Institutional accreditation gives staff at the individual institution greater responsibility for the quality and relevance of programmes and for quality assurance. Therefore, the primary task of accreditation is to support the quality assurance carried out at the institution.
An accreditation panel is set up before institutional accreditation begins. The panel must assess the institution’s quality assurance system in relation to each of the five criteria and as a whole. This includes the way in which the system ensures the quality and relevance of the institution’s programmes and local provisions of programmes in practice.
The accreditation panel
The Danish Accreditation Institution sets up the accreditation panel, which must have at least three members, but where larger and academically broader institutions are concerned will have more members. The panel will have a chairperson who will be responsible to the panel for the dialogue with the education institution and the Danish Accreditation Institution.
The Danish Accreditation Institution will appoint the members of the panel in such a way as to ensure that they collectively cover the areas listed below:
- Expertise in quality assurance at institution level
- Expertise in the higher education sector in general
- Knowledge of relevant labour market conditions
- National as well as international expertise
- Student representation.
The Danish Accreditation Institution is the secretariat for panels and draws up accreditation reports.
The accreditation panel is described in greater detail in section 11.2.4 of the guide.
Institutional accreditation takes its point of departure in the institution’s written policies, strategies and procedures that are of relevance to quality assurance. The panel must decide how the quality assurance system ensures the quality and relevance of the institution’s programmes in practice, which is primarily done with the help of audit trails. Audit trails are described briefly below and in greater detail in section 8 of the guide. The use of audit trails to illustrate the quality assurance system in practice means that you need not document every aspect of your performance of quality assurance at all levels of the institution, but simply document your practice in selected areas. Quality assurance covers the work you perform to strengthen and develop programme quality.
You must first describe the policies, strategies and procedures you have established in order to live up to the Accreditation Act and the expectations in the ministerial order for your quality assurance system in a self-evaluation report. The report must also contain the reflections of the institution’s management over the institution’s quality assurance system and the performance of quality assurance, information regarding how the system relates to the general strategies and characteristics of the system and the challenges and development potential of the quality assurance system. This is described in greater detail in section 4.2. of the guide.
Finally, the accreditation panel must have access to key figures on the progress of studies, drop-out rates and employment/unemployment in connection with your programmes and local provision of programmes. Read more about key figures in section 4.3. of the guide.
The self-evaluation report
The self-evaluation report from the institution must contain:
- Documentation for the quality assurance system, including quality policies, strategies, procedures, descriptions of processes and the division of labour that support the quality assurance system.
- The management’s reflections on how the quality assurance system functions and how the management intends to work on the continued development of the system. Unless these data can be found in central databases, the self-evaluation report must contain key figures on the progress of studies, drop-out rates and employment/unemployment in connection with your programmes and local provision of programmes. The self-evaluation report is described in greater detail in section 4 of the guide.
The accreditation panel will meet to discuss the institution’s quality assurance system on the basis of the self-evaluation report. The panel will then make its first site visit where the panel members will want to meet the institution’s management, representatives for teachers, students, potential employers’ panels and relevant administrative staff. The Danish Accreditation Institution will discuss who should take part in the various meetings with the education institution. In consultation with the education institution, the panel will decide which audit trails will be used to illustrate the performance of quality assurance in practice. There will also be a discussion to determine which documentation the education institution must forward to illustrate the individual audit trails.
An audit trail takes up a given issue across a number of programmes or academic areas or takes detailed account of the quality assurance of a programme or a group of programmes. The purpose of audit trails is to provide a number of concrete examples regarding how the institution’s quality assurance system functions in practice.
The panel will decide the audit trails that will be selected in consultation with staff at the institution.
Audit trails are described in greater detail in section 8 of the guide.
The audit trails selected will be used during the accreditation panel’s second site visit. The panel will meet the management, teachers, students and external stakeholders, etc., who can help to illustrate a given audit trail. On the basis of the accreditation panel’s analysis and assessment of the overall documentation material, i.e. your self-evaluation report, the various meetings during the two site visits and the audit trails, the panel will evaluate the individual criteria and perform a holistic assessment of your quality assurance system and practice. The holistic assessment will constitute the basis for a recommendation to the Accreditation Council, and the council will make a decision regarding institutional accreditation on the basis of the accreditation report.
Students are the point around which the institution’s educational activities revolve so they also play an important role in connection with institutional accreditation. Firstly, the accreditation panel always has a student member. Secondly, the members of the panel meet students at the institution during the first and second site visits. During the first site visit, the members of the panel meet student representatives who possess detailed insight into the institution’s quality assurance system. They could be members of the board, the student council and committee as well as student organisations at the institution. The aim of these meetings is to obtain students’ evaluation of quality assurance at the institution in general. During the second site visit, the members of the panel meet students who are of relevance for illustrating the audit trails that have been selected in order to obtain their evaluation of the performance of quality assurance in practice. They could be students from the programmes included in the audit trails or students who make use of student counselling if this has been selected as an audit trail.
Decisions and consequences
At the end of an institutional accreditation process, the Accreditation Council will decide whether the institution will receive positive accreditation, conditionally positive accreditation or a refusal of accreditation.
|Positive||With the exception of a few, clearly delimited problems, the quality assurance system is well-described, well-argued and well-functioning in practice.||Opportunity to establish new programmes and new local provisions of programmes when these have been pre-qualified and approved, and to make adjustments to existing programmes.|
|Conditional||Most of the quality assurance system is well-described, well-argued and reasonably well-functioning in practice.
In its decision, the Accreditation Council will point out less well-functioning areas that staff at the institution must subsequently follow up within a given time horizon.
|All new programmes and local provisions of programmes must be externally accredited before they are established.|
|Refusal||There are several significant shortcomings in the structure or function of the institution’s quality assurance system in practice.||The education institution cannot establish new programmes or local provisions of programmes. Existing programmes must be accredited in accordance with a rota plan.|