Severely criticized and not approved by the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education, ENQA. Now, Harriet Wallberg-Henriksson has been assigned the task to investigate how the Evaluation System of Higher Education in Sweden can be improved.
What was your attitude towards the current Quality Assurance System during your time as Principal of Karolinska Institutet?
“Let’s put it this way; I clearly saw potential of improvement in the current system.”
“I don’t want to comment that since I will investigate the matter.”
Will you propose a suggestion of how to improve the current system, or will you create a completely new system?
“My mission is not about pampering the current system, but instead to integrate a national evaluation system with the universities’ own. Since this is so clearly stated in my mission, there will be a new system, even though it will be built upon what is good in the current system.”
A couple of weeks ago, The Swedish National Union of Students, SFS, and the united principals of Sweden, presented an official letter to the government, where they expressed the opinion that the learning centres themselves should take care of their own evaluations. Is a national evaluation system really needed?
“That is what I am going to look at and investigate, I suppose.”
But how important is their opinion on this?
“I believe it is really important that the system we choose in Sweden has legitimacy and confidence at the universities, learning centres and among the students. It is a clear part of my mission to communicate with all parties.”
How much will the criticism that ENQA has directed towards the current Evaluation System be considered?
“Quite a lot. Even if the ENQA is not directly stated in my mission, it is a part of it to adapt it to European practice. It is obvious that Sweden should have a quality system that can function in harmony with the other European countries.”
It is also stated in your mission statement that you will see how students can get a more important role. Do you have any thoughts on how that could be realized practically?
“Yes, of course I do, but I don’t want them to be put in print now.”
But how are you going to gather the students’ opinions?
“I am going to talk to SFS and students at the different learning centres I visit. I will also be important to have a dialogue and take experience from those students that have taken part in our current system. They naturally have thoughts about what have been good and what could be improved.”
You have until December 1. Will you make it on time?
“It is a very short time. It will take hard and intense work and then we’ll see if we reach through.”
If I have understood the matter correctly, there will be a new evaluation system to come into force as soon as January 2015.
“Yes, we’re left with no alternative since the current evaluation cycle ends by the turn of the year. It remains to see if it will be the first of January 2015 or if a transitional period will be needed.”
The government found out a bit too late.
“Yes, but they will have to answer to why they did not realize this earlier.”
Text: Annika Skogar
Translation: Charlotte Fransson