Ghent University’s Institutional Review is a Resounding Success

Studenten in auditorium Leon De Meyer
Studenten in auditorium Leon De Meyer

Right before our Dies Natalis, the good news has reached us that NVAO (Accreditation Organisation of the Netherlands and Flanders) will issue Ghent University a positive report.

Our university has developed a comprehensive and well-functioning system to monitor and ensure the quality of all our study programmes. That is the conclusion to which the international review committee charged with assessing our quality assurance processes and their implementation at study programme and faculty level has come.

Quality Assurance and Multiperspectivism

During the Institutional Review, NVAO found that quality culture at Ghent University is embedded at all policy levels: ranging from our study programmes and faculties to the central administration. The education policy we pursue is aligned perfectly with our vision on education, and works systematically towards our education objectives.  The review committee is of the opinion that our evidence-based quality assurance system works, and that it enables us to monitor, develop and ensure the quality of each individual study programme.  

The committee also notes that Ghent University has built its monitoring on six university-wide, strategic education objectives that are fine-tuned and tailored to each individual study programme.  It also recognizes the importance of multiperspectivism as part of our vision on education, and serving as the bedrock for the other five education objectives.  Those strategic objectives, the report states, have permeated the faculties and study programmes in a holistic manner. They are implemented, operationalized, and monitored by means of a solid quality assurance system.  It is a system that invites self-reflection and continuous improvement, NVAO says. 

Research-based Education

The review committee praises the innovative power and research-based nature of Ghent University education. New initiatives are being developed and supported by an enthusiastic staff.  This is something which the new HR policy encourages. The promotion policy also recognises excellence in education as an outspoken strength, so the committee notes.  

The committee encourages Ghent University to continue to involve external stakeholders systematically, in curriculum design as well as in quality assessment.  Taking our cue from the principle of multiperspectivism, we educate students who dare to think. The committee sees further opportunities in making this objective as well as our credo ’Dare to Think’ more specific and more clear in our communication.  

Rik Van de Walle, Ghent University rector: "NVAO’s positive assessment makes me particularly proud.  The report states that Ghent University demonstrates a culture of quality at all levels.  It recognizes our research-based education and praises the concept of multiperspectivism as the bedrock of all our education objectives.  This pursuit of quality is a continuous effort by everyone at Ghent University.  I would like to issue my explicit thanks to everyone who made this great result possible." 
Agneta Bladh, chair of the review committee:  "The panel found that Ghent University convincingly has demonstrated strong commitment to quality culture and to continuous enhancement at all levels.  The university shows robust provisions for quality assurance and to guarantee the quality of its study programmes through a very good in-house Quality Conduct system.  The identity marker of the education vision, multiperspectivism, serves as baseline and roof for the other education objectives, operationalized, implemented and monitored in a coherent and robust system based on the PDCA cycle.  The panel is also impressed by the research-based approach to education and teaching at Ghent University and by the number and variety of innovative projects, which often involve societal partners locally, regionally, nationally and internationally.  These initiatives are developed and taken forward by enthusiastic staff members, many of whom we met at the site visit."  

About the Institutional Review

The Flemish Quality Code is based on trust in the Flemish universities and university colleges. It gives them the responsibility to guarantee the quality of each individual study programme themselves. In return, they go through an institution-wide review every six years.  During such a review, the higher education institutions must be able to prove that they pursue quality policies by means of which they guarantee the quality of their study programmes. The institutional review is conducted by the Accreditation Organisation of the Netherlands and Flanders (NVAO). 

In 2021, NVAO started a new cycle of institutional reviews.  The Institutional Review is one of the instruments NVAO uses to monitor higher education quality in Flanders.  They bring together an external review committee of independent experts.  During several site visits at the institution and by means of dialogue with all the possible stakeholders, this committee examines how an institution’s education policy aligns with its vision on education, and with the social challenges it faces in its own context. In addition, the committee also assesses the quality assurance system an institution has set up to guarantee the quality of its own individual study programmes (quality conduct, in Dutch: eigen regie).