Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences

Quality

At the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (AUAS), we have the utmost confidence in our employees and their professionalism. It’s our aim to collectively deliver high-quality education and applied research. This ties into our vision at the AUAS.

What’s our approach?

  • Teams determine their own objectives, within the applicable legal and policy frameworks. They also decide on how they will work towards making quality improvements and reflect on their progress with external peers, whom they have selected themselves.  
  • The AUAS educates students to become skilled professionals who are ready to enter the labour market. 
  • We conduct high-quality applied research that is relevant for the professional field, which we work with closely.

Basic quality and beyond

The AUAS aims to offer its employees and students a rich environment for learning and researching. We do this by embedding ownership at the AUAS, which means that we collectively reflect on our professionalism. We realise that we are all responsible, in part, for the greater whole. Our Quality Assurance Policy (in Dutch) describes in detail how we work towards this. The following points are crucial to this policy:

  • Cooperation in teams: we strive to be a continuously learning community of professionals that works together to deliver high-quality education and applied research.
  • Engaged students, who take an active role in determining their own study path and who contribute to improving the quality of (education and research) activities within the AUAS.
  • Being reflective and informed, which is necessary for quality improvement.
  • Integrity, which implies a value-driven way of working and duty of care to guide our students. This also applies to the way we structure procedures for filing a report, objection or complaint.
  • The AUAS vision is an anchor for our ongoing development: our quality assurance policy is an extension of our four vision pillars.  

Monitoring quality

We use various tools to monitor, and reflect on, our quality. Our key quality indicators for education are available in the Quick Facts section of our AUAS website. In addition to these, our teams reflect on their quality level alongside external peers at least twice in a six-year period. This applies for both research and education activites.

Quality assurance cycle

All of our degree programmes at the AUAS participate in the same quality cycle: a midterm review followed by an accreditation. There are usually three years between these assessments. These reflective assessments encourage ownership and a tailor-made approach, based on the four NVAO Standards (Accreditation Organisation of the Netherlands and Flanders).

The AUAS policy states that each degree programme holds a midterm review in between two accreditations. The review is conducted by an external peer review panel, composed of at least three people (at least one student). The degree programmes teams can choose the panel members.

The main difference between an accreditation and the midterm review is that the accreditations focus on public accountability (via the NVAO). The midterm review’s purpose is primarily that of development and improvement, where the focus is on the further progression of the degree programme and internal accountability.  


Connecting internal and external quality assurance

We aim to give degree programme teams more room to manoeuvre when it comes to working on education quality within their programme, and to reduce the perceived burden of quality assurance assessments. Linking internal and external quality assurance processes is part of this.

We are doing this by, for example, participating in the so-called 'institutional accreditation experiment', which aligns midterm reviews and accreditations more closely with one another. Each degree programme therefore shares the outcomes of its discussions with the peer review panel and/or its performance on the NVAO Standards 2 and 3, as part of the experiment.

Please visit our Dutch website for the results of Standards 2 and 3 for each degree programme (this information is coming soon).
 

Institutional Quality Assurance Audit (ITK)

The AUAS voluntarily participates in the ITK (institutional quality assurance audit, also known as the 'institutional audit'). This is a periodic, external and independent assessment, during which the NVAO determines whether the internal quality assurance system and the institution’s quality culture ensure that it is delivering its vision of good-quality education. The AUAS has performed well on the ITK (November 2013  - November 2019) and is therefore subject to the lighter degree programme assessment framework (BOB).

The Netherlands Code of Conduct for Research Integrity is one of the staring points for ensuring the quality of applied research at the AUAS.


External assessment 

In addition to this, every six years all of the research conducted at the AUAS is reviewed by a panel of independent experts during an external assessment. The five standards in the Branch Protocol for Quality Assurance in Research (BKO) form the framework for this and the emphasis is on public accountability. External assessment reports are made available to the public and provided to the CEKO an independent committee for research quality assurance. The CEKO supervises the execution of BKO assessments among universities of applied sciences in the Netherlands. The results of these assessments are available in the CEKO database (in Dutch).

The last external assessment at the AUAS was conducted in 2015 and is available here (in Dutch).


Internal assessment 

An internal research assessment is conducted in between two external assessments.  The objective of an internal assessment is (just like the midterm review for degree programmes) to promote development and improvement of research at the AUAS. The composition of the assessment committee may include internal (for example AUAS employees or students from other faculties) as well as external participants.


AUAS-wide research assessment

Both the internal and the external assessments are conducted across the entire AUAS because the recommendations are relevant for the institution as a whole and for our research policy. All of our research units are assessed in the same period, by a committee which includes an external chairperson and a secretary. This core team ensures that all of the assessments are conducted in the same way regardless of the faculty, enabling cross comparison. Experts are involved in the assessment for each research unit, based on their expertise in that area. The entire committee represents experts in the fields of research, professional practice and education.

Each faculty at the AUAS has its own centre for applied research: this is the structure for research within our institution. These centres form the personal and financial ‘home base’ for our professors and researchers. Research assessments therefore take place at this level (per faculty/centre for applied research).  

Published by  Education and Research 15 October 2019