The UvA's quality assurance system serves a number of important purposes. The UvA's key priorities may change to reflect new external requirements. The UvA's quality assurance system is designed to ensure that the University maintains best practices and continually assesses whether there is a need for improvement or adjustment.
The system allows the UvA to determine whether it is achieving the desired quality standards. In other words: is the UvA taking the appropriate measures and carrying them out effectively? This is why it is important that the quality assurance system provides information on current quality levels from a range of different sources. Crucially, the system enables the University to adjust its processes; after all, quality cannot be improved without the necessary adjustments being made.
If the desired quality of education is to be achieved, the quality assurance system must also be integrated at all levels and have access to all the necessary resources. The resources must make up a coherent whole. The tasks and responsibilities of the various employees involved in the quality assurance process must be effectively harmonised. This also applies to the alignment of the organisation´s various layers. Finally, the quality assurance system must be transparent: understandable, clearly defined and easy to use by all the parties involved. This applies to both internal and external parties involved in the quality assurance process.
The PDCA cycle
The UvA’s quality assurance process revolves around the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle (PDCA). Each organisational layer has its own PDCA cycle. The system distinguishes between institution (Executive Board and Supervisory Board), faculty, College or Graduate School, study programme and course. The relationships between the various organisational layers are depicted in the figure below.
The management information yielded by UvAdata and other sources is applied to determine the progress towards predetermined targets and/or the effectiveness of policies at each organisational level, from the Supervisory Board to individual lecturers. The outcomes and recommendations from accreditation reports, the results of the National Student Survey (NSS) and the outcomes of teaching evaluations also serve as input for discussions on improvement measures.
The outcome of these discussions then serves as a basis to determine the necessary adjustments and improvements. This process takes place during all periodic meetings, such as consultations between the Executive Board and faculty deans (twice a year) or consultations between the faculty deans and the College and Graduate School directors.
The study programme itself plays a key role in the teaching evaluation process. The Board of Studies and the programme director meet at least once a year to discuss the results and issue recommendations for improvement to the College or Graduate School director. The director will then specify the various measures and decisions resulting from these Board of Studies’ recommendations in the annual plan. Recommendations may relate to an individual course or lecturer, or the curriculum as a whole. This improvement process is described for each individual faculty in the faculty Quality Assurance Manual.