The Assessment panel of the NVAO (Dutch-Flemish Accreditation Organisation) has found the quality care system of Tio to be well constructed. A quality mindset is an intergrated part of the organisation, in part derived from the motivation to offer value for money. For this purpose, assessments are frequently carried out among the stakeholders. The results of these assessments are discussed in various committees, after which suitable improvement measures are formulated. According to the stakeholders - students, lecturers and the Business Advisory Council -implementation of the improvement measures is done rapidly.
Standard 13: The programme is periodically assessed, partly based on verifiable targets.
Tio has a quality system that complies with the NEN-EN-ISO-9001 standard and operates in accordance to the PDCA cycle (plan-do-check-act). The quality system targets are implemented into the product throughout the entire organisation and management system.. Examples of organisation-oriented targets are: ‘clear establishment of the set-up and work agreements in the organisation’ and ‘systematic process control and analysis of results and processes’.
The quality targets with regard to the product are:
- A good study performance (foundation course, in total, study duration of graduates).
- Satisfied students (about the programme, study units and examinations).
- Proficient employability of students in the labour market (labour market satisfactory).
The management system of Tio is extensive. Every aspect of the programme is assessed and analysed. Reports regarding these aspects are recorded in the Annual Education Report
The Quality Forum is responsible for quality assurance. The system development manager (quality portfolio holder in the management team), the education manager and the quality care manager are members of the forum. The Quality Forum is responsible for carrying out all the assessments, giving feedback regarding results, carrying out internal audits, ISO certification and recertification, updating process descriptions and documenting results.
In order to guarantee the quality of the programme, Tio has recently acquired new insights by implementing a new assessment system, which among other things has led to the implantation of a new assessment form. The new system, initially used by work placement coordinators, is paying off. For this reason this system will be introduced to other groups, such as lecturers and final thesis coaches. There is also a framework to assess the functionality of the Tio locations and its staff.
Tio uses objective external sector studies (HBO monitor, National Student Survey and indicators of the HBO council), as well as internal anonymous surveys. The internal surveys are used for assessing a series of courses (after the completion of a study unit) and exams (after every exam). A general survey is carried out once a year. After finalising a work placement, the work placement is assessed by the student - contact with the work placement coordinator and nature of the work activities - as well as by the work placement company - employment of the student and contact with Tio. The manner in which the final thesis process and supervision of the final thesis process took place is assessed by alumni students.
There is also a staff and lecturers survey for employees, which is carried out once a year.
The Assessment panel took notice of the assessment results. The committee has concluded that most of the assessment results have been provided per location and per study course. As a result, the management team can compare the locations and formulate more specific measures for improvement. The Assessment panel finds this to be positive.
The Assessment panel appreciates the ambitious attitude of Tio. The University of Applied Sciences has set out to achieve an above average score in the common assessments, such as the National Student Survey and the HBO monitor. Tio indicates that it deliberately sets high standards for itself, which, according to the committee, is commendable. The National Student Survey shows that the general scores of ITM are higher than those of HEM. Tio considers raising the scores to the same level to be a challenge. From the perspective of quality-based thinking and as a result of the scores, Tio continuously ask itself: what can we do to improve and which actions serve this purpose? Therefore, Tio is working on the details in various areas. For instance, students find that the emphasis on event management in the HEM study course is limited. Consequently, scores in satisfaction surveys are lower across the board. Tio realises that if it increases the emphasis on event management this will most likely have a positive impact on the scores across the board.
The committee has assessed this standard as good. The quality system of Tio seems solid and good. The quality process functions well, which is confirmed by the positive ISO assessment. Maintaining the quality at five locations is a challenge, but partly thanks to the many assessments, Tio is successful in doing so, according to the Assessment panel. Another advantage of the various small-scaled locations of Tio is that there are short lines of communication. The Assessment panel believes assessments take place frequently. This is not only done on paper (surveys), but there are also student meetings (twice a year per location for each study programme) and twice a year the national education committee (exceeding the locations) meets. In addition, there are frequent consultation hours and many informal contacts.
Standard 14: The results of this assessment are the basis for tangilble improvement measures that contribute to the realisation of the targets.
Tio distinguishes various policy cycles: strategic, tactical and operational. The commercial manager, the financial manager and the managing director formulate the strategic policy, which is recorded in the strategic marketing plan. This plan is discussed twice per year with the Supervisory Board, which acts as a sounding board for the management.
The location managers and the department managers formulate the tactical policy cycle. This results in annual department plans, with progress reports every month. Once every three months, the progress of the plans are discussed by the management team. The operational policy cycle consists of a monthly control group, in which the management team discusses and focuses on matters regarding to the daily routine of Tio.
After the accreditation of 2006, efforts were made to further improve the education and supervision of students. Improvements that have been implemented since the last review are for example:
- Improvement of (long-term) projects: projects that are worked on for a lengthy period of time. Concretely, the improvement resulted in making lecturers' manual available and the improvement of the assessment system.
- Further development of assessment form with regard to final thesis tracks, training of the new final thesis coaches.
- Intensification of applied research in the learning pathway Methods and Techniques.
- Increasing the share and scope of reflection in the programme, especially during the final thesis phase and during the work placement. In the first year, attention is also paid to reflection in the Professional Development course, in which students reflect on their own development.
- Accentuate the work placement requirements and making the work placement assessment form more operational. The duration of work placement has also been extended from 10 to 15 weeks, partly because the industry indicated that ten weeks is a relatively short time for work placement.
- Separate examination for speaking, listening, discussing and writing skills, as well as grammar and vocabulary in language courses. The executive summaries in English in the final thesis will be checked by an English teacher.
- Implementing two professorship groups: E-business and Cultural Dynamics.
Apart from improvements due to the last accreditation, additional improvements have been implemented. An example of this is that the performance figures of the total number of graduates, combined with the preliminary training and duration of the study course, have led to extending the study course duration to four years as of the 2012/2013 academic year. The fact that there are students in the various types of preliminary trainings who finish the study course in three years shows that the option of faster completion of the study course is relevant.
Another example of an implemented improvement is the competence model for lecturers, which includes the requirements (education and experience) that a lecturer must comply with. This document is modified annually . As a result, the percentage of lecturers with a Masters degree has increased from 30% percent (2010/2011 academic year) to about 46% in this academic year (2011/2012). The goal for the next academic year (2012/2013) is to reach 50%.
Other examples of implemented improvement measures are the quality analysis with regard to examinations, decreasing the maximum number of participants in a group, starting with international exchanges, setting up a library at every location, implementing the Blackboard, implementing a major-minor structure and adjusting the assessment system for lecturers, final thesis coaches and study coaches.
One of the experts in the Assessment panel was also a member of the Assessment panel that visited Tio in 2006. He appeared to be greatly impressed by the quality improvements and the development that Tio has undergone in the last couple of years. The other committee members, who visited Tio for the first time, were also very positive about the quality system the organisation set up, the nature of the improvement measures and the clearly noticeable quality spur it has led to, for the organisation as well as for the education.
The committee assesses this standard as good. The committee has noticed that all groups of stakeholders (students, lecturers, Employment Advisory Committee) are satisfied about the actions that have been taken and the speed with which these actions are carried out after identifying points of improvement. Since the last review, much has changed, which has unquestionably spurred on quality improvement of the organisation and the study course. All this has greatly advanced Tio in recent years.
Involvement of interested parties
Standard 15: The education committee and board of examiners, employees, students, alumni and the subsequent industry of the study course are actively involved in the internal quality assurance.
Structured meetings between stakeholders are held in various ways. Twice a year, a meeting with the student representatives takes place regarding organisational matters at a local level, and twice a year, a meeting with the education committee takes place regarding the content-related matters of the study course. Assessment results and the Annual Report of the study course are also discussed during these meetings. Often during these meetings, students clearly indicate what they think should change if assessment results are lower than expected. Students indicate that their voice is heard, not just formally through the student representatives, but also informally, such as being able to approach the location manager during office hours. The education committee effectively operates as a bridge between students and the management team. According to the students, the university responds properly to issues that are brought up.
Other internal committees that are involved in quality assurance are the board of examiners, the Advisory Board of Lecturers (which looks after the interests of lecturers with regard to personnel-related matters in teaching), department consultation (consultation with lecturers that are part of a cluster of related courses) and the focus teams (per location consisting of the location manager and several lecturers).
Lecturers have indicated that they are frequently invited to give advice. They feel that this is dealt with adequately. Some examples of improvement measures that have been taken after indications from lecturers are more attention for methodology during the final thesis phase and encouraging students to use libraries. The latter has led to the establishment of small media libraries in all locations. Furthermore, the use of literature is stimulated more during assignments and the final thesis phase.
Lecturers are pleased with the short lines of communication between the personnel and the management team. The lecturers explicitly mentioned the intensive involvement of the managing director, who, among other things, seems to be very open to recommendations. Lecturers can discuss issues regarding the daily routine with the location manager.
In addition to internal meetings, Tio also has consultations with various external committees. Twice a year, there is a meeting with the Business Advisory Council regarding the structural realisation of an optimal coordination of education within Tio in regard to subsequent industry practice.
Once a year, the external legitimisation work group assesses examinations and assignments for correctness of content, topicality and depth. The work group consists of sector representatives. These may be former students of one of the Tio study courses. The representatives of the Board of Examiners have indicated that the results of the external legitimisation work group are a topic of discussion during their own meetings. The Supervisory Board is an advisory body that acts as a sounding board for the management. The Supervisory Board meets twice a year.
Account management consists of study coaches, who in the capacity of their role as work placement coordinators maintain contact with personnel departments of large companies and annually visit their accounts. Contact with the sector is also maintained by means of meetings during events in the sector, workshops, trade fairs and the Tio Business Exhibition Day. In addition, the work placement company survey is carried out annually among all work placement companies, who had students working in their company that year.
Finally, graduates of Tio are united in the alumni society Tio Alumni. Tio Alumni is dedicated to maintaining contact between alumni and Tio and to maintaining, strengthening and expanding the contact among alumni students. This is done by means of a special LinkedIn page and a website, but also by organising events.
Input from all these consultations are presented to the management team and the Quality Forum and lead, where necessary, to improvement plans.
The committee has assessed this standard as satisfactory. Tio adequately involves all parties in quality assurance. According to the Assessment panel this could be even further improved if assessment becomes less segmented and the variuous committees communicate with each other. An example of this is adding lecturers to the meetings of the Business Advisory Council.
The establishment of the external legitimisation work group is viewed as a good initiative, in which Tio has added something to the quality assurance system and which clearly has an added value. It offers extra possibilities to frequently and systematically be in contact with the sector and it contributes to the quality of the examination and the education. Consequently, the Assessment panel appreciates this initiative. Despite the fact that only a limited number of the current work group members is alumnus of one of the Tio study courses, the Assessment panel thinks that it would be better if Tio decreases the number of former students in this work group. This will avoid any claims of subjectivity.