Challenge 13. Periodically improve/update academic programmes (contents, delivery methods and stakeholders involved) and activities based on evaluation results and new market needs
As quality assurance is a continuous process, once the ‘check’ phase has produced some results, the Quality cycle promotes the transformation of these results into inputs for the improvement and update of HEIs’ programmes and activities.
Students’ feedback and market analysis collected through different evaluation systems (graduate tracking system and feedback loops, for instance) provide a precious set of data that need to be read and interpreted from an innovative perspective.
However, although HEIs are aware of the relevance of valorising evaluation results for enhancing their educational offer, it was demonstrated that this process of improvement is not always inclusive enough. In most of the cases research and business representatives are not engaged with an active role in this stage and HEIs are mainly focused on the update of academic curriculum, activities and contents, and less on the cooperation with external key players.
Guideline 25. Annual review of learning programmes and activities within the FRAMELOG
The education programme can be improved in all its stages: planning, delivery and assessment, and it should be based on the data and feedback collected from the key players involved (HEI staff, business and research organizations, students, policy makers, other stakeholders, etc.).
However, relevant changes should be made at least one time a year in order to avoid confusion on one hand and guarantee quality and up to date education, in line with the innovations and trends registered in the industry and research in the logistic and supply management area.
- After collecting and analysing all the qualitative and quantitative data during the different educational phases, from the relevant players organize a cooperative event (e.g. roundtable, focus groups, etc. – inviting business, research institutions, students’ representatives) and decide upon the changes to be made to the educational programme
- Once the revisions have being done and agreed, promote them to the internal staff that will be involved in the implementation of the revised programme
- Provide training and support to the staff for guaranteeing accurate application of the programme.
- Undertake joint collaborative planning and forecasting with key stakeholders to improve information flow about demand for new market needs.
- Create a maturity model to enable universities and other stakeholders to create a route map for improvement to best performance and determining strategy.
Guideline 26. Ensure readiness for change within the institutions
All the previous guidelines provided demonstrated how to enhance the Quality Assurance within HEIs and the assessment strategies within FRAMELOG. Continuous improvement needs critical review, analysis and, finally, the organization of change, which is, undoubtedly, both the most crucial and critical step.
In practice, it is often seen that the last step of the PDCA-cycle, which is about organizing review and change is not consequently implemented. Therefore, special emphasis has been laid to the question how to ensure that organizational change is going to happen: one approach is to improve the abilities and competences of teachers and staff, the other one is to increase acceptance of change amongst people.
The final question is: how can a culture of change be achieved in the organization, and improvement of quality of education become self-evident? Of course, it is important to make sure that teachers, trainers and other staff of the education provider (that can be HEI, as well as business and research organizations) know about and understand the logic of the PDCA-cycle and of FRAMELOG. This way of thinking and acting should be integrated into the everyday life of HEIs and used systematically in all its areas of operation.
Beyond embedding this attitude and behaviour in the institution, the development of a quality culture is mainly influenced by human factors, which are supported and encouraged by making use of appropriate soft skills, as explained in the following figure (MERI-cycle).
- Support the development of all the necessary skills of staff for ensuring Quality Assurance within FRAMELOG in relation to the educational programmes, with a special focus on the soft skills indicated in the MERI Cycle
- Motivate staff and mobilize resources for continuous improvement in terms of staff training, organizational profile, education programme, cooperation and communication with stakeholders from the logistic and supply chain management area, etc.
- Appreciate and esteem the engagement of staff and stakeholders involved in the educational programme (rewards, public appreciation, engagement in other actions, etc.)
- Reflect and discuss the assessments, evaluations and opinions of staff and stakeholders
- Promote and inspire appropriate improvement (through: accurate monitoring, constructive feedback, peer support, team working approach, etc.).