Good outcome for Reykjavik University in institution-wide review


In a recent report for the Icelandic Quality Enhancement Framework, a team of international experts on quality education states that "the Team formed a view of a very distinctive, innovative University, with a mission that is clearly aligned to the needs of Iceland. The University has strong institution-level leadership and strategy, with objectives and financial allocations clearly aligned to its mission. The Team found evidence of a pervasive quality culture focused on excellence and relevance."

Sólin í Háskólanum í Reykjavík
The report covers learning from prior reviews, management of standards of degrees and awards, student learning experience, management of research, and management of enhancement. The primary conclusion is that the University operates in accordance with Standards and guidelines for quality assurance in the European Higher Education Area, ESG. The review committee also affirms confidence in the standard of degrees and awards and of quality of student learning experience.

In summary, the review team states: 

The Team found a University that truly stands out, in terms of its distinctive mission, pace and scale of development, outstanding physical environment, culture and ways of working.

The review was carried out by an independent team of senior international higher education experts together with a student from the higher education sector in Iceland. The team´s visit took place in May 2019. Reykjavik University (RU) submitted its Reflective Analysis for the review in February 2019. During the visit, the team met with undergraduate and graduate students, student leaders, and alumni, senior academics, department chairs, part-time teachers, key staff from upper management, heads of support services and offices, the University's president, executive board and board of directors.

Learning from prior reviews
The key goals for RU following the last review in 2012 were: increased student involvement in governance, revised organisation and operations rules, revised learning and assessment rules, and new IT systems. The Team found that very significant progress had been made since the last institution-wide review.

Managing standards
The report states that the University's origins, mission and strategy reflect the value of degrees, while the development of curricula that is clearly aligned to both short-, and longer-term needs of Icelandic industry, promoting both employability and job creation. Curricula are enriched by research and by involvement from business and industry. Academic standards are secured by systematic organisational rules and procedures that are effectively implemented by staff. These procedures involve a high degree of externality, including systematic use of professional and subject accreditations.

Overall, the Team judgement is of confidence in the standards of degrees and awards.

Student learning experience
In regards to student learning experience, the report states that University staff, both academic and in support services, demonstrate great commitment and enthusiasm for their students and that students also demonstrate great enthusiasm for their study programmes, the staff, and the University.

Overall, the Team judgement is of confidence in the quality of student learning experience.

According to the report, The University has a clear mission, strategies, and management processes to develop and manage research, including research degree programmes. Research activities include an extensive range of international collaborations. The University QA system for research is aligned to peer-reviewed, international benchmarks and rankings. The effectiveness of the University's management is confirmed by both the current level of performance in international rankings, and in the significant growth of research output.

Managing enhancement
The Team considers the University to have a clear, distinctive strategy in line with the country's needs. "It is a flexible and student-centred University which has recently reorganised its structure in a way that has been welcomed by staff, with implementation in-progress. The University benefits from an outward looking perspective that includes extensive international dimensions. Enhancement is built-in to the culture, strategy and working of the University, with evidence of a commitment to continuous improvement and making best use of resources."

Opportunities for improvement
The Team also points to several opportunities for improvement, suggesting that the opportunities created by the ongoing organizational changes and implementation of a new 2020+ strategy should be used to continue development of the University's Quality System. The report recommends prioritizing the new and improved Student Information System. The University is then encouraged to consider, given the small size of the country, the establishment of a country-wide resource to support applications for international research programmes.