Quality Assurance System for Learning and Teaching at Reykjavik University


The role of Reykjavik University (hereinafter referred to as RU) is to create and disseminate knowledge to improve competitiveness and quality of life for individuals and society, guided by good ethics, sustainability and responsibility. The mission of RU is to be a strong teaching and research university with an emphasis on technology, business, and law. The University constantly strives to increase the quality of its education and research, improving its services and management, and strengthening its connections to industry and society. RU places great emphasis on ensuring that its operations are in accordance with recognised domestic and international criteria.

The strategies, policies, rules and organization of RU are all accessible on the University's website. Among those is the specification of the University's quality assurance system and how it is connected to the University's strategic objectives.


The current quality assurance system of RU has been in development for the last few years. Its purpose is to ensure the quality of all operations, including education, research, services, management and relations with industry, by serving both as a tool for decision-making and for measuring performance. The quality assurance system has built on feedback from institutional review, criteria specified by the Quality Board for Icelandic Higher Education and standards for international accreditations given to RU, such as AMBA, EPAS and EQAINE.(1)

The quality assurance system for learning and teaching at RU is based on the standards of the European Higher Education Area as presented in the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area, published in May 2015.(2) The standards are not only intended to be of guidance in internal and external quality assurance for higher education within the European Higher Education Area, as it has also been stipulated that quality assurance agencies in the European Higher Education Area shall systematically make use of the standards in assessing the quality of universities.(3)


By implementing a quality assurance system that fulfils the standards of the European Higher Education Area, RU will ensure that learning and teaching are comparable internationally. At the same time, the quality assurance system ensures that operations are in accordance with the Higher Education Act and regulations on quality assurance for teaching and research, as well as the Icelandic National Qualifications Framework. In this way, RU makes sure that learning and teaching is in accordance with international standards, enabling the University to aim for the same goals of high standards as other universities in the European Higher Education Area.

The implementation of a new quality assurance system for learning and teaching will serve to increase the transparency of operations. This will be accomplished by defining formal processes and means that ensure that the University operates in accordance with internal and external criteria, laws and regulations. The objective is to clearly define and connect the different tasks and roles of employees, units and Schools within the University. RU always aspires to provide learning and teaching which fulfil the most demanding international requirements. The quality assurance system is not only intended to define the work processes of the academic services, but also to increase the awareness of employees, students and other stakeholders concerning the importance of quality for the University's operations. It is thus meant to create a foundation for quality culture and quality awareness among employees and students.


It is important to define the responsibility of key parties for all processes in the quality assurance system of the University. The operating rules of the University state that the President is responsible for the quality of RU's operations and the execution of internal assessment. They furthermore state that the University Council shall monitor the internal quality control of the University, and that the President shall present to the Board and University Council the results of internal quality assessments, as well as the results of the external assessment when needed. This also applies to the RU Executive Committee, which shall discuss the results of internal quality assurance. The same can be said of the RU Curriculum Council and RU Research Council, which shall also contribute to ensuring the quality of operations and discuss all the results of internal and external quality assurance at the University. The annual report of the President on quality assurance at RU shall connect together the results for units and show the results of measurements in a way that is of use to the Board in strategy formulation and decision-making.(4)

(1) EPAS and AMBA are examples of international accreditations that are granted to university units, such as in the field of business administration - see EFMD.org

(2) http://www.enqa.eu/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/ESG_2015.pdf

(3) The quality assurance system of RU also reflects the Quality Enhancement Handbook for Icelandic Higher Education cf.  https://en.rannis.is/media/gaedarad/Final-for-publication-14-3-2017.pdf

(4) https://en.ru.is/the-university/Organisation-and-operating-rules/ - Article 2.3 “The President presents to the Board and University Council the results of internal quality assessments, as well as the results of the external assessment when needed. The President is responsible for the quality of RU's operations and the execution of internal assessment.” See also 2.4 regarding the operations of the RU Executive Committee.

Learning and teaching

Design and approval of programmes

Study programmes are at the core of every university's teaching mission. When organising new study programmes, it is ensured that the respective degree is defined in accordance with laws and regulations(1) and is in keeping with the strategy of the School and the University as a whole.

A special process exists for establishing new study programmes at RU and for approving major changes to existing programmes. The process document describes how a new study programme shall be prepared in accordance with the National Qualifications Framework,(2) including learning outcomes, in addition to ensuring that it is positioned at the correct level in the Icelandic National Qualifications Framework. New programmes shall be designed in such a way that a student can pursue part of the programme as an exchange student at another educational institution.

The following points shall serve as guiding principles in establishing new study programmes and in making major changes to existing programmes:

  • Ensure the participation of all stakeholders in forming the content of the degree, including students and industry representatives.
  • Define the expected student workload behind each degree using ECTS credits.
  • Ensure well-structured placement opportunities where appropriate.
  • Define three-part learning outcomes for each programme that state what abilities students shall possess after completing their studies.
  • Define all the courses of the study programme and ensure that three-part learning outcomes are in place for each course, as well as assessment, in addition to ensuring a good fit between learning outcomes and methods of teaching.(3)
  • Define assessment and ensure that it is in accordance with the three-part learning outcomes of the programme and its courses and that it is fit for purpose. The assessment shall reflect the emphases used in teaching individual courses.

The School Dean and Curriculum Council of the School are responsible for ensuring that the above-mentioned points are used as guiding principles when defining a study programme. Following this, the Curriculum Council of the University shall comment on the matter and later the RU Executive Committee shall consider the matter for finalisation and formal approval.

(1) The reference here is first and foremost to Act no. 63/2006 and Regulation no. 530/2011.

(2) Regulation no. 530/2011 -

(3) See Rules on Establishment of New Study Programmes (approved in a meeting of the RU Executive Committee on 16 April 2009).

Student admission, progression, recognition and certification

RU applies regulations covering all phases of the student “life-cycle”, that is, from enrolment to graduation. RU ensures that students are informed about these regulations, with the aim of ensuring normal and smooth student progression.(1) This is necessary so that students can be mobile within and across higher education systems.

It must be ensured that work processes are transparent and that information is made public and accessible to students at all stages of their academic career; this includes ensuring that at the beginning of their studies, students are provided with all necessary information concerning the University and the study arrangement.

In order to prevent dropout, special emphasis is placed on helping students who are in need of support. Solutions shall be defined which consist in supporting students in their efforts to complete their studies.[2] RU has work processes in place to oversee and monitor the academic progress of students for the purpose of reducing dropout and acquiring numerical data for public parties and the University itself.

RU sets rules on admission of students, defines the admission requirements of Schools and follows a process for the handling of applications.

RU also sets rules on recognition of studies pursued at other educational institutions and skills assessment in cooperation with quality assurance agencies in Iceland and the ENIC/NARIC office.(3)

RU furthermore provides students with all graduation documentation fulfilling international standards, including a Diploma Supplement, which shall contain information on three-part learning outcomes, period of study and workload behind the degree and its place in the Icelandic National Qualifications Framework and the Qualifications Framework of the European Higher Education Area.

(1) https://en.ru.is/rules/general-rules-on-study-and-assessment

(2) This refers to how students who have learning difficulties should have solutions available to them which are appropriate at each time. Work processes should be established for how to diagnose students, how information relating to this shall be treated, who shall have access to the information, what is the function of the Special Solutions Committee (etc.)

(3) http://www.enicnaric.is/

Student-centred learning, teaching and assessment

RU places an emphasis on student-centred learning. The organisation of learning, teaching and assessment is based on each student taking responsibility for his/her own learning and taking an active role in the learning process.(1) RU promotes individual-based learning by:

  • Ensuring that course organisation, teaching and assessment are in accordance with learning outcomes.
  • Emphasising and strengthening diversity in teaching methods and assessment.
  • Placing an emphasis on project-related learning, teaching and assessment.
  • Ensuring that assessment reflects the emphases used in teaching individual courses and that it includes careful feedback to students.
  • Encouraging mutual respect between students and teachers.
  • Encouraging a sense of autonomy in the learner, while ensuring adequate guidance and support from the teacher.
  • Evaluating and analysing teaching methods in a diverse manner.
  • Ensuring open and fair procedures for dealing with student complaints.
  • Keeping in mind the diversity of students and seeking as much as possible to fulfil the needs of students who require individual-based solutions, as well as enabling flexible learning paths.

RU furthermore sets the aims that assessment shall be carried out in an objective manner without compromising academic requirements(2):

  • That assessment procedures enable students to clearly demonstrate that they have achieved the learning outcomes set for the respective course.
  • That student feedback is based on the above-mentioned learning outcomes.
  • That, when applicable, external examiners are appointed and informed about University regulations.
  • That rules on study and assessment are clear, made public and accessible to everyone and that they include provisions on irregularities and how they shall be dealt with.
  • That clear procedures for student appeals are in place for students who do not accept assessment results.

Curriculum Councils in Schools shall participate in the development of teaching and act in an advisory role to the Dean as regards development of studies, including development of learning outcomes for courses and study programmes as appropriate. There can be one or more Curriculum Councils in a School. Annually, the course catalogue for each study programme is presented to the appropriate Curriculum Council for discussion and approval, with participation from students. The councils are also involved in the execution of internal assessment and follow-up on the basis of the results of internal and external assessment, also with participation from students.(3)

(1) Reykjavik University places an emphasis on students taking responsibility for their own learning and their academic progress.

(2) https://en.ru.is/rules/general-rules-on-study-and-assessment - approved by the RU Executive Committee on 11 June 2015.

(3) https://en.ru.is/the-university/Organisation-and-operating-rules Article 2.5.2, dated 14.7.2014

Learning resources and student support

RU places an emphasis on using modern and diverse methods of teaching and on providing students with support services that contribute to student-centred learning and academic progress.

This refers, for example, to all work facilities of students, including study facilities, classrooms, and library and information services. Also included here is providing services to international students and exchange students, students requiring special solutions, as well as providing students with the advice and assistance they need, in their daily work and in managing their academic career. RU places an emphasis on informing students about the services offered to them by the University.

Ongoing monitoring of and periodic review of programmes

RU actively monitors all of its study programmes. This consists in a review every three years of study programmes, individual courses, learning outcomes and descriptions.(1) The aim is to ensure that the needs of students and industry are met. The review process, which is intended to strengthen the quality of learning and teaching, is carried out in collaboration with primary stakeholders.

The above-mentioned review process is the responsibility of the School Dean and he/she can assign to the Curriculum Council of the School the task of carrying out the review. The process shall take into consideration development within the respective discipline and shall be carried out in consultation with stakeholders. All changes that this process may lead to are made public. In discussing and reviewing study programmes, the following points shall be focused on:

  • The content of the programme in light of the latest research in the given discipline
  • The changing needs of society and industry
  • The students' workload, actual time spent on learning,(2) dropout and graduation rate
  • The effectiveness of procedures for assessment of students
  • The student expectations, needs and satisfaction in relation to the programme
  • The learning environment and support services of the programme

(1) See Rules on Establishment of New Study Programmes (approved in a meeting of the RU Executive Committee on 16 April 2009).

(2) Actual time spent on learning refers to whether students' workload per hour is in accordance with the number of credits that the programme comprises.

Teaching staff

RU has a Human Resource Strategy where the aim is to ensure the qualifications of teachers and other University staff. The Human Resource Strategy consists in transparent processes for recruitment, promotion and employees' opportunities for professional development.

The teacher's role is essential in creating a high-quality student experience as regards learning and teaching. Increased emphasis on student-centred learning and competency-based study options has led to great changes and increased demands on the role of the teacher.(1)

To ensure diverse and modern teaching methods and to contribute to professional development and continuing education for teachers, RU works on developing an assessment of the quality of learning and teaching, for example, on the basis of the following points:

Presentation of courses in the learning management system, dissemination of information to students, communication between students and teachers outside the classroom, teaching methods, assessment, and organisation of courses.

  • Self-evaluation of teachers.
  • Students' evaluation of the quality of courses.
  • Specialist evaluation.
  • Peer evaluation of the academic content of courses.

RU ensures that a teaching consultant is always on hand to assist teachers and that all new teachers are informed about the Teaching Strategy of the University and receive guidance and instructions that help them in their work.

RU provides teachers with a Teaching Quality Handbook and ensures that it is periodically reviewed.

RU ensures the participation of students and other stakeholders in evaluation of teaching, processing of the evaluation and improvements, as well as ensuring that results are presented to students.

(1) Competency-based study offerings consist in basing the organisation of degrees and individual courses on the competences that students should possess upon graduation.

Information management

RU shall ensure the reliability of data on the management of the University and make use of the data to improve its operations. RU collects and analyses information from the student administration system and learning management system; the information is of use in implementing the Quality Strategy of the University and in supporting its strategy formulation. Among the information that RU collects and analyses is the following:

  • Public key information, cf. Regulation on Quality Assurance of Teaching and Research No. 321/2009.
  • Student data to fulfil international obligations, such as OECD.(1)
  • Profile of the student population.
  • Information on progression, dropout, retention of students.
  • Students' and graduates' satisfaction with the quality of programmes.
  • Information on the utilisation of housing, human resources and support services.
  • Employment prospects and how students fare after completing their studies.

(20) „The University submits to Statistics Iceland itemised information from student registration and other registers for economic statistics, and Statistics Iceland and the Ministry shall be provided with information which UNESCO, OECD, EUROSTAT, and other comparable parties require. The same applies to reporting to the Icelandic Centre for Research on scientific research, technological development, and innovation, as well as to the Icelandic Student Loan Fund in relation to student loans.“ - http://www.ru.is/media/almennt/Thjonustusamningur-vid-Haskolann-i-Reykjavik-2012-2016.pdf

Public information

RU disseminates information on the operations of the University to society, industry, students and other stakeholders of the University. Prospective students, industry, media and society as a whole shall have access to all information relating to teaching and learning at RU. This refers to information on academic employees and other staff members, student progression, dropout, retention,(1) graduation and graduate employment information. RU also provides detailed information on study programmes, such as the intended learning outcomes of these programmes, the qualifications they award, and the teaching, learning and assessment procedures used. Information is presented in an accessible manner for those concerned.

(1) „Retention refers to the proportion of first-year students who return for second-year studies after completing their summer vacation.“

Cyclical external quality assurance

Internal quality assurance

School Deans are responsible for the operation of the quality assurance system in their School and for all work processes being followed.(1) This consists in organised internal assessments of the quality of learning and teaching, as well as responsibility for ensuring that the respective School and its staff members follow work processes conscientiously in their daily work.

Processing of results, from a diverse evaluation of the quality of learning and teaching carried out centrally by RU Teaching Affairs and Registry, is presented in a report to the respective School Dean and the President. The Dean shall ensure that improvements are made within the School as appropriate.

The operating rules of RU state that the Curriculum Council of each School shall be involved in the implementation of the quality assurance system and follow-up of assessments, and special mention is made of the participation of students in this process. Also, the Curriculum Council of each School shall ensure the participation of students in the organisation of learning and teaching and regular meetings shall be held with students concerning those matters.(2)

Executive Directors and Directors at RU shall furthermore ensure that the operations, which they are responsible for, are in accordance with the quality assurance system described here and that the supporting functions of the University contribute to strengthening the quality of learning and teaching at RU. Supporting functions shall assist individual Schools in their efforts to strengthen the quality of learning and teaching.

The RU Curriculum Council shall be strategic in internal quality control and involved in quality assurance carried out at the University.

(1) https://en.ru.is/the-university/Organisation-and-operating-rules - Article 2.5.1

(2) https://en.ru.is/the-university/Organisation-and-operating-rules/ - Article 2.5 – „The Schools Councils are also involved in the execution of internal assessment and follow-up on the basis of the results of internal and external assessment, also with participation from students.“

External quality assurance

RU periodically undergoes a quality assurance carried out by independent external regulators. RU supports the operations of the Quality Board for Icelandic Higher Education and the operations of the advisory committee for the Quality Board for Icelandic Higher Education, and actively participates in periodic quality assurance that the Quality Board organises under the auspices of the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture.

It is the responsibility of RU to carry out internal quality assurance that can be of use to external appraisal agents in analysing the quality of learning and teaching, as well as to make use of the results of external assessment to strengthen the quality of the University's operations. RU ensures the participation of students, industry representatives and graduates in external assessments. RU reviews comments from external appraisal agents and takes them into consideration when preparing for the next assessment.

RU also seeks, as appropriate, to undergo an external quality assurance by international institutions that grant accreditations for the quality of specific operations, such as EPAS and AMBA.

RU Teaching Affairs and Registry and RU Research Services provide advice and assistance to Schools in preparing for external quality assurance.

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