Education: AU has just adopted a new, more value-based quality assurance policy

Aarhus University's new quality assurance policy for teaching and learning at AU is simpler and less detailed than the previous one. And it focuses more on the students and their learning outcomes.

Photo: Lars Kruse

The numbers speak for themselves: Whereas there were previously five sub-policies, there are now only four. And in place of 31 strategic goals, there are now just 12.

In short, AU’s new quality assurance policy is more general and less detailed than then previous one. According to Pro-rector Berit Eika, this is a very deliberate choice:

“The previous quality assurance policy dates back to 2013. Back then, our educational quality assurance was more untested, so there was a greater need to be more explicit about many things. Now we’ve worked with the system in practice, and the entire organisational setup has matured. So it makes sense to move a step closer to a more value-based policy. Less how-to guide and more vision.”

More focus on the students

The new quality assurance policy still determines the overall educational values for AU’s degree programmes. But it gives the research and teaching programmes more freedom to adapt the policy to address their specific needs and challenges. At the same time, the policy makes it clearer that the focus is on the students.

“In 2013, we were facing the first institutional accreditation, so it was only natural that we had a major focus on consolidating the internal processes. While working on the new policy, there has been a clearer focus on the students, what we expect of them, and what they can expect to get out of an AU education. I think this will also give the degree programmes good conditions for finding their own path to realising the values,"says Arts Vice-dean Niels Lehmann, who has been deeply involved in developing the quality assurance policy.

From choice of degree programme to employer contact

The new quality assurance policy is divided into four sub-policies that together encompass all aspects of a course of study:

  • Getting students off to a good start
  • High-quality, coherent degree programmes
  • Motivational study and learning environments
  • Highly qualified graduates with relevant competences

In addition, each sub-policy contains three values or objectives that will function as benchmarks for AU’s research and teaching programmes in the local educational development. For example, the first sub-policy deals with how AU should contribute to helping students choose the right degree programme, but also ensuring the students’ integration in AU’s communities and how to create a good transition from secondary school to university.

“These are ambitious goals, so it’s not a given that we’ll meet them equally in all areas. But it provides a common goal that everyone can work towards – and at the very least it gives the students a clear idea of what we’re working for, and what they can expect from the university,” says the pro-rector. She is also pleased with the development process for creating the quality assurance policy:

“The collaboration between the administrative side and the academic side has been really excellent, and both staff and students have made valuable contributions to shaping the policy. So I want to thank everybody involved for an incredibly inspiring process, and I hope that the result will also inspire our research and teaching programmes in their work to develop our degree programmes.”