Shared ownership; being informal, efficient and approachable; students who have a say and share ideas; coordination with external stakeholders. These are the four core values that drive our quality culture. They enable us to fully involve our staff, students and alumni in the design and implementation of the education policy and in monitoring the quality of our education.
One important requirement for monitoring and safeguarding educational quality is that all parties at the different levels should assume ownership – from individual lecturers within programme components through to the oversight that takes place within the Education Board, Board of Deans and Board of Governors. These levels reinforce one another. From our Education Day to the programme surveys and evaluation meetings, all these initiatives and bodies shape our quality culture.
The main strength of our quality culture lies in the many informal contact opportunities and short lines of communication within Hasselt University. As well as providing the right conditions for connections between all levels in the organisation, they also allow us to respond quickly.
Students have a say at all levels in the education policy of the institution and the quality evaluation of the programme components, through informal dialogue with the education team, systematic evaluation meetings, education evaluations and other surveys. In addition, student representatives sit on the various consultative bodies. You can find out more about students’ involvement in decision-making on the page about student participation.
Hasselt University also relies on its alumni, employers, peers and internship mentors to evaluate and monitor the quality of its programmes. Our external stakeholders act as our antennae and our sparring partners. This is why they have also been given an important role in the vision committee that is set up every six years for each study programme in the context of the quality assurance cycle.
To ensure the quality of our programmes, they follow a permanent cycle: the VISIO-O cycle.
This is depicted in the diagram below.
When a programme has an approved strategy plan, we also publish a VISIO-O report with the results of this quality assurance. You will find the reports for all programmes at the bottom of this page.
This cycle is overseen for each programme by the Education Management Team (EMT) of that programme. The EMT is responsible for the quality, organisation and content of teaching in the programme. An EMT consists of lecturers and student representatives from a programme.
Participation and representation of and by students are ensured by the structure of the EMTs: one-third of the voting members are students. Depending on the agenda, the EMT chair may also invite experts to attend the meeting in an advisory capacity.
The composition of the EMTs is determined at the start of each academic year.
At Hasselt University, we work together to ensure quality education. EMTs can therefore count on the support of a faculty staff member for education, an educational support officer from the OODI office and the programme’s academic advisor. EMTs can also always contact the central Quality Assurance office with questions.
Faculty staff members for education provide organisational, substantive and educational support to programmes within a faculty. Because they support multiple programmes, they also help ensure coordination between the EMTs within their faculty. In addition, they maintain a short two-way line of communication with the education directors and the central education office employees through the monthly staff meeting. During these consultations, they also share good practices with colleagues from other faculties and schools.
Programme academic advisors support students as they work out their study pathway. Because they work closely with the students, they also organise the programme evaluation meetings that are the characteristic quality assurance tool of Hasselt University. At these meetings, students can give their feedback about the education that is provided.
OODI staff members provide educational support, detect needs for educational professional development, and offer tips on improving the quality of education (for example, by sharing good practices from other programmes).
Staff members of the central Quality Assurance office support the programmes in safeguarding programme quality. They assist programme teams in working through the VISIO-O cycle, manage Hasselt University’s quality assurance tools and monitor the education policy being pursued.
With VISIO-O we do not just take a constructively critical look at the quality of our programmes: we also aim to maintain and improve the standard and the professionalism of our Quality Assurance and OODI (Educational Development, Diversity, Innovation) offices with our internal quality assurance system. A peer review committee therefore subjects these two offices to a critical analysis every six years. A reflection exercise of this kind, in which ‘critical friends’ provide input, reveals the strengths of our services, but more importantly of course it also highlights points for attention. Thanks to the recommendations resulting from a peer review, we can move forward where it is most necessary to do so.
In addition to VISIO-O, Hasselt University also uses various quality assurance tools to chart the quality of the programmes and monitor education. Findings resulting from the use of these tools are included in various steps of the VISIO-O cycle.
Hasselt University attaches great importance to evaluation meetings. At these meetings, students and lecturers exchange views about educational provision in an atmosphere of trust and discuss good practices and points for improvement in the various programme components. Each programme component is discussed at least every two years, allowing a quick solution to be found to any problem. The EMT discusses the results and also reports on them to the students. This reflects the high importance that Hasselt University attaches to student engagement. In addition, lecturers are accessible to students, who are always free to raise questions or concerns with them or other staff members, including in an informal setting.
Through online surveys, students are given the opportunity to say what they think about the quality of education, at the level of both the programme and its components. Other stakeholders such as alumni, lecturers and people from the professional field are also involved in the evaluation of quality at programme level. The aim of these evaluations is to flag up and follow up on the positive points and points for attention within programmes and their components.
Discussions with stakeholders
Hasselt University also engages in ad hoc discussion with students, lecturers, alumni and employers about the programme strategy, programme profile and educational themes. Contact with employers about internships and Bachelor’s and Master’s theses also generates ideas for programme innovations.
Business intelligence system
Hasselt University has a central student and education administration database. Via the business intelligence system, it is possible to perform ad hoc data analyses, including for quality assurance purposes. The system comprises three tools: a dashboard (with information about student intake, progression and leavers, for example), a reporting tool for standard reports and an analysis tool for additional questions.
Study time analysis
The institution has a tool for conducting study time measurements. Among other things, programme managers use this tool to be able to estimate study time when updating the curriculum.
Examination quality monitoring (exam analysis)
Programme managers can analyse the results of multiple-choice exams using a tool, so that the statistical distribution of the exam results can then be discussed.
Educational organisation database (study guide)
In the study guide, programme managers and lecturers record information in ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) information sheets about each programme component’s objectives, learning content, teaching methods, evaluation forms and so on. The student can compile his or her programme on the basis of this information.
In addition to VISIO-O, our in-house system for checking the quality of our programmes, there are also external quality assessments and accreditations. For example, there is a New Programme Assessment before any programme can start, to assess its potential quality. After the programme has started, a first, external programme accreditation ensues, organised in-house. After this, a programme’s accreditation is automatically extended if Hasselt University gains a positive final assessment in the institutional review, which checks the quality of the institution’s educational policy, including the system for safeguarding the quality of its programmes.
More information about these and other procedures can be found on the website of the NVAO, the Dutch-Flemish Accreditation Organisation.
Finally, we would also like to point out that a number of programmes choose to apply for extra accreditation in addition to these accreditations. More information about these accreditations can be found in the information on each programme.
Under the Flemish Qualification System 2019-2025, Hasselt University (like other higher education institutions) accounts to the community for the quality of its education by publishing the information on the quality of each programme on the website. This public information can be found for each programme here.