24 December 2018 • Metten Knüppe
Quality assurance. It’s important, right?
Three months ago I started two projects at the University of Applied Sciences. One of them is to design a plan outlining how THUAS can invest more in the quality of education using the money that we receive from the government’s student loan scheme. I wrote my previous two blogs about this. The other project is about preparing the University of Applied Sciences for the Institutional audit on quality assurance for which we will be inspected in a year’s time.
Quality assurance. As soon as you say it, people’s eyes start to glaze over. Quality assurance is just like Europe – very important, but it doesn’t really interest anyone. This probably has to do with the associations that it awakens in people of thick manuals, procedures and, especially, lots of extra work.
And that’s a pity because quality assurance is actually quite simple. It means that you are continuously improving. This happens already in many places of the University of Applied Sciences. We came across some good examples during the discussions that our project group has had with all sorts of people at the University of Applied Sciences. We published these over the last few weeks on H|Nieuws. One example is the International Business lecturers who have designed a system with which they can see what could be done better in each subject, and what is needed to make these improvements. Another is the lecturers of Nutrition and Dietetics who created a new profile for the profession as a way of updating the entire curriculum to the satisfaction of both students and lecturers.
But when I leafed further back in the H|Nieuws archive, I saw very many more good examples of continuous improvement. Only, at the time we did not give them the label ‘quality assurance’. For example, one lecturer taught her students to give sales pitches by using flirting techniques used in bars. The degree programme that reduced the number of long term students through more intensive coaching. But also the new way of making and signing diplomas that saves 15 minutes of work per diploma, time that could be used on teaching.
A little bit better every day.
We are making THUAS a little bit better every day. This is the message that the Board’s chair, Leonard Geluk, repeats regularly, just as he did this week again. As far as I am concerned, this is a call to not lose the essence of quality assurance in our work. To continuously improve. As one of my sounding board partners noted recently, that this is also a question of discipline. And maybe that is at the heart of our preparations for the Institutional audit on quality assurance. To make sure that we embed the discipline to continue to improve our way of working. Even if we are busy (which is often the case).
No quality manuals
You don’t need quality manuals for this, and neither do you need to get a green belt in the Lean Six Sigma. But it doesn’t happen by itself. This is why the project group is talking to all the faculties and services about what they need to continually improve. So that it does not lead to a pile of extra work, but helps our lecturers and support staff to help make the University of Applied Sciences a little better every day.
Metten Knüppe became the project leader of the Institutional Audit of the Quality Assurance and Quality Agreements on 1 October 2018. The question he hears most frequently is, “great, but what exactly do you do?”. In his monthly blog, Metten attempts to make these rather abstract subjects accessible to students and staff. If only because everyone will be affected by them over the next year.