The quality assurance system of the University of Iceland is based on the European Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area – ESG 2015 and the Icelandic Quality Enhancement Framework – QEF.
Quality culture is one of the main focuses of the new Strategy of the University of Iceland 2016-2021, HÍ 21. The Strategy is intended to ensure that research and degrees meet international criteria and quality requirements, which is the basis for the trust the University has earned in Iceland and internationally. The success of the University is based on common values, clear policy, systematic planning, performance reviews based on reliable information and continuous reform.
The term 'quality culture' therefore means that tools and processes are in place to define, measure, evaluate, ensure, and improve quality. But quality culture is also a mentality, whereby University staff work together for continuous reform in order to achieve objectives that improve operations across the entire University.
Quality Board for Icelandic Higher Education
Chapter IV of the Higher Education Institution Act no. 63/2006 explains how quality assurance of teaching and research shall be conducted, with more detailed provisions given in Regulation no. 321/2009. The Minister has assigned the Quality Board for Icelandic Higher Education the task of following up quality assurance. The Quality Board set forth the Icelandic Quality Enhancement Framework (QEF), which stipulates the systematic review of the quality of Icelandic higher education institutions on a regular basis. The review involves internal reviews (self-reviews) within universities on the one hand, and on the other hand external reviews of the universities by the Quality Board.
The first phase of the Framework (QEF1) lasted from 2010-2016. All 25 faculties of the University of Iceland as well as two interdisciplinary units carried out the required self-reviews. The University as a whole submitted a self-review report in the autumn of 2014. Following this, external experts conducted an assessment, resulting in a separate report. The University has since submitted a so-called follow-up report, detailing how comments from external experts have been addressed.
The period 2017-2023 marks the second phase of the Framework (QEF2). The institution-led subject reviews focused in particular on the quality of study programmes as well as research management. Quality assessment is based on the Quality Board's Quality Enhancement Handbook. Moreover, separate instructions have been prepared for University staff.
Organisation of quality assurance
The Rector is responsible for the implementation of the University's quality assurance system, whereas school deans, faculty heads, directors, and managing directors hold responsibility for the quality of operations within their respective operating units.
The role of the University Council Quality Committee is to ensure the quality of teaching and learning, research as well as governance at the University of Iceland. This involves supporting the formal University quality assurance system and enhancing quality culture within the University. A formal statement of duties defines the Quality Committee's responsibilities. The Committee works closely with other parties involved in central quality assurance management within the University, such as the Academic Affairs Committee, the Science Committee, central administration, school administration, and those service units under its auspices.
The University's Director of Quality Management follows up decisions taken by the Quality Committee. The Director works on improving quality culture within the University of Iceland in line with the University's Strategy and implements the Quality Enhancement Framework.