MDH researchers as experts in Högskoleverket’s quality review

Feb 10, 2012 | Research/Cooperation

Following a commission by the Government, Högskoleverket [‘the Swedish National Agency for Higher Education’] carries out nationwide evaluations of university programmes leading to at least a bachelor’s or a professional degree. Two professors from Mälardalen University have been appointed as experts in this context, namely Sture Packalén (German) and Eva Sundgren (Swedish/Nordic Languages).

- To be chosen for this task implies a lot of trust and is a quality indicator for Mälardalen University’s courses and study programmes in the subject, says Sture Packalén.

Sweden’s universities have nominated suitable experts for the different subjects, and of those Högskoleverket has then appointed some to be part of the reviewing group for the subject in question. The group for German, for example, comprises 4-7 experts on the subject, 1-2 students and 1 business representative. For bigger subjects, such as Swedish/Nordic Languages, there’ll be some additional members.

- It is especially gratifying for me to become a subject expert in the reviewing group, since there is no representative from any other Swedish högskola for the subject Swedish/Nordic Languages. The others are all from the regular universities, says Eva Sundgren.

The reviewing groups are starting their work now, and between February and April representatives from all the higher education institutions concerned will be called to introductory meetings on how the review is to be carried out. When it comes to German Studies, there are 8 universities and 11 programmes, while for Swedish Studies there are many more.

The point of departure for the various reviews are the learning objectives for the programme to be reviewed, and the actual data on which the review is to be based consists of four different parts: the students’ independent projects (degree projects), the universities’ self-evaluation, the students’ experiences, as well as a questionnaire sent to previous students. In practical terms, the evaluation of the degree projects implies that five such projects from each of the programmes reviewed at each university will be collected, assessed and discussed in the reviewing groups.

- The reviews can be experienced as something of a nuisance, but they represent a good review of the situation for these subjects in the country and function as a precondition for improvements, says Sture Packalén.

The aim of the reviews is that students get as good an education as possible, anywhere in Sweden. The assessment will also be very just, since all degree projects will be anonymized, meaning that the reviewing groups will know neither who has written them nor what university they come from.

- It offers a chance to new universities to show that they can be as good as the big, established seats of learning, says Sture Packalén.