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A Best Practice Guide for implementing Liberal Arts and Sciences at European Higher Education Institutions, offered to you by EPICUR European University Alliance


Experiences & Quality Management

How can you ensure high standards of quality in your Liberal Arts and Sciences program? 
There are several factors influencing the quality of your programme:
The quality of teaching
Key factor in providing an education that will realize its aims is the nature and the quality of the teaching to which students are exposed.
The academic advising
Furthermore, given the range of choices in a LAS programme, academic advising is crucial. Indeed, the role of the advisor is to assure the quality of the individual degree. The advising is the glue that holds the personal curriculum together. This involves meeting a faculty advisor at least twice per year during which one has to construct a narrative and justify one’s choices. In addition to academic advising, most Colleges also offers Curriculum planning exercises at the very beginning of the program, so that students are well-prepared to make informed choices. In addition, advising is a key component of creating, a distinctive learning environment that is marked by close student-faculty encounters.
The national quality standards you are required to meet
Finally, your own national quality standards may require you to meet specific qualifications. In the Netherlands, this is done through a Domain Specific Framework of Reference (DSFR), which is determined and used by all equivalent programs. The Deans of the, by now, twelve programmes have together published the characteristics of LAS programmes. In the United Kingdom degree programmes have to comply with the Benchmarks of the Quality Assurance Agency and other countries have their own frameworks. Please check your own national requirements as this can greatly differ across Europe.
Questions to ask:
  • What metrics are in places to evaluate the program’s success?
  • When/how often will/does evaluation occur?
Approaches of EPICUR Partners:
The role of the Board of Studies (‘Opleidingscommissie’) is to help safeguard the quality of the degree programme by giving advice to the AUC governance and management team on the programme’s quality and the education being offered. The Board of Studies holds approval rights over the Academic Standards and Procedures (AS&P) and is responsible for performing an annual evaluation of the way in which the AS&P (‘onderwijs- en examenregeling’) have been implemented in addition to advising on any changes the AUC Student Council has legal rights to ensure that students of AUC have a say in how AUC is run. This includes, for example, rights of approval, advisory rights and rights of initiative. An exact definition of these and other rights can be found in the Wet op het Hoger Onderwijs en Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (WHW) and the VU Nadere Regeling Medezeggenschap
The representational rights of AUC employees reside with the Works Council ("Ondernemingsraad") of the Faculty of Science of the University of Amsterdam. The Works Council consults with the faculty administrator (the dean of the Faculty of Sciences) on all policy matters and the organisation's effective performance in terms of all its objectives. The Works Council also issues recommendations on financial policy, organisational policy and human resources policy.
The quality of teaching and interaction between students and lecturers in LAS courses is important for us all. Therefore, at the end of each course you will have a formal possibility to give feedback to the lecturer on such points as the clarity of the material, course organization, and learning outcomes. You will receive a standard online questionnaire with single-choice questions (agree/disagree with suggested statements) and two opentext questions asking you to point out aspects of the course particularly useful for your learning and to formulate suggestions for possible improvement based on your experience in the course. The instructors will provide time to fill in this questionnaire during the course.
We value your feedback and strongly encourage you to participate in each survey. These questionnaires are administered by the university’s central administration who aggregate the data and establish reports with average values for each question and summarized free-text comments. These reports are sent to the lecturers and the academic management of the LAS program. We see the reports as useful information for gaining an overview of learning experiences in LAS courses and as a source for inspiration to improve this experience for students and instructors. Therefore, the reports are discussed in several groups: between the Major Coordinator and the Instructor, between the Academic Director and the Major Coordinator, between the Academic Director and student members of the LAS Board of Studies. Furthermore, each semester, the conclusions from these discussions are presented to the Board of Studies.
In addition to this formal feedback possibility, we encourage you to provide feedback on the course and your learning experience directly to the instructor during or after the course. LAS instructors are usually open to such exchanges as it allows them to adapt the courses to the individual learning interests and styles. Please note that individual preferences and feedback students give on the course differ from person to person, and that instructors take into account these multiple interests when designing and carrying out courses. If the instructor is not responsive to your feedback, you may want to approach the Major Coordinator who can collect impressions from several students and back your requests. In case you have suggestions for a program component (e.g. Core or Major), please approach the responsible Coordinator. If you have suggestions for LAS overall, please approach the Academic Director. In case of sensitive issues or if you are not sure how to best proceed.
Each semester, students participate in an online feedback poll to describe their experience in the program and in the particular classes. A faculty-wide legislation obligates Program Councils to invite graduates of programs to focus interviews (first cohort of LAS will be interviewed in 2023). All programs in the faculty are evaluated internally once a year. The AMU-LAS-Bachelor is under the ongoing supervision of the Centre for Liberal Arts and Sciences and Faculty Group for Programs and Evaluation.

Last edited: 28. Oct 2022, 12:33, [sr1149@uni-freiburg.de]