Södertörn University’s systematic work on quality assurance

Quality and work on quality assurance is a vital element of all activities at Södertörn University, and quality issues are included in all workplace processes as a matter of course.

Work to enhance quality must have a comprehensive approach and be conducted systematically to promote shared learning; it must be forward looking and lead to continual improvement and development. It must also provide support to students and employees at all levels of education in every area of activity.

Overarching aims and guiding principles

One requirement for quality assurance work that is fit for purpose, and thus an overarching aim, is a culture of quality that incorporates trust, commitment, quality awareness and responsibility among all staff and students, good opportunities for participation, and effective interaction between the various bodies and functions. Established and effective contacts with external stakeholders and actors, such as public authorities, organisations and businesses, are also important.

The university’s Policy for Quality Assurance and Quality Enhancement Pdf, 138.8 kB, opens in new window. emphasises how fundamental work on quality is largely conducted in its day to day activities. The policy also lists some guiding principles: participation, integration and transparency; student influence and active student participation; systems and links to international, national and local frameworks and systems.

The university’s systematic approach

The university’s systematic work on quality is integrated in the normal processes for control, follow-up and development, and encompasses strategic and operative work at all levels. The results of completed follow-ups, evaluations and analyses must be transformed into action that leads to operational improvements and long-term effects.

The university has a dialogic approach to planning and following up quality, through regular meetings with different purposes and participants (managers, collegial bodies, student representatives).

Allocation of responsibility

Formal responsibility is distributed across the university and described in the Delegation of Authority. It rests with both the management and with collegial bodies, with the former having responsibility for staff and finances, and the latter taking decisions that require scholarly expertise.

The tasks of the management include providing the right conditions for activities of a high standard. This includes responsibility for the clarity of processes and the allocation of responsibility, as well as for the distribution of resources. The vice-chancellor has given the Faculty Board overall responsibility for the quality of education, research and collaboration/community engagement. This includes the production of governing documents, evaluations and follow ups, and promoting quality enhancement in a variety of ways. At the academic schools and equivalent units, responsibility lies with the head of school, the management board, head of department and collegial bodies.

Each member of staff is responsible for maintaining and enhancing the quality of university activities. The management and collegial bodies must ensure that students at all levels have opportunities to influence and actively participate in planning, conducting and developing courses and programmes and other aspects of student life. Students and doctoral students are expected to take responsibility for their own learning and for shared learning, and have a natural place in the university’s work on assuring and enhancing quality.

Primary processes

At the university, ongoing processes contribute to assuring and enhancing the quality of university operations. In many cases, these are regulated by governing and supporting documents, as well as by action plans/operational plans that state priorities and time frames.

The below list includes primary processes, upon which the university’s systematic quality assurance work in education and research is based.

  • Planning activities and allocating resources, centrally and locally
  • Following up activities and results, centrally and locally
  • University-wide processes for employment, promotion and competence development
  • Processes for establishing and discontinuing main fields of study, research areas for doctoral studies and study programmes
  • Validation of syllabuses for education at all levels, programme syllabuses, general syllabuses and individual study plans
  • Collegial development work at local level relating to education, including the students’ course evaluations
  • Scholarly collegial assessment of research results and planned research (international, national and local)
  • Periodic evaluation of the university’s environments for education and research, adapted to national and international requirements and including assessments by external experts
  • Systematic work environment management, including work on equal opportunities.

More information about student influence at Södertörn University and about SöderS students’ union is available here.


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