Quality Assurance System for Education - Board Decision - Kunnskapsbasen
Quality Assurance System for Education - Board Decision
Passed by the Board 9 March 2016
Updated through a Rector's resolution 10 March 2017 and 2 May 2022
- Goals for the quality work
- About the quality assurance system for education
- Roles, responsibilities, and tasks in the quality assurance work
- Reference groups
- Student Democracy
- Ph.d. candidates
- Course coordinator
- Head of department
- Academic program director
- Study program council
- Learning environment committee
- Executive committees
- Research committee
- Education committee
- Council for cooperation with working life
- The Board
- Review of courses, study programs and study program portfolio
- Planning, reporting and follow-up process
Goals for the quality work
NTNU’s strategy puts emphasis on quality in education and aims for “all education to be characterized by quality of a high international level, both academically and pedagogically” and for “all academic environments to develop sound educational management and a quality culture by means of systematic evaluation and adequate follow-up actions”.
The policy for quality and development of the study program portfolio shall support NTNU’s strategy and form the basis of good strategic choices that contribute to the strengthening of the quality of the portfolio as well as of each individual study offer. The policy shall promote quality culture in areas that are of significance for the students’ learning outcomes and defines five quality areas that reflect upon the uniqueness of NTNU:
- Strategic significance
- One university – three cities
- Learning environment
- Professional sustainability
- Economic sustainability
At the centre of the quality work are the student’s learning, learning environment and comprehensive competence development during the course of study from application and admission to graduation. The goal is for the students to achieve the learning outcomes defined for their course or study program. Quality is developed through collaboration between employees and students and in close contact with members of the working life and society at large. Development of quality in study offers is a collective task for the academic environment. If a decline in quality is detected, this must be rectified within a reasonable timeframe.
Quality is developed on three levels: Course level, study program level and study portfolio level.
The goal is to ensure that the description of the learning outcome of a course is updated and relevant, that the teaching activities within the course contribute to the achievement of the defined learning outcome and that there is a connection between the description of the learning outcome, the teaching activities and the assessment methods.
Study program quality
The goal is to ensure that the description of the study program’s learning outcome is updated and relevant, and that the courses included in the study program contribute to the students’ achievement of the learning outcome.
Study program portfolio quality
The goal is to ensure that NTNU fulfills its societal mission by offering a comprehensive portfolio, comprised of relevant education of high international quality, in accordance with NTNU’ strategy.
About the quality assurance system for education
NTNUs quality assurance system for education is there to support the development of quality in all credit-bearing courses at Bachelor’s, Master’s, and PhD-level. In addition, the system must be set up to ensure that the collective development work is conducted systematically and that it is documented. Results from the quality assurance work are part of the knowledge base for assessment and strategic development of the institution’s study program portfolio.
The quality assurance system describes goals for the quality work, and defines roles, responsibilities, tasks, and follow-up processes. Requirements and guidelines are incorporated in relevant laws, regulations and local statutes that are listed at the end of this document. The quality assurance work is assisted by joint work processes, fixed dialogue forums, administrative support functions and digital tools. Other examples of support for the quality assurance work are adapted educational data, relevant courses for educational leaders, courses offered for the development of educational competence, meetings for academic program directors, quality seminars, shared templates, and examples of good practice.
The faculties may establish their own dialogue forums, work routines and role descriptions to support the goals, requirement and roles defined in this document. This kind of variation will provide the faculties the opportunity to adapt the quality assurance work in the best possible way to be able to realize the quality goals in their education area.
The quality reporting process is used to analyze and document the development of quality. The process is based on dialogue, evaluation, and follow-up work at all levels of the organization, which provides coherence and is intended to ensure that a decline in quality is identified and rectified. Results from this process are used as a basis for further development of the various education offers and the portfolio.
In NTNU’s annual education quality assurance report, the rector will provide an analysis of the education quality and development in relation to stated objectives. This report must be approved by the board. The quality assurance report also describes priority areas for new joint initiatives and long-term plans for development of the study portfolio, and forms the basis for annual plans, budget, and follow-up work.
Roles, responsibilities, and tasks in the quality assurance work
The Board has the overall responsibility for the strategic development of the study program portfolio and to ensure that NTNU is conducting systematic quality assurance work in accordance with current requirements. The quality assurance work is anchored at leadership level to ensure continuity and that set targets are followed up through priorities and measures. The rector, deans and department heads are responsible for making sure that the quality work is conducted in accordance with relevant requirements. The authority, delegation and power of attorney follow from NTNU’s management and delegation regulations.
Tasks can be delegated, whereas responsibilities cannot. Study programs are structured in different ways, which means that there will be varying needs in terms of management and quality assurance. A dean may for instance delegate to a head of department tasks related to the development of quality in a study program. See NTNU’s management models in link 16, "Management of Study programmes"). The rector, deans and heads of department are responsible for ensuring that any tasks delegated to vice-rectors, vice-deans or deputy chairs are carried out. Regardless of management model, all study programs are required to have an academic program director and a study program council. Several study programs may sort under the same academic program director or study program council.
The students are involved at all levels: As members of the board, the education and research committees, the learning environment committee, the executive committees for respectively the 5-year Teacher Education, Engineering and 5-year Master of Engineering, faculty boards, study program councils, reference groups and as union members on faculty and department level.
Representatives from society and working life must be involved in quality development to ensure that study programs are adapted to current and future societal competence requirements. External involvement is ensured through periodic reviews of study programs, collaboration on practice, in study program councils, department and faculty boards, participation in the council for collaboration with working life (RSA) as well as participation in business circles and other national and international collaborative forums.
All students are expected to actively participate in the development of the quality of a course through ongoing dialogue with the teacher, by providing input to or participating in the reference group for the course in question, responding to surveys etc. Students who feel that their feedback or reviews are not followed up on may report this to student union representatives, a student advisor or to the administration at either department or faculty level. If the matter is still not followed up on, or if it is a sensitive issue that is difficult for the student to address, he/she may report it as a deviation of education quality and learning environment (link 25). Students who experience grave and reprehensible conditions may report this as a notification case. Deviation and notification cases reported by students must be processed in accordance with current guidelines (link 26).
The reference group must have on ongoing dialogue with all the students registered for the course in question and shall represent the students in reference group meetings. The group is responsible for writing a report to the course coordinator with suggestions for improvements.
The Student Democracy shall represent the students in the quality work at all levels of the organization: The board, the committees for education and research, the learning environment committee, and the executive committees for 5-year Teacher Education, Engineering and 5-year Master of Engineering. Members of the Student Democracy are represented at faculty and department level and in all study program councils. The political administration of the Student Parliament shall contribute to processes at central level and assist union members of the Student Democracy.
Ph.d.-candidates are involved in the quality work in relevant bodies on all levels, similar to the involvement of regular students. The PhD candidates’ interest organization (DION) contributes to the processes when necessary.
The teacher shall carry out teaching activities that contribute to the students’ achievement of the learning outcome described for the course. If there is only one teacher, he/she is also appointed course coordinator. The teacher should have an ongoing dialogue with the students and discuss with the course coordinator any academic, pedagogic, or practical matters that may improve the quality of the course.
The course coordinator is responsible for planning, coordinating, and implementing the course to ensure that the connection between teaching, learning activities and assessments is appropriate and will contribute to the students’ achievement of the defined learning outcome. The course
coordinator must also obtain input from the students, evaluate, follow up on any needs for improvement in consultation with the head of department and communicate follow-up actions to future course cohorts.
Head of department
The head of department is responsible for ensuring that the quality assurance of the courses at the department is carried out in accordance with current requirements, and that the quality work is documented and included in the annual quality reporting process. The head of department is also in charge of approving follow-up plans and making sure that these are carried out through resource allocation and personnel management.
Academic program director
In accordance with the mandate (link 17), the academic program director shall contribute to the development of the learning environment as well as to the academic and pedagogical quality of the study program. The academic program director has an advisory role, and his/her tasks are carried out in close collaboration with the dean, the head of department, the course coordinators, teachers, and students. The academic program director heads the study program council and reports to the dean or head of department, depending in management model. The study program report is part of the quality reporting process.
Study program council
The study program council is an advisory body that will contribute to the work of developing the quality of a study program and will also provide input to the annual study program review. The study program council is composed of students, academic staff, and administrative staff. There should also be external representatives in the study program council, or a provision of input from external actors. One study program council may serve as the council for several study programs. See mandate for study program councils (link 18) for tasks, composition, and terms of office.
The dean is responsible for ensuring that the quality assurance work of the faculty’s study programs is performed in accordance with current requirements, and that the study offers are conducted in accordance with regulations. The Dean must also make sure that all study programs have an appointed academic program director as well as a study program council and must provide sufficient resources for study program management and quality assurance work. The dean may establish faculty-specific routines to support the quality system based on the individual faculty’s needs. For study programs that include practice, the dean is responsible for ensuring that there are arrangements in place at the faculty to meet the requirements for quality in practice that are laid out in the study supervision requirements and in the regulations concerning the framework plans for professional education.
The dean is responsible for approving follow-up plans and will make sure that such plans are carried out in consultation with the academic program director, heads of affected departments and, in the case of cross-faculty study programs, also collaborating deans. The dean reports to the rector through the annual quality report.
Learning environment committee
The learning environment committee (LMU) reports directly to the board and gives advice to both the board and the administration in matters concerning the learning environment at NTNU. LMU shall have a holistic and overarching impression of NTNU’s work concerning the learning environment. LMU submits an annual report to the board and provides input to the annual quality reporting process.
The executive committees for the Master of Science in Engineering (FUS), the 5-year Teacher Education (FUL) and the Engineering Programs (FUI) are organizationally placed under the rector’s administration. FUS, FUL and FUI are responsible for the cross-faculty coordination of the above-mentioned academic subjects and are tasked with developing common quality requirements for these programs. FUS, FUI and FUL pass resolutions regarding study plans and learning outcome descriptions and give advice to the rector on the development of the study program portfolio. In accordance with their mandates, the committees shall ensure that the quality assurance work is followed up and will prepare an annual report with emphasis on measures to improve quality. This report is processed by the rector.
The research committee (FU) is a strategic advisory committee for the rector with focus on the research area and will, among other things, provide advice to the rector on quality assurance and the development of PhD education.
The education committee (UU) is a strategic advisory committee for the rector within the education area and will provide advice to the rector on quality assurance of educational activities and the annual quality report.
The rector is responsible for making sure that the quality work is carried out in accordance with formal requirements and that the quality system is updated in line with new frameworks and objectives. The rector shall approve changes in the study program portfolio for study offers that carry 60 or more ECTS, and reports to the board through NTNU’s annual quality report for education. The rector will also conduct cyclical candidate and employer surveys. These surveys are arranged so that the faculties can use the data obtained in their quality assurance processes.
Council for cooperation with working life
NTNU is also member of a council for cooperation with working life (RSA), where members of working life provide advice and input to NTNU’s educational profile and offers to meet future competence needs.
The board is responsible for ensuring that NTNU has a quality assurance system for education. The board also has the overall responsibility to check that quality assurance work is conducted in accordance with requirements and regulations, and that accreditation and quality assurance take place within the current legal framework.
The board annually passes a resolution on NTNU’s quality assurance report that contains long-term plans for the development of the study program portfolio.
Review of courses, study programs and study program portfolio
Every time a course is offered, the course coordinator is responsible for performing an evaluation. All course evaluations must include a review from a student perspective, and the coordinator may choose different methods such as reference group reports, surveys, summaries from evaluation meetings with students, or a combination of these. In cases where there is one-to-one teaching, or there are only a few students following the course, a method that ensures anonymity must be chosen. The student review is entered into the tool KASPER. All faculties must follow the necessary routines to avoid publishing reviews, feedback or reports that contain sensitive information.
The course coordinator shall prepare a report every time the course is offered. This report must contain a proposal for a follow-up plan which will be published in KASPER. Published course reports are available in the study quality portal. The effects of implemented improvement measures are assessed during the next course evaluation.
Evaluation of courses containing an element pf practice follows the same methodology. The faculties that offer this kind of study programs must have schemes in place to meet the requirements for quality in practice given in the study supervision regulations and in regulations on framework plans for professional education. Quality development of practice studies should be based on dialogue between course coordinators, academic program directors, students and internship facilitators. NTNUs joint courses shall be evaluated according to the template in "Guidelines for NTNU’s joint courses."
The evaluation consists of three parts: First, the effect of the follow-up plan from the previous review is assessed, followed by an assessment of the implementation of the course and the student’s learning outcomes, and finally a follow-up plan for the next time the course is offered is written. This process is intended to ensure continuous development of the course.
During the assessment of the implementation of the course and the students’ learning outcomes, the following factors are relevant to consider:
- teaching and learning activities
- assessment methods
- the learning environment
- academic content and learning outcome goals
The basis for course reviews are previous course and study program reports and their follow-up plans, various forms of student evaluations and relevant statistics.
Examples of statistics: Failure rate, dropout rate and grade distribution.
Study program reviews - annual
Requirements - annual review
The academic program director is responsible for carrying out an annual study program review, focusing on the overall quality of the program. The academic program director should plan, implement, and follow up the evaluation process.
Basic prerequisites for the development of high-quality study programs are that the programs are relevant to employability in the future, that they contribute to creating a sustainable society, offer a good learning environment, are anchored in good academic environments of a certain size, are internationally oriented and stimulate interdisciplinary collaboration. The academic environments must include professionals with high scientific competence, good educational competence and relevant work experience, cf. NTNU’s portfolio policy (link 11).
The study program evaluation is documented by means of a report containing a proposal for a follow-up plan. This report is published in the tool KASPER. Published study program reports are available in the study quality portal.
The annual study program reports form the basis for the annual study plan revision. These reports are also included as one of several sources for periodic reviews and for the faculties’ quality reports to the rector.
The evaluation consists of three parts: First, the effect of the follow-up plan from the previous review is assessed followed by an assessment of relevance, learning environment, research, and competence basis, learning outcome descriptions, international orientation, integrity, context and results. Finally, a follow-up plan is written. This process is designed to ensure continuous development of the quality of a study program. If any major challenges are identified, the result may be that a periodic review is conducted earlier than originally planned.
Course reports, study program reports and statistics such as application numbers, completion and dropout rates, the Study Barometer and other surveys.
Study program reviews - periodic (at least every 5 years)
Requirements - periodic review
The dean is responsible for ensuring that a periodic study program review is carried out at least every 5 years. This review should contain input from students, representatives from working life and national or international external actors. The report is written and published through the tool KASPER. Published reports are available to the public in the study quality portal.
The periodic study program review is particularly focused on the program’s social and working life relevance, as well as on its relation to NTNU’s profile and strategy. Are there any specific challenges that have been identified through the annual reviews that must be taken into consideration? The periodic review will provide advice on whether the study program in question should be continued in its current form, be altered or discontinued. Relevant topics for periodic reviews may be found in chapter 8.2 in the «Guidelines for period reviews of study programs».
The knowledge base is like the knowledge base for annual study program reviews, in addition to strategy plans, relevant and international surveys and studies. There may also be a need to obtain targeted data for any focus areas chosen for the evaluation.
See «Guidelines for periodic study program reviews» (link 22).
Development of the study program portfolio
Results from the quality work shall be included in the knowledge base for assessment and strategic development of the institution’s study program portfolio. Whether existing study programs should be discontinued or changed is decided on the basis of periodic study program reviews. The process, procedural requirements and content requirements are described in the Guidelines for the Development of the Study Program Portfolio at NTNU («The Portfolio Guide», see link 12), Guidelines for the Design of Study Programs at NTNU (“The Curriculum Guide”, see link 13) and the Guidelines for Periodic Evaluation of Study Programs in link 14.
The requirements in “the Portfolio Guide» must be met when new study programs are established. Among other things, it is important to make clear how the new study program contributes to fulfilling NTNU’s strategy.
Measures from course reviews and annual study program reviews are implemented in the annual study plan process. Course coordinators, administrative program directors, faculty, administrative committees, and other relevant staff should make use of the «Curriculum Guide» during annual reviews and revisions of existing study programs.
During their annual meeting in March, the board will assess the quality report with the long-term plans for the development of the study program portfolio. The rector will consequently provide the board with an overall assessment and give an update on the establishment of any new courses or discontinuations. The total study offers and number of available seats for the following academic year will be decided by the board at their meeting in December.
Planning, reporting and follow-up process
Following up the quality assurance work is part of the corporate governance at NTNU. The annual quality reporting process, which concludes with the rector’s report to the board, is an important part of NTNU’s quality assurance system for education and for the educational quality work in the organization. Information from this process is used as a basis for annual plans and budgets.
The quality report and development of the study program portfolio are based on the rector’s dialogue meetings with the faculties, in addition to reporting, dialogue and follow-up processes at all levels throughout the organization.
The quality report describes the organization and the development during the academic year. This process is consistent; departments and faculties analyze the quality of their own courses and programs and what kind of measures will be required on department-, faculty- and rector-level. The faculties’ reports and reports from FUI, FUS, FUL and LMU form the basis for the Rectors quality report for NTNU, which is presented to the board. The figure on the next page shows the schematics of dialogue, documentation and follow up actions, with student representation at all levels.
The systematic quality assurance work at NTNU as well as the quality of NTNU’s study offers must meet the requirements in the following legislation, regulations, and guidelines:
- The Universities and University Colleges Act
- The Study Quality Regulations of the Ministry of Education
- NOKUTs Study Supervision Regulations
- The Framework Plans for Higher Education from the Ministry of Education
- NTNUs Study Regulations
- Regulations for the degrees PhD and PhD in Artistic Development at NTNU
- Supplementary guidelines in NTNU’s quality assurance system
Links to legislation and regulations, and to supplementary guidelines in NTNU’s quality assurance system
- Act relating to universities and university colleges (universitets- og høyskoleloven) - Lovdata
- European Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in European Higher Education Area (ESG)
- Forskrift om kvalitetssikring og kvalitetsutvikling i høyere utdanning og fagskoleutdanning - Lovdata (in Norwegian)
- Forskrift om tilsyn med utdanningskvaliteten i høyere utdanning (studietilsynsforskriften) - Lovdata (in Norwegian)
- Rammeplaner for høyere utdanning - regjeringen.no (in Norwegian)
- Qualifications framework for higher education (in Norwegian)
- Forskrift om krav til mastergrad (in Norwegian)
- Forskrift om kvalifikasjoner og sertifikater for sjøfolk (in Norwegian)
- Academic Regulations for NTNU (studieforskriften)
- Regulations concerning the degrees of Philosophiae Doctor (ph.d.) and Philosophiae Doctor (ph.d.) in artistic research at NTNU
- Policy for Quality and Development of the Study Programme Portfolio (English pdf available on the page)
- Retningslinjer for utvikling av studieporteføljen ved NTNU (The Portfolio Guide)*
- Retningslinjer for utforming av studieprogram ved NTNU (The Program Description Guide)*
- NTNU's management regulations (styringsreglement)
- NTNU's regulations on delegation (delegasjonsreglement)
- Management of study programmes
- Mandat for studieprogramledere ved NTNU
- Mandate for study programme council
- Oppgaver for råd og utvalg i kvalitetssystemet
- Retningslinjer for evaluering av emner og studieprogram (under utarbeiding)
- Retningslinjer for periodisk evaluering av fellesemner (under utarbeiding)
- Retningslinjer for periodisk evaluering av studieprogram (Guide to Periodic Evaluation)*
- Guidelines for quality in PhD Education (pdf) (NTNU's PhD handbook)
- Reference groups as method
- Speak up! Portal for students
- Guideline for following up problems - quality assurance for education
- BEVISST - System for virksomhetsstyring - Kunnskapsbasen - NTNU (in Norwegian)
- Oppsummering av endringene i oppdateringen av NTNUs kvalitetssystem for utdanning i rektorvedtak av 2. mai 2022
*The guides can be found at Guidelines in the Quality Assurance System