Chapter 3: Quality Assurance: Quality Conduct 2.0


  • we developed the Quality Conduct 2.0 with its focus on a permanent quality culture based on a long participatory process with our faculties, study programmes, and an external benchmark. The system is based on trust in our faculties and study programmes, and on monitoring and self-reflection. It requires no additional efforts on the part of our study programmes in terms of reporting obligations or the organization of (peer learning) visits. Based on the first screening results we can confidently state that the system works, that a broad quality culture is present, and that points for improvement come to light so that appropriate coaching initiatives can be provided;
  • the Quality Conduct 2.0 is a good breeding ground for cultivating trust and autonomy. Our study programmes and faculties look forward to the Quality Conduct 3.0, a system in which quality assurance processes will run in the background, fed by a quality culture that is made sufficiently visible by the available tools. Thanks to the administrative capacity of our faculties we are truly able to leave quality control behind us and focus on trust and support;
  • the Annual Quality Meeting has shown itself to be a highly performing monitoring process in the past few years. It will continue to exist as a process based on mutual trust and partnership for following up our faculties’ and study programmes’ education policy, their fulfilment of the operational objectives, actions and improvement policy systematically;
  • similarly efficacious has been the mandatory/tailored coaching programme, much more so than the peer learning visits. Various case studies have allowed us to determine that the coaching programme is a powerful remedial tool for education quality. Whereas the system of peer learning visits largely left study programmes to their own devices to address their points for improvement, the coaching programme focuses on professional development of Programme Committee members and results in a sustainable quality improvement;
  • the Institutional Review committee (2016) advised a stronger student involvement in formulating study programmes’ strengths and weaknesses. We have realized this by means of the so-called student reflection. At this point already, the first screenings have clearly proven the student reflection to be an important and useful tool. It offers an in-depth perspective on study programmes and gives students an additional means of making themselves heard;
  • the screenings, as they are now being performed by the EQB members, go well. The EQB is a highly performing policy body and its screenings and recommendations show great consensus. The composition of the EQB allows for complementary expertise and multiperspectivism. Its external members are an invaluable addition. The integration of the Education Monitors, the UGI data sets, the quality improvement plan and the Programme Committee minutes paint an accurate picture of a Programme Committees day-to- day operation;
  • the real-time link between the Education Monitors and programme-specific data in UGI allow study programmes to identify their weaknesses and points for improvement much better than before, and to take subsequent action. The screenings have revealed a high degree of congruence between study programmes’ self-reflection and the available data. The ensuing quality improvement plan ensures that study programmes commit themselves to a specific timing, actors and actions.


  • the transition from external six-yearly quality reviews to a permanent quality culture by means of our own Quality Conduct has led in our study programmes to an increase of continuous (as opposed to momentaneous) quality assurance. Launching the Quality Conduct 2.0, however, exacted a high investment of our study programmes and faculties: they had to discuss, validate, and describe the entire PDCA in their Education Monitors, i.e. the stable (P&D) as well as the more dynamic (C&A) parts in one stretch, while at the same time reckoning with education organization in times of corona. It will be of paramount importance to keep our study programmes motivated to perform their checks and adjust their improvement plans (at least) annually;
  • a group of study programmes and lecturers still feels that the Quality Conduct 2.0 causes too high a workload and too much of an administrative burden. They perceive working with the Education Monitor and the concomitant self-reflection exercise as a purely administrative task with little or no added value to the quality of education. We must not lose sight of these grievances. We must also continue our dialogue with this group of study programmes and lecturers in order to reduce the work load as much as possible, and to consolidate those aspects that really contribute to the quality of our education;
  • study programmes and faculties have indicated that the wealth of data (being updated regularly and bringing together different perspectives) can be overwhelming and stressful, giving the impression that self-reflection processes have to be restarted with every new data update. Expectation management - or in other words, explaining that an annual check/reflection is sufficient - therefore, is crucial. It is also important not to dwell too long on the analysis of the data, but to focus on the related improvement actions, whereby study programmes and faculties have the autonomy to determine priorities in their own improvement actions. Making our digital information systems even more efficient and keeping the administrative burden to an absolute minimum is also an important element;
  • as far as the external perspective is concerned, we need to move away from the idea that it is a requirement generating excess workload and imposed by external forces by emphasizing its important and integrated role in our Quality Conduct 2.0 and 3.0. Integrating it systematically into a study programme’s operation will require further attention, time, and coaching;
  • from experience, we know that even in a climate of trust, the quality culture in a study programme depends strongly on the Programme Committee’s policy-making capacities and the Programme Committee chair. In addition, of course, faculty management – i.e. the Director of Studies, the departments that appoint lecturers, and policy support on programme/faculty level is just as crucial. The new career plan for members of the professorial staff values education policy assignments more than before, and gives more autonomy to those who wish to take up such assignments. In other words, we have done away with the negative impact that was linked to investing in education and education policy on promotion opportunities (either fast-track or regular promotion). Investment in education policy from our professorial staff is crucial but not always self-evident. Education policy assignments entail great impact, responsibility and fulfilment, but they also generate a heavy work pressure. An important point for improvement on the part of the university is continued recognition and appreciation of those who take on these assignments, complemented by sufficient support, coaching and professional development initiatives at faculty and university level;
  • during the Quality Conduct 2.0 phase, the EQB’s role altered and the workload for its members increased. Screening more than 100 Education Monitors, followed by a synthesis report, a quality assurance resolution, and an updated publicly available information results in a continuous workload. Containing this workload is a point to consider.