Quality Assurance for Lifelong Learning

Ghent University has a university-wide quality assurance system based on the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) methodology.

  • The quality assurance system for the Bachelor's, Master's, advanced Master’s programmes as well as academic bridging programmes and preparatory programmes can be found in the documents on Ghent University’s Quality Conduct 2.0 .
  • Lifelong learning initiatives like postgraduate programmes, short- or long-term programmes and microcredentials follow a different, lighter quality assurance procedure, also based on the four steps of the PDCA methodology.

Lifelong Learning Initiatives at Ghent University: Vision, Policy and Objectives (PLAN)

Vision for lifelong learning at Ghent University:

In this fast-changing society, it is obviously important for everyone to keep honing and expanding their skills. Graduation does not put a stop to learning - quite the opposite is true!

At Ghent University we are fully committed to the importance of lifelong learning and the role that our university should play in this, together with our partners and other organizations. As an academic provider, our mission is to transfer to society the latest innovations and developments in academic research.

We welcome returning alumni, professionals looking for new career opportunities, students working their way through university, transfer students, … - in short, all those who are interested in developing their skills for whatever reason. We welcome them and offer them state-of-the-art knowledge and skills.

To this end, our lifelong learning initiatives all draw on top-level research and the most reliable research-based insights within each discipline. They are rooted in existing faculty structures, which are in turn, fully embedded in the university and in academic research.

Strategic Policy Plan for lifelong learning

Building on Ghent University’s  vision for lifelong learning, a strategic policy plan has been developed and was presented to the Board of Governors to make lifelong learning  recognised as an integral part of the university’s educational programme.

Objectives

The strategic policy plan outlines 12 principles which form the specific operational objectives when running the PDCA cycle.

  1. There is a clear framework for the lifelong learning initiatives targeted at initiators as well as participants.
  2. Our policy on lifelong learning policy is monitored by a Committee for Lifelong learning.
  3. Lifelong learning is embedded in (inter)faculty institutes.
  4. Registration and administration of lifelong learning initiatives takes place via efficient online platforms.
  5. Participation in lifelong learning is clearly certified.
  6. A lifelong learning co-ordinator is appointed to implement the lifelong learning policy.
  7. Our lifelong learning offer is in line with the Blend@UGent vision.
  8. Our lifelong learning offer contains the possibility of stacking and combining separate initiatives based on participants’ personal needs and interests.
  9. Partners from the professional field are also closely involved in developing the lifelong learning initiatives.
  10. The organization of all lifelong learning initiatives is sustainably self-supporting on a university-wide level.
  11. Quality assurance of lifelong learning is part of the institution's quality assurance policy for education.
  12. The University of Antwerp, Ghent University, and the VUB work together on lifelong learning initiatives within Nova Academy.

Activities to Achieve the Objectives (DO)

Monitoring and evaluation (CHECK)

At Ghent University, we believe in a multiperspectivistic approach to reviewing and monitoring: lifelong learning initiatives are reviewed by lifelong learners, lecturers, and external stakeholders. We also use quantitative date. The emphasis here is on an integration of quantitative data and qualitative information gathered in focus group meetings or consultations. The result is a 360° feedback, which is the basis for developing improvement actions and for making policy adjustments.

Monitoring

  • Participants’ surveys
    • postgraduate programmes and microcredentials  are surveyed by means of the study programme feedback by students; 
    • Short- and long-running initiatives, lectures and study days: the Academies for Lifelong Learning survey every participant through the academy's data platform.
    • Focus group discussions 
  • Professional field survey:
    • This is a survey organized by the academy and can be part of a broader survey covering more than one specific initiative;

  • Quantitative indicators: Education-related data are processed in annual reports. These include the following:
    • Number of participants per initiative and per academy;
    • Evolutions of enrolment numbers;
    • Participants’ profile (age, prior education, ...);
    • Study progress;
    • Number of certificates and attestations issued

Evaluation

  • Academies for Lifelong Learning

The steering committees of the Academies for Lifelong Learning use survey results, initiator responses and quantitative indicators to review their offer and to determine to what extent objectives 7-12 are achieved.

  • Committee for Lifelong Learning

The Committee for Lifelong Learning is the central body for lifelong learning initiatives at Ghent University. It elaborates the principles of lifelong learning described in the strategic policy plan into specific policy actions and examines to what extent the objectives are achieved.

The Committee for Lifelong Learning monitors the quality assurance of all lifelong learning initiatives and the functioning of the academies through the reports of the steering committees.

Improvement Policy (ACT)

  • Academies for Lifelong Learning

The academies’ steering committees monitor the survey results, initiator responses and quantitative indicators, and formulate (content- and organization-related) improvement actions on an annual basis.

They also assess whether the academy’s initiatives are attuned sufficiently to the needs of the professional field, society and the learner’s expectations.   Subsequently, they can propose new initiatives in the near or further future. 

  • Committee for Lifelong Learning

The Committee for Lifelong Learning monitors the quality assurance of all lifelong learning initiatives and the functioning of the academies through the reports of the steering committees:

  1. Formulate recommendations to the academy for lifelong learning concerning the operation and organization of current or future initiatives;
  2. Decide on the further organization of short- or long-running initiatives, microcredentials and postgraduate programmes.

The Committee for Lifelong Learning draws up an action plan for lifelong learning at Ghent University annually. This plan is incorporated into the institutional education monitor and determines the activities of the next working year.

The Committee for Lifelong Learning annually reports to the Education Quality Board (EQB).