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Quality Assurance

The national system
Interest and interested parties
Three connected elements
Evaluation every six years
Monitoring national development of practice-based research
Within the UAS

The national system
The following overarching mission has been formulated for the national quality assurance system: The system contributes to the development and innovation of professional practice, education and society as a whole, by means of structure and explicit attention for the permanent evaluation and improvement of the quality of research and the knowledge development, knowledge application and knowledge circulation based on this.

The concrete objectives of the system are as follows:

  • To safeguard and improve the quality of research and the organisation surrounding it
  • To strengthen the position and image of practice-based research
  • To generate management information for the university of applied sciences and the sector
  • To account to government and society on how public resources are spent


Interest and interested parties
As such, many parties have an interest in the quality assurance system. Firstly, the individuals involved within the universities of applied sciences: directors/governors, professors, management, staff, lecturers and students. Secondly, primarily professional practice, the Netherlands Association of Universities of Applied Science as the sector organisation, society and the government. As such, the system will be developed (and be subject to ongoing development) and implemented in close collaboration with these interested parties.

Three connected elements
The system consists of three connected elements:

  1. The quality assurance systems in place at the universities of applied sciences, including the external independent evaluation of research units.
  2. A national validation committee that will validate these quality assurance systems every six years.
  3. Annual monitoring of the development and results of research at universities of applied sciences.


Evaluation every six years
The quality assurance systems in place at the universities of applied sciences form the point of application for the joint quality assurance system. The evaluation of research units – these could be professors, groups and/or knowledge centres – by independent evaluation committees are key here. Each research unit will be evaluated once every six years. These evaluations will be effected by committees consisting of external independent experts, such as professors, researchers and stakeholders. The Board at a university of applied sciences will be responsible for the composition and creation of these committees.

Once every six years, the quality assurance system in place at a university of applied sciences will be evaluated and validated by a validation committee for research quality assurance (this committee is still to be created). This committee will use a self-evaluation and an audit based on this self-evaluation to form an opinion on the functioning and performance of the quality assurance system in question.

Monitoring national development of practice-based research
Finally, the universities of applied sciences will jointly monitor the national development of practice-based research. They have placed this task with the Netherlands Association of Universities of Applied Sciences. The Netherlands Association of Universities of Applied Sciences publishes an annual progress report on research at universities of applied sciences. This report provides information to the relevant ministries, to politicians and to society as a whole.

 

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Within the UAS
Via the sector protocol, it has been agreed that each university of applied sciences will be responsible for its own quality assurance policy, which will lead to the evaluation of selected research units (research groups, groups and/or knowledge centres) every six years. The sector agreements on evaluation relate to the nature and content of the self-evaluation reports to be delivered and also to the composition of the evaluation committees and the remit to be issued to these committees.

An external independent evaluation of a research unit will be preceded by a self-evaluation. This will result in a self-evaluation report. On the one hand, the self-evaluation report must provide a factual overview of the unit in terms of objectives, organisation, composition, activities and results. On the other hand, the report will answer a number of critical questions in relation to the achievement of the mission and objectives applicable.

As regards the first – factual – side, the self-evaluation report (including addenda) will provide a proper description, insight into and overview of:

  • the mission for the research unit
  • the research themes and the research portfolio
  • the research profile in terms of academic standards and research methods and techniques
  • the embedding and positioning of the unit within the institution from an organisational, strategic and HRM point of view
  • the size of the unit in terms of people and (financial) resources
  • the quality of the researchers, expressed in education, degree, experience and ancillary activities
  • the collaborative arrangements and substantive relations applicable within the university of applied sciences, as well as externally with organisations, institutions and companies, at a regional, national and international level
  • the publications, presentations and other products that research by the unit has yielded recently
  • data on impact and appreciation of the research in relation to:
    • knowledge development within the research domain
    • professional practice and society
    • education and training


By way of an introduction, the self-evaluation report will also include a substantiation of the self-evaluation in terms of approach, method, parties involved, etc. and a concluding cohesive final analysis in the form of strengths and weaknesses, improvement measures and priorities for the time ahead.

The self-evaluation reports are used as input for dialogue with the external evaluation committees. These committees consist of independent experts.
Independent is defined here as independent from the research unit to be assessed. However, the institution can opt to include a constant element in the committee (for example, an internal auditor or a permanent secretary) in order to promotes the comparability of the various research evaluations.
The term experts refers to peers (professors and researchers) and stakeholders, representative for:
the education related to research
the relevant professional practice
the relevant research domains
the relevant international environment

Based on the self-evaluations, possibly supplemented by other reports that the institutions consider relevant, the evaluation committees, which will consist of peers and stakeholders, enter into discussion with the research units to be evaluated.

The independent evaluation committee should answer the following five evaluation questions:

  1. Is there sufficient relevant productivity, impact, appreciation and recognition in terms of:
    • knowledge development within the research domain?
    • valorisation to professional practice and society?
    • significance for education and training?
  2. Is work undertaken on the basis of a relevant and challenging mission and a clear research profile?
  3. Are the mission and the research profile secured by the portfolio and by the way in which in which the unit has been organised?
  4. Is the deployment of people and resources sufficient from a qualitative and quantitative point of view?
  5. Are the internal and external collaborative arrangements, networks and relations sufficiently relevant, intensive and long-term?

 

See also this document.

 

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