Quality assurance: Organisation and responsibility
The responsibility for quality assurance and enhancement and their various components is defined by the University’s organisation and division of responsibilities. The University is characterised by decentralised responsibility and an advisory and collaborative structure within the framework of a university-wide, nationally integrated and internationally based quality system.
The collegial academic culture is the basis of the University’s quality assurance and enhancement and the division of responsibilities described in more detail in the University’s Mission, Goals and Strategies.
Quality assurance and enhancement are a part of academic culture and support central academic values like academic freedom, good research practice, peer review, and open, factual and critical discussions with participation from staff and students. Teachers, researchers, students and external stakeholders therefore need to know about the system, its components and the division of responsibilities. Developing and ensuring the quality of research and education is of mutual importance for all staff and students, who continually foster, test and revitalise the academic culture of quality in core activities, with support from management at every level.
In Uppsala University: Mission, Goals and Strategies and Operational Plan for Uppsala University 2022 (in Swedish), the University Board has adopted the basic principles of the quality system, university-wide goals and more long-term strategies for quality assurance and enhancement.
Uppsala University is fundamentally a decentralised organisation with strong disciplines and independent departments, faculties and disciplinary domains. In accordance with the University’s rules of procedure, each faculty board is responsible for the quality of research and education in its specific fields. This responsibility is exercised within the framework of a quality system that incorporates both central coordination and local variations in conditions, processes and activities.
The University Board is responsible for ensuring that the University conducts high-quality education and research. After deliberation by the University Board, jointly regulated and locally designed aspects are defined in policy documents like Mission, Goals and Strategies, Rules of Procedure for Uppsala University and Operational plan. The programme Teaching and Learning at Uppsala University specifies responsibilities for teachers and students.
The University is organised into three disciplinary domains with boards:
- The Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences has six faculties with associated faculty boards
- The Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy has two faculties and one faculty board that is also the disciplinary domain board.
- The Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology has one faculty and one faculty board, which is the same as the disciplinary domain board.
The faculties are home to the departments, where the University’s core activities take place. The faculty boards have systematic procedures for assuring and enhancing quality within the faculties’ areas of activity. In the departments and cross-disciplinary centres, each head of department or equivalent is responsible for their activities.
Quality assurance and enhancement are integrated in the regular planning, budget work and follow-up at the various levels, including the Vice-Chancellor’s quality dialogues with the disciplinary domains (see the annual planning under Actions and follow-up). There are also specific university-wide quality assurance and enhancement processes, such as the University’s model for programme reviews and the research environment evaluations initiated by university management (see Reviews and Evaluations). The results from these processes are incorporated into regular planning and follow-up. There is also the Electoral College, which is a consultative assembly when developing proposals for the appointment of the Vice-Chancellor and Deputy Vice-Chancellor.
Teachers, researchers and students continually take part in quality assurance and enhancement at different levels of the organisation through planning and follow-up in boards, committees, subcommittees, panels and advisory bodies. There are six university students' unions active in union collaborations that appoint members to planning and decision-making bodies. There is also regular collaboration between students’ unions representatives and management representatives from the University and the Student Affairs and Academic Registry Division. Collaboration occurs in a variety of ways with external stakeholders in assessments and reviews of research and education.
When quality questions are important as a matter of principle or strategy for the University, the Vice-Chancellor consults with the other members of the University Management Council (the deputy vice-chancellor, the university director, the vice-rectors and student representatives). The Vice-Chancellor and the organisation have additional planning and advisory bodies at their disposal:
- The Electoral College serves as the consultative assembly during the procedure for making proposals for the appointment of the Vice-Chancellor and Deputy Vice-Chancellor. It consists of teachers elected by the disciplinary domains, students elected by the students’ unions, and representatives of the administration, the library and staff associations.
- The Advisory Boards for Education and Research advise the Vice-Chancellor on issues related to education and research respectively. There are also advisory boards for internationalisation, research infrastructure, collaboration and equal opportunities. The boards consist of academic staff representing all disciplinary domains, students and the University Administration.
- Within the University Administration, there are divisions that support the University Management, the disciplinary domains, departments, teachers and researchers with quality assurance and enhancement. A significant part of this support comes from the Division for Quality Enhancement, which has three units: the Unit for Academic Teaching and Learning, the Unit for Quality and Evaluation and the Unit for Careers and Leadership in Academia. Some of the disciplinary domains/faculties have comparable support functions for their specific disciplinary domain/faculty. The University Administration also has a Planning Division, a Human Resources Division responsible for management training for department heads and a Student Affairs and Academic Registry Division providing support for students. The Planning Division and the University IT Services also provide support for quality assurance and enhancement (see Support and infrastructure).
Collaboration with external stakeholders is an integral part of research and education at Uppsala University. This applies to collaboration both with colleagues and students at other higher education institutions nationally and worldwide, and with stakeholders in the private sector, public agencies, regional organisations (e.g. Region Uppsala), municipalities and non-profit organisations. There is an Advisory Board for External Collaboration that advises the Vice-Chancellor and a Division for Contract Education.
Uppsala University is responsible for creating its own quality system for research, teaching and learning. The Swedish Higher Education Authority (UKÄ) audits Uppsala University’s quality system and conducts selected programme reviews, thematic evaluations, appraisal of applications for degree-awarding powers, and legal oversight. The Swedish Research Council conducts evaluations of selected research areas. The University’s quality system adheres to the Swedish Higher Education Act, the Joint framework for HEIs’ research quality assurance and enhancement systems (SUHF 2019), European Charter & Code for Researchers, and European Standards and Guidelines (ESG). In this way, Uppsala University’s quality system brings together the national and international systems for quality in education and research..