Clas Hättestrand porträttbild.
Clas Hättestrand. Photo: Niklas Björling.

The national system for the quality assurance of higher education and research established by the Swedish Higher Education Authority (UKÄ) consists of four components: institutional reviews of the HEIs' quality assurance processes, programme evaluations, appraisal of applications for degree-awarding powers and thematic evaluations. In 2021 Stockholm University is being subjected to investigations into all four components.
The first component, the institutional review, means that UKÄ will review how we systematically assure quality in our courses and programmes. We therefore have a rolling timetable for internal education reviews of all our courses and programmes. At the same time we are building an internal quality assurance system for research, since UKÄ is also tasked with evaluating this in the future.
This begs the question of whether it is worth all the time and effort. Will our work really become so much better as a result of being reviewed to this extent? Undoubtedly, each individual review does indeed provide knowledge and feedback which may be used to improve our work. At the same time we must ask the question as to whether the added value of yet another evaluation is sufficient to make it worthwhile doing. Somewhere there must be a breaking point, where the resources are not sufficient to also simultaneously run and develop our activities, meaning there is a risk that the quality itself suffers. I believe this point has been reached.

In view of the fact that the Swedish Higher Education Authority is now looking into its national quality assurance system in preparation for the coming six-year period, it is my hope that we can stand back and see that the total amount of time that the higher education institutions are devoting to evaluations needs to be reduced. In order to assure quality.

This is a text written by Clas Hättestrand, Vice President, under the subject line “Words from the University's Senior Management Team”, where different members of the university’s management team take turns writing about current issues. “Words from the University's Senior Management Team” is included in each issue of “News for Staff”, a newsletter that goes out to all university employees.