Long-awaited decision on new quality assurance system in Sweden
On March 2nd 2016 the Swedish government and parliament decided on a new system in line with the ESG, shifting focus to the internal quality processes in HE institutions. The Swedish National Union of Students (SFS) gladly welcomes the new system, which contains four components:
1) reviews in order to give degree-awarding powers to HE institutions,
2) reviews of the internal quality assurance of HE institutions, with panels examining compliance with Swedish regulations and ESG part 1,
3) reviews of programmes selected by the QA agency,
4) thematic reviews comparing quality aspects such as equality and mobility in all HE institutions.
SFS have been working tightly with the QA agency and institutions to develop the new QA system. We are happy to finally get a system in place stressing the internal QA system of institutions, which up until now has been either non-existing or unsystematic. The most important issue for the Swedish students is the implementation of student-centered learning through pedagogical development. All students have the right to a well-structured and student-centered learning process, and we rely on the QA system to strive for such a development.
The previous national quality assurance system in Sweden caused much debate. The system focused heavily on “results of learning” as measured by evaluation of student degree projects. In addition, the system was found not to comply with the ESG, leading to the downgrading of Sweden’s QA agency to affiliate status within the ENQA. It was also introduced without any participation with students or universities.
The student unions of Sweden are developing new ways of working together to support each other in the upcoming reviews. At a national level SFS strives to organize a student QA expert pool, following the example of other countries with a more developed QA system. We look forward to learn more from other ESU members’ experiences.