Challenge 1. Integrate the Knowledge Triangle in Quality Assurance Policies and QA Culture
All HEIs that have official recognition have in place a kind of Quality Assurance Management System since they are periodically monitored by the specific national/regional public bodies in the Member States. Moreover, they also have some European based QA standards that are invited to follow (e.g. ESG).
In addition, considering the results of the project previous activities, it was noticed that there are many HEIs active and/or interested to become more active in the implementation of the Knowledge Triangle.
However, the main difficulties HEIs have to deal with are related to the following aspects:
- Definition and implementation of QA with a systemic approach
- Spread of the quality culture and QA implementation at all levels within the organizations
- Active involvement of HEIs governance and of the different actors of the Knowledge Triangle (business and research). This difficulty is rather common for the logistics and supply chain management area
- Definition and implementation of the common points between QA and the Knowledge Triangle.
Guideline 1. Include Quality Assurance in the HEIs, Business and Research Institutes’ strategic objectives and vision
In order for an organization to build a strong quality assurance culture, it is necessary that the organization’s scope and policy at macro level include clear indications to it. Therefore, for guaranteeing the quality of their educational activities, HEIs, companies and research organizations are expected to make direct reference to Quality Assurance when defining their strategic objectives and the vision.
- Define a Policy Statement including Quality Assurance as key principle in the core values and Vision of the organization (e.g. refer to: ’quality education’, ‘education relevant for the labour market’)
- Develop an Organizational Chart, a diagram that illustrates the structure of the organization and the relationships and relative ranks of its parts and positions/jobs (often called organigram). In this chart it is important to integrate the quality process as well
- Define Strategic objectives, that represent intermediary and incremental advances within the overall strategic plan in reaching the strategic goal regarding the implementation of quality education
- Define Quality objectives that aim at guaranteeing the conformity to requirements, at facilitating the effective deployment and improvement of the quality management system (QMS) at organizational level.
Define your own supply chain(s) in conjunction with your industry partners. Include supporting partners in HEIs and research institutions that provide educational and consultancy services. These partners can contribute to the efficient management of knowledge flows in the supply chain.
Guideline 2. Engage HEIs governing bodies in the definition and concrete implementation for the QA within FRAMELOG
In order to build a culture of quality for the educational programmes provided by HEIs, it is necessary to guarantee the actual involvement of the governing bodies in the definition and implementation of Quality Assurance within FRAMELOG. It is highly relevant that quality is shared by the top management and further disseminated to the organizations’ staff at all levels.
- The Top Management is aware of the QA principles and opportunities and support quality implementation within FRAMELOG
- Governing bodies provide actual support for ensuring the quality of educational offer in line with FRAMELOG (e.g. provide necessary resources, disseminate quality principles, collect feedback from key stakeholders, etc.)
- Quality is being monitored periodically by the top management and continuous improvement is guaranteed.
Describe the value of a culture of continuous improvement within supply chain and other organisations.
Guideline 3. Develop joint Quality Assurance procedures and tools within FRAMELOG
The key focus of FRAMELOG is the ‘cooperation’ among the relevant actors: HEIs, companies from the logistics and supply management area and research institutions. Therefore, this cooperation is expected to be not only a general agreement, but also a practical approach to ensure the quality and relevance of the educational programmes. After having defined the quality objectives and strategies, it is important that HEIs engage also the other players in defining and implementing concrete quality processes.
- For each quality objective define specific performance indicators, implementation procedures and tools, taking into consideration also the quality standards implemented by the other players (business and research)
- When defining the specific procedures and tools, indicate also the role of the other players and how they should be involved in the precise quality activity
- Based on the feedback received from the business and research institutions, continuously update and improve the quality procedures and tools in order to be in line with their quality requirements.
Benchmark your organisation and learn through good practice; set up a benchmarking club encompassing the wider FRAMELOG participants.
Challenge 2. Plan a methodology/procedure for the creation of a sustainable network of relevant stakeholders
Although most of the HEIs structurally cooperate with external players (in particular with the business sector and research institutions), not all of them are used to have a concrete ‘Stakeholders’ Engagement Plan’ for facilitating the stakeholders’ (such as: guest professors, researchers, business professionals from the logistic and supply chain management area in particular) identification, attraction, participation in the academic activities to support students’ life (e.g. curriculum design, internships, theses, PhDs, scholarships, fellowships, funds etc.) and career (e.g. joint working transition plan and career preparation plan).
Guideline 4. Develop and maintain a sustainable network of stakeholders to be engaged in FRAMELOG
Specific recommendations for setting up a Stakeholders’ Engagement Plan have been provided in O2 A3. This guideline is mainly referred to ‘how to ensure the sustainability of the network’. Formal agreements between HEIs and business and research represent one of the key principles of the FRAMELOG. In order to guarantee quality and relevance of the educational programmes, it is highly important that this collaboration is a ‘long lasting’ practice rather than ‘on the spot’ action.
- Define specific objectives and indicators for the involvement of stakeholders into QA of the HEIs and the offered educational programmes (e.g. in which quality areas and to what extent the different stakeholders should be involved, how many of them, typology of stakeholders, impact envisaged on the educational programme, etc.)
- Continuously monitor the state of art concerning the involvement of stakeholders into QA of the HEIs within FRAMELOG
- Implement appropriate measures for ensuring long collaborations with stakeholders (e.g. based on their feedback, adjust the educational programmes, the collaboration processes, etc.)
- Promote collaborations (e.g. through website, dissemination materials – leaflets, publications, etc., public presentations, etc.) and their results internally and to wider public in order to ensure visibility and recognition
- Use the FRAMELOG Case Studies of Good Practice to help identify, build and sustain a network of stakeholders.
Example: The Novus trust link with the University of Huddersfield, a partnership between major companies across a wide range of business sectors that recognise the need to reinvent the way in which the supply chain profession finds and prepares its future leaders (www.novus.uk.com).
Guideline 5. Organize periodical events for sharing educational results achieved within FRAMELOG
Since FRAMELOG is based on the principle of ‘cooperation’ for ensuring higher quality and relevance of the educational programmes provides by HEIs in the logistics and supply chain management area, the organization of periodical events represents a key recommendation for supporting the actual implementation of FRAMELOG. When and which type of events should be organized, depends mostly on the specific context and requirements, such as: lessons and assessment calendar, availability of key players, trends and innovations in the logistics and supply chain management area, etc.
- Agree (together with the key players) an Annual Plan for events, indicating: type of event, objectives of the event, targeted audience (qualitative and quantitative indications), venue and date, marketing strategy
- Engage companies and research institutions is the organization of each event, based on their specific professional profile, interests and availability
- Promote these events and stakeholders’ involvement widely, in order to give visibility and recognition at local, national and international level
- Assess the results of these events (through questionnaires, interviews) against the envisaged objectives and take measures for further improvements
- Disseminate the positive results achieved through these events with the objective to motivate stakeholders to support these type of cooperation activities.
Together with key stakeholders, organise an event as part of the annual ‘European Supply Chain Day’ to raise awareness of the value of logistics and supply chain activities in people’s everyday lives (www.supply-chain-day.com).
Challenge 3. Ensure appropriate human (specialized, updated and trained staff) and material resources (facilities, infrastructures and technologies) for the FRAMELOG implementation
The “FRAMELOG” project core intention is based on the co-creation and co-management of the Knowledge Triangle in the logistic area, developing the collaboration between the actors involved. Therefore, also the organizational resources, in terms of lecturers, technical equipment, locations, etc. should be shared among the key players. However, this is a challenge in most academic contexts and leads to difficulties in innovating academic education. In addition, in this context the challenge is even wider since it is based also on the difficulty that HEIs have in guaranteeing the responsibility and accountability of the resources involved (internal and external). For example, in many cases HEI’s still have a rather ‘traditional’ structure, and although they are taking actions to modernize it for turning it into a more ‘cooperative’ structure, there is still room for improvement.
Guideline 6. Appropriate selection and training of staff in relation to FRAMELOG implementation
It is important that the quality of teachers is in line with the labour market and research demands and with the level of students that need to be improved permanently. Therefore, investment in guaranteeing appropriate professional competences of the HEIs’ staff is necessary. Quality of education through successful implementation of the FRAMELOG depends on highly qualified Professors. Therefore, highest possible care should be applied on the selection and training of Professors and other HEIs staff.
- Define selection criteria and objectives based on the educational programmes designed in collaboration with companies and research institutions from the logistics and supply management area
- For the selection of staff set-up specific quality standards (e.g. study title, qualifications, experience, etc.) that refer to their qualification and/or to the professional experience
- Support professional training of the staff, in collaboration with the key players and based on the permanent update of the educational programmes and on the innovations occurred
- Encourage teaching staff to join their national Logistics Association and participate in the activities of the association to ensure their continuing professional development (CPD) is current and relevant.
- Encourage teaching staff to seek individual accreditation through the European Associations in the field
- Use resource planning software to optimise the cost effectiveness of operations.
Guideline 7. Active involvement of business, research actors and public institutions for the provision of appropriate resources for the organizations involved in the Educational Process, particularly HEIs
In order for HEIs to provide quality educational programmes it is necessary to ensure appropriate resources, in terms of experts, logistics, updated contents of the educational programmes, innovative teaching methods, financial support, etc. These can be obtained through various actions and with the support of several stakeholders, according to their professional profile and role. In particular, these resources can be obtained through projects financed at local, national, European and international level; through direct support from the business and research sector; through private funding from private and public institutions, etc. It is necessary to underline that these resources are not only financial resources, but can also be translated into logistics, equipment, professional expertise.
- When planning educational programmes (within FRAMELOG), indicate also the resources needed and how HEIs are expected to obtain them also with the support of external stakeholders
- Train HEIs staff (through customized training programmes, conferences, seminars, meetings with policy makers and financing bodies, etc.) to design and manage projects in the field of higher education, financed by private and public institutions/organizations
- Involve companies, research and public institutions in educational programmes, in order to motivate and to give them the opportunity to have an active role in supporting education in the logistics and supply chain management area.
Promote the support received in order to obtain public visibility and recognition for the quality of the educational programmes, achieved through active collaboration with key players.
Guideline 8. Set-up cooperative learning environment within FRAMELOG for supporting innovation in the logistics and supply chain management area
The way learning takes place nowadays is very different in respect to 10-15 years ago not just in terms of contents (that are changing continuously), but mainly in terms of methodology. We are now facing the ‘learning output’ approach that focuses more on the learning achieved and less on the transmission of knowledge from teacher to the student. Logistic and supply chain management area is a dynamic context with relevant changes in terms of content and concrete tasks to be implemented. Therefore, educational programmes must be customized in order to provide the appropriate knowledge, skills and competences as requested by the labour market and in line with the trends in the research activity. Effective learning takes place in cooperative environments where teachers act more as mentors/facilitators and students learn together from each other. The efficacy of this kind of learning is ensured mainly because the labour market is very interested not only in specific technical skills, but also in skills such as: team work, communication, leadership, learning to learn, active listening, giving and receiving feedback, critical thinking, etc. The last ones are fundamental skills that can guarantee continuous professional development of the future employee and imminent growth for the company.
- In order to create a cooperative learning environment, it is important to refer to FRAMELOG in each phase of the educational programme (planning, delivery, assessment and evaluation, improvement)
- Teachers must be trained to facilitate cooperative learning, involving also researchers, professionals from companies that can contribute with their specific expertise
- Technical instruments should be available in order to facilitate cooperative learning (e.g. equipment, platforms, software, etc). These can be provided not only by HEIs, but also by the research institutions and companies active in the logistic and supply chain management area, based on collaboration agreements.
Challenge 4. Align the contents, programmes, lecturers, educational methods with business requirements and innovative results from research
Despite the active collaborations among the different Knowledge Triangle players, it is still necessary to underline the fact that this cooperation does not always lead to concrete impact on the course contents and programmes development, identification of the most effective teaching methods or on the involvement of teaching experts in the delivery phase.
In most of the cases, the different collaborative actions are limited to specific events and/or training phases without guaranteeing a comprehensive implementation and impact on the actual connection of the academic offer to the labour market needs and trends and to the research innovations.
Guideline 9. Integrate the inputs received from the business and research sectors for defining joint education and training activities
FRAMELOG’s main aim is to enhance the cooperation among HEIs, research institutions and companies in the logistic and supply chain management area. In the previous guidelines we indicated various ways of collaboration for improving the quality of educational programmes through the implementation of FRAMELOG.
It is very important the all the feedback, suggestions, recommendations received from the key players in the occasion of the different collaborative actions, are deeply analysed and integrated in the HEIs activity in order to guarantee quality and relevance of the educational programmes.
- HEIs should be prepared to collect the input received from the stakeholders, research institutions and companies in particular, through specific analysis instruments (e.g. questionnaires, interviews, face to face discussions, round tables, etc.)
- The input received must be analysed carefully in order to extract the most relevant adjustments needed for enhancing the quality of the educational programmes
- Before making the specific integrations to the contents, programmes, lecturers, educational methods, check with the key players and make sure they are the most appropriate
- Continuously improve educational programmes by integrating the input received from stakeholders with the ultimate objective to provide high quality educational programmes and to enhance students’ employability competences.
Connect and build links with key logistics organisations’ research facilities such as DHL and Proctor and Gamble research facilities (www.dhl.com/en/about_us/innovation/dhl_innovation_center.html) (www.pgscience.com/home/rd.html).
Guideline 10. Periodically check the validity of the curriculums based on the labour market/research trends
The sustainable implementation of FRAMELOG should allow for permanent cooperation among HEIs, businesses and research institutions. The results of this cooperation should be evidenced in the educational curriculum that is expected to be always up to date and in line with the labour market needs.
However, adjustments in the curriculum should not be made without a specific planning in order not to create misunderstanding for students and HEIs staff in particular.
- The implementation of the different cooperation activities, as indicated in FRAMELOG, should be planned on periodical basis (e.g. annual) and specific objectives should be defined in relation to these activities
- Eventual revision in the curriculum must be discussed with key players and communicated to stakeholders (internal staff, students, wider public, businesses, research organizations, public institutions, etc.)
- The results of the discussions occurring during the cooperation activities (e.g. bilateral meetings, roundtables, public events, working groups, focus groups) should be collected in shared reports and then implemented in the educational curriculum
- The adjustments to the curriculum should be done periodically – the exact period can be established when the curriculum is being designed (could be every year, or more, also considering the dynamics on the labour market and in the research field)
- Stakeholders should be informed about the innovations that have been made in the curriculum in order to keep them up-to-date and to demonstrate the relevance of the educational programmes.
Connect with applied research networks such as the Logistics Research Network in the UK and Nofoma in Scandinavia for their annual events and publications informing of latest applied research collaborations between logistics practitioners and logistics professionals (https://ciltuk.org.uk/About-Us/Professional-Sectors-Forums/Forums/Logistics-Research-Network) (http://www.nofoma.net/)
Challenge 5. Learning is student-centred and managed in collaboration with key players
The student-centred approach is very much supported by European, national and regional educational policy goals since it is considered to be of high relevance in guaranteeing the quality of education and training.
Although there are many examples of HEIs which implement this approach, it is still difficult sometimes to focus on what students really need in terms of knowledge, skills and competences to develop for their future professional career. This difficulty is mainly due to the limited communication between HEIs and students and external players (research, business, community etc.) from the logistics and supply chain management area. Moreover, managing learning with a student-centred approach in collaboration with key players implies more complexity in planning and organising learning activities, since it requires an active engagement of all parties and, at the same time, individual approach in the learning process.
Guideline 11. Engage students in the training needs analysis with regards to logistics and supply chain management area
The quality of education benefits students who are expected to build relevant competences for professional development. Key players (HEIs, companies in the logistic and supply management area, research institutions) are responsible for guaranteeing this quality and at the same time, they are also beneficiaries as well. The implementation of FRAMELOG represents a concrete instrument that facilitates the cooperation among these players for enhancing the quality and relevance of the educational programmes.
However, the efficacy of the educational programmes depends very much of the learner’s participation and motivation. Considering the EQAVET indicators, quality education means that it is available to all learners irrespective of their individual specific needs.
- Based on the feedback received from students, HEIs should be ready to provide more individualized education programmes (through teacher training, equipment, logistics, etc.). Through cooperative learning, students will have the possibility to express their opinions regarding the educational programme (contents, delivery, assessment, etc.) and the fact that their input is being considered will represent a very strong motivational instrument for enhancing the quality of learning
- Engage students in all phases of education in order to make them feel ‘co-owner’ of their educational process (in the ‘Plan’ phase they can provide input regarding the educational materials, the delivery methods and approaches; in the ‘Do’ phase they can provide feedback regarding the impact and efficiency of the specific delivery approaches and can provide suggestions for adjustments; in the ‘Check’ phase they can provide feedback regarding the relevance and efficacy of the assessment methods and tools; in the ‘Act’ phase they can indicate which can be the most relevant revisions needed)
- HEIs should be ready to collect this input and analyse it, also in relation to the feedback received from other stakeholders, in order to further improve the quality of the educational programmes within the FRAMELOG
- Promote the input collected from students and the revisions made based on this in order to motivate students to be active in their learning process.
Learn from the network of European Students of Industrial Engineering and Management which exists to foster relations between students and is supported by industrial sponsors (https://www.estiem.org/default.aspx).
Guideline 12. Active involvement of the business and research sectors in the analysis of learning needs
The implementation of FRAMELOG represents a concrete instrument that facilitates cooperation among the key players in the logistic and supply chain management area. This collaboration should be present in all phases of education and at all organizational levels.
- Organize/ participate in activities that allow HEIs to better understand and define the labour market needs in terms of knowledge, skills and competences (e.g. round tables, scientific papers, conferences, etc.)
- Select the most relevant players to provide input for defining the learning needs to be addressed through the educational programme (in particular businesses and research institutions). The players must be chosen based on their impact in the research and industry context. They could be: companies, research institutions, agencies that conduct studies regarding the trends in the logistics and supply chain managements areas, high level experts in the area, etc. they could be involved either through public events or through bilateral/group-work meetings and discussions
- Based on the input received, define a list of learning needs and ask for final clarifications (from key players), if necessary.
- Include the defined learning needs in the educational curriculum and periodically update them Erasmus University Rotterdam participation in SmartPort is an example of collaborative approach to student centred learning. SmartPort@Erasmus is a centre of excellence offering port related education and research and connects students, academics and practitioners to focus on future challenges, the dissemination and application of port related know ledge. (https://www.erim.eur.nl/smartporterasmus/).
- The University of Arkansas Innovation Center is the catalyst for the formation of a collaborative community of companies and faculty, linked interdependently in research and development focused on core competencies including supply chain, distribution, logistics and multi-modal transportation and where students work on company sponsored projects (https://artp.uark.edu/innovation-center/).
Challenge 6. Apply a competence-based approach to teaching/training
During the different research activities conducted by the Consortium, it was noticed that the HEIs that provided specific case studies were engaged in improvement processes that involve the integration of competence-based approach in the academic offer and professional training, especially in the technical faculties, including the logistic and supply chain management area. In particular, this competence-based approach implies strong consideration of business requirements.
However, not all HEIs are active in implementing a competence-based approach in their educational programmes. Moreover, those HEIs that demonstrated to be engaged in applying this approach don’t always manage to guarantee a systemic implementation and do not always refer to all stages of education (e.g. curriculum design, content development, teaching methods, delivery approaches and materials etc.).
For example, it was still noticed a mismatch between academic assessment methods/tools (prevalently based on the assessment of acquired knowledge with tools such as questionnaires) and working assessment methods/tools (prevalently based on the resolution of problems and, hence, on the assessment of acquired competences).
Guideline 13. Define competence-based education and training activities
It was underlined before that we are now facing a ‘learning output’ approach that focuses on the results of learning rather than on the time and information provided. This approach means that learning is expected to be assessed not only through the knowledge acquired, but mainly through the skills and competences built. Therefore, the learning activities must also be designed and implemented in order to build and asses specific competences related to the knowledge acquired.
- When defining the learning outcomes, refer to European/national/regional frameworks regarding academic education and professional qualifications. Normally these frameworks provide concrete definitions and requirements regarding what knowledge, skills and competences represent
- Define and assess the learning outcomes in terms of knowledge, skills and competences. It is highly important that the assessment is being made in relation to all the learning outcomes defined
- Design educational activities that enable students to practically develop skills and competences (e.g. through experiments, laboratories, internships, simulations, role play, etc.).
Use the European Logistics Association (ELA) Logistics Standards of Competence as a basis for the development of curricula. These standards of competence have been developed by logistics and supply chain professionals for the logistics profession and are updated on a regular basis to ensure currency (http://www.elalog.eu/elaqf-qualification-standards).
Guideline 14. Set-up work-based assessment procedures and tools
One of the FRAMELOG implementation objectives is to improve the quality of the educational programmes in the logistic and supply chain management area for enhancing the employability opportunities for students. In order to reach this objective, it is necessary to ensure that the different educational phases are in line with the labour market requirements. In particular, since the learning outcomes are defined also in terms of skills and competences, it is important to accordingly assess them. This approach will guarantee quality and relevance of the educational programme for the labour market in particular.
- In relation with the learning outcomes defined, design appropriate assessment methods and tools that involve in particular the labour market actively. We consider as appropriate those tools that allow for accurate evaluation of the specific learning outcomes (K, S, C), involves the key players relevant for the specific topic (also depending on the delivery process) and provides precise evidence for future recognition
- Train teachers, HEIs staff and company personnel to manage the organization of this type of assessment and the evaluation results
- Periodically update the assessment methods and tools, also in relation with the updates in the educational curriculum and based on the companies’ input.
Challenge 7. Obtain an official accreditation for the course
Although most of HEIs are accredited for their academic courses, it has been noticed that this is not very common for the professional training courses in the field of logistics and supply chain management area.
Having an accreditation for a specific professional training course might sometimes be difficult and generally it requires time and resources. In addition, in some Members States it is not easy to choose the most valuable accreditation to obtain as there are more than one accrediting bodies. In addition, based on national/regional legal requirements, professional qualifications can be accredited by public institutions (e.g. Ministry of Labour) and/or private institutions (e.g. professional bodies).
Furthermore, not all HEIs are aware that, for example, in the logistics and supply chain management field, there is also the opportunity to obtain a specific European accreditation.
Guideline 15. Check compliance and conformity of the courses according to regional/national/European standards
Based on Cedefop’s definition, accreditation of an education or training programme represents a process of quality assurance through which a programme of education or training is officially recognised and approved by the relevant legislative or professional authorities following assessment against predetermined standards.
Especially when it comes to higher education there are specific quality standards defined at regional/national and European level and they are mandatory and rather different across Europe.
Within FRAMELOG it is necessary to underline the need to connect the academic sector with business and research therefore, besides official accreditation, it is necessary to highlight the need to address also competence standards defined by other bodies, such as professional associations, companies, etc.
- When planning an educational programme, search for the most relevant accreditation and recognition opportunities, in order to provide high level education and real job opportunities for students
- Involve experts from the professional organizations in the curriculum design team by inviting them in working groups, consultation meetings, discussion about learning strategy and objectives
- Stay informed about new opportunities for recognition of training curriculum by the labour market.
- Further to developing the ELA Qualification Framework, ELA has recently developed and deployed an accreditation process for HEI curricula in logistics and Supply Chain Management. The accreditation process is based on mapping the contents in the University curricula against the Standards of the ELAQF and “grading” the contents in terms of relative coverage of the ELA Standards.
- Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM), Certified in Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) and the Certified in Logistics, Transport and Distribution (CLTD) of The American Production and Inventory Control Society (APICS)
- Mastery Model and Certified Professional in Supply Management (CPSM) of the Institute for Supply Management (ISM)
- The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport -CILT – is a professional body for logistics professionals. A key activity of the institute is to accredit university degrees as meeting the requirements for the highest level of membership of the institute which is Chartered Membership.