KU successfully completed its system accreditation

The Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt has successfully completed its system accreditation. The Accreditation Council has confirmed the effectiveness of the KU’s own quality assurance system for its Bachelor's and Master's degree programs - and has done so without any further requirements and with much praise for the processes and structures that ensure the quality of teaching at the KU.

Successful system accreditation means that the KU has the right to accredit its new degree programs itself. Any degree programs that have successfully passed through the University's own system and have been internally certified are considered accredited - they receive the Accreditation Council seal of approval. System accreditation is initially valid for eight years - until March 31, 2030 - before recertification is due. The KU is now one of currently 115 universities and institutes of higher education nationwide that have been accredited by the Accreditation Council.

Accreditations were established at universities as early as twenty years ago as part of the Bologna process. Legislators obliged universities to have their Bachelor's and Master's degree programs regularly reviewed by external accreditation agencies - with the help of lecturers and students from other universities. This was intended to ensure the quality of study programs and make degrees comparable. The so-called program accreditation (each study program goes through the certification process individually) was later supplemented by system accreditation. The focus here is on the internal quality assurance system of a university. If this is efficient, it can be assumed that all study programs established within the framework of this system meet the requirements of program accreditation. Nevertheless, the individual study programs continue to be evaluated (internally) on a regular basis, involving external evaluators as well as representatives of professional practice or graduates. Other quality assurance measures at the KU include course evaluations, surveys of students and alumni, and qualification programs for lecturers in higher education didactics.

Four years ago, the University Management decided to implement system accreditation, then under the responsibility of the Vice President for Studies and Teaching of the time, Prof. Dr. Markus Eham, who was instrumental in getting the project off the ground and later handed it over to his successor, Prof. Dr. Klaus Meier. However, a great number of people at the KU were involved: first and foremost, Department IV/1 Quality Management in Studies and Teaching of the University Administration with Stefan Mosandl (head of the System Accreditation project) and Dr. Michael Schieder, but also those responsible for studies and teaching, namely the deans of studies and the faculty managers, but also student representatives.

The accreditation agency AQAS has been by the side of the project the entire time. The development of the quality management system began in two workshops. All status groups involved in teaching and learning were involved: Lecturers, students, deans, deans of studies and administrative staff. Subsequently, work continued in four project groups, which developed separate focal points: for example, the mission statement for teaching and learning, data management, or the structure of the quality management system. This quality management system was legally anchored in the summer of 2019 through the adoption of the General Evaluation Regulations for Studies and Teaching. The required university committees also voted to adopt the mission statement for studies and teaching.

In its final report, the accreditation agency praised the measures for quality assurance and further development of teaching quality at the KU. The external experts had initially considered the mission statement on teaching and learning to be very ambitious, but the process had shown that it was "anything but an empty shell," according to the accreditation agency. The general commitment to the mission statement and, above all, the link between the quality assurance processes and the mission statement are convincing, according to the accreditation report. The report further emphasizes that the quality assurance system pays great attention to studyability. "The time window model developed by the Center for Teacher Education, which is also applied to other degree programs, deserves praise. The students surveyed confirmed that there is a reliable and predictable university routine."

The accreditation agency also welcomed the steps taken by the KU on the way to successful system accreditation. For example, AQAS emphasized the great willingness of all those involved to engage with each other, to discuss the suggestions of the expert group and to collaborate in a spirit of trust. The on-site visit also showed to great effect "that all relevant university groups really do feel well integrated". Both the students and the lecturers involved in the system accreditation project felt that they had received exemplary information and support.

"Outstanding quality in studying and teaching and the high level of satisfaction of our students with the range of courses and the general conditions are signature features of the KU," says President Prof. Dr. Gabriele Gien. However, President Gien says the University does not want to rest on its laurels, but will rather keep developing the quality of studying and teaching. In the past, this has also included creating internal structures and processes for quality assurance. "With that, it was obvious that we set out on the path to system accreditation." President Gien would like to thank everyone who worked on this multi-year endeavor. "This successful conclusion was only possible because so many of our members - faculty, students, administrative staff - got involved and put a lot of energy into it."