During the March rebranding project presentations, the Corvinus quality improvement process and international accreditation activities were discussed separately. But probably few people realise how closely these two areas are linked, with many connections and interactions. This is why International Relations and Accreditation has taken the initiative to provide a deeper insight into their tasks through an online forum. Selecting from the presentations of the online event on 24 March and our previous coverage, we will be covering the topic in separate articles in the coming weeks.
The culture of quality in the organisation
The quality culture is a culture of striving for excellence, an organisational environment in which quality improvement steps do not take place in a vacuum, but ideally become a corridor topic between colleagues, said Gergely Tamási, head of quality development at Corvinus, in an earlier conversation.
What exactly does this mean in the context of international accreditations? “When obtaining accreditation is no longer just about whether the university will have another title, we are deeply and sincerely interested in where we stand in the world, whether we meet the given international standards and how we can encourage ourselves to further develop,” concluded the expert.
Quality improvement is a cyclical process
Quality improvement is a continuous process in which the organisation continuously monitors and measures itself against defined expectations, measurement and performance indicators, and then, reflecting on the results, the relevant actors initiate and implement improvement changes. The progress achieved, the increased performance in the next cycle, creates higher expectations within the organisation; again, the fulfilment of higher expectations needs to be monitored and measured, and the results put back into practice. Quality improvement consists of such cycles – Gergely Tamási described the process.
International accreditation work is a similar, cyclical process, with an impact and significance that goes well beyond the mere acquisition of an accreditation title. Accreditation is not merely a goal, but rather a means to help the institution in its continuous development, and in the case of Corvinus, to achieve its strategic goal of becoming the leading university in the region in the field of economics and social sciences within a few years.
Quality improvement in education – a renewed education portfolio
Dr Vice Rector of Education Lajos Szabó presented the steps of quality development from the perspective of competence-based professional development and the importance of international accreditations as the first speaker of the forum held in mid-March.
The Vice Rector first spoke about the vision and mission of Corvinus, as set out in its educational strategy to educate intellectuals who can find solutions to social, organisational and economic problems, future thinkers who have international experience and who can put the knowledge they have gained at Corvinus to good use, either at home or abroad.
They would like to implement the close symbiosis of competitiveness, quality and talent management systems in educational development, and create value for students and the organisations and companies employing our students along these principles.
According to Lajos Szabó, the restructuring of the University’s educational portfolio serves this purpose. The basic logic of the renewed training portfolio is that the undergraduate courses, which offer fewer but more comprehensive bachelor programmes, provide a broad outlook and adequate basic knowledge, while the specialisations prepare students for master’s programmes. A master’s degree should be a place of real immersion, where specialised knowledge is already on offer, preparing students directly for the labour market. The third training portfolio is the group of executive and academic specialisation courses, which provides training for people with practical experience, added the Vice Rector.
Competence-based professional development in steps
The first step in the transformation of the education portfolio, led by three deans, was to define the competences (skills, abilities, attitudes) that graduate students should have. Here they looked at the competency expectations of key stakeholders.
Who are they? On the one hand, the organisations, companies and businesses that will employ the students later, and on the other hand, the graduates, who can give very important feedback on their personal career paths and experiences at Corvinus. Together with them, current students and experienced teachers can determine what competences graduate students should have.
The degree programme development teams, led by the degree programme leaders and with the help of experts from the TDLC (Teacher Training and Digital Learning Centre), have identified the subject groups or subjects based on these competences, which will eventually define the curricula of the new or renewed degree programmes.
The process of professional development does not end with the preparation of the new degree programme development, said Lajos Szabó. In the second phase, course plans are created, in which the activities that the students have to perform in the course week by week for the previously defined output competences are described, and which (sub)competences are developed.
Another important element of quality improvement is the measurement of students’ output competences: in the Corvinus project based on the AOL (Assurance of Learning) system formulated by the AACSB accreditation body, not only the instructor measures the students’ competences. The TDLC experts are working on the development of an assessment tool that will enable us to measure students according to different competence groups and thus help students in their career orientation,” the Vice Rector explained. “And the aggregated results are fed back into degree programme development to see where there are gaps or needs for change – concluding the whole quality improvement cycle.”
Involvement of labour market actors, annual evaluations by programme leaders
In his briefing Lajos Szabó said that in the near future the system of the Degree Programme Development Committees will be renewed, where proposals will be formulated for further renewal of the content of the degree programmes and innovations in teaching methods, with the involvement of labour market actors, based on the results of the competence surveys.
Another new element in the renewal of the degree programmes is that at the end of each year, the programme leaders evaluate the work done in the degree programme with the support of the quality development manager. This took place for the first time last December. The Vice-Rector stressed that these are data-based analyses that enable the programme leaders to identify their development needs and proposals for the degree programme.
Programme leaders are now responsible for the whole quality improvement cycle, as they not only design courses but also monitor student progression pathways and graduate student outcomes, so they can provide feedback.
According to Lajos Szabó, this kind of operation and transparent system will be the guarantee for the success of the University’s international accreditations. Meeting the expected international standards will be able to support not only institutional but also programme-level accreditations in the life of Corvinus.