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Quality management at Furtwangen University

As one of the leading universities in Germany, HFU is well-known for the high quality of its teaching. The practical and innovative academic Internal link opens in the same window:degrees and further education programmes we offer are of the highest quality, creating attractive study conditions for students and a supportive environment for teaching staff. In order to ensure the quality of study and teaching in the long term, and improve it further, HFU has implemented a wide-ranging quality management system which rests on four main pillars.

Pillar 1: Commitment to quality

All members of Furtwangen University are committed to the continuous pursuit of the highest quality in everything we undertake. Together with our students, HFU has defined a vision of quality in order to define our strategic thrust and goals. In accordance with the statutory requirements of university law, these goals form the first pillar of the quality management system (QMS) at HFU.

Our vision of quality

HFU continuously improves its long-standing reputation as an innovative university with outstanding quality of education.

We design our teaching and learning so that students can achieve the planned learning outcomes set for each subject and each degree programme. This includes the promotion of soft skills and methodology. Thus students are also equipped for further development in their professonal fields. Our graduates reflect favourably on HFU:

  • They support our regional economy and thus strengthen the region
  • They are well-recognised and in demand outside the region
  • They can work worldwide

All this is achieved in a welcoming teaching and learning environment which encourages open communication.

Strategic goals
  • Our teaching is workplace-oriented, of high quality and interwoven with application-oriented research.
  • Our degree programmes provide methodologies (soft skills) which are useful in the long term, enabling independent further qualification.
  • We have close relationships with regional industry/business.
  • We have a range of degree programmes which reflect current developments, meeting both the demand for study places and the expectations of graduates.
  • We have an international outlook and network and offer our students the opportunity to spend at least one study or internship semester abroad.
  • We create educational opportunities for lifelong learning.
  • We encourage our high-performance students to become academics.
  • Our staff is highly qualified and committed to continuous professional development.
  • We maintain our position as a leading educational institution through our size, strength of innovation and quality of education.
Strategic measures

Pillar 2: Establishment of structures

The second pillar of the Quality Management System at HFU, structural quality, is fundamental to all other areas of quality, as effective regulations and the necessary resources create security for those involved and in the results. At HFU we adopt the principle of subsidiarity: the lowest level at which each measure can be planned and implemented is responsible for quality. Linked to this is a "bottom up reporting" system and a "top down flow of information". This results in responsibility being taken and an agile system of quality control.

Partnership

What is special at HFU: together with two partner universities, we plan to set up a Quality Committee for each of the three universities.

The members of the committee will be external experts who will advise on the Quality Management System. The Quality Committee will be set up upon approval from the Accreditation Council.

QM Board

All university bodies are involved in this control system. Within the university, the Quality Management Board (QM Board) is of particular importance for the whole structure. This is a Internal link opens in the same window:Senate advisory committee which ensures that the HFU Quality Management System (QMS) functions according to the accreditation regulations of the StAkkrVO and further develops the QMS. The Quality Council of external experts, which will be set up from 2020, upon approval of the application by the Accreditation Council, will join the QM Board.

Pillar 3: Efficient process design

Process quality, the third pillar of the Quality Management System (QMS) at HFU, results from an exact but flexible definition of all HFU procedures. These are summarised in a process guide and many main- and sub-processes are modeled on the rules of modern process management. A special feature at Furtwangen university is the establishment of technical support systems which help in carrying out processes, e.g. External link opens in a new window:FINQUAS, the Furtwangen Information System for Quality Assurance.

Pillar 4: Implementation of results

Quality of results, the fourth pillar of the Quality Management System (QMS), represents the output of the whole system. High quality study and teaching results from a clear structure based on values and current university laws, which has efficient processes at all levels. At the same time, results from the evaluation of study and teaching affect the other QMS pillars – a process of continuous improvement.

Quantitative results monitoring
  • Teaching evaluation: Every course is regularly evaluated by students. Teachers, programme organisers and faculties use the results to improve the course and the study programme.
  • Service evaluation: In a regular survey, students can assess the quality of service of administration and central services. Administration and central services use this to introduce measures to improve service quality.
  • Graduate survey: What do our graduates think about their time spent studying with us? How easy was it to enter the workplace afterwards? Answers to these questions are given by past students in an annual survey. The results are extremely useful in ensuring that our programmes remain practical and workplace-oriented.
  • Bonus-/Malus system: All students have a personal points account. This helps students to track their progress in their studies and shows where they require support if necessary.
  • Staff review: members of staff regularly examine and evaluate their own working situation. This is an important management tool for the University which promotes cooperation and leadership within the University.
Qualitative results monitoring
  • Quality reports: The annual quality reports of each study programme are the central reporting instruments at HFU. They include all relevant statistics on the study programmes and a report from each Faculty on the development of the programmes. These are the basis for a university-wide quality report.
  • Quality reviews: Annual meetings between faculties and the university executive to review the current study programmes serve to further develop the study programmes offered and teaching. The quality reports from the faculties are taken into consideration in these reviews.
  • Study Commission: The Study Commission in all study programmes presents recommendations for the development of content and way it is taught, and are involved in the evaluation of teaching.
External evaluations

Furtwangen University wants to know: How do others see us? For this reason HFU participates in evaluations, rankings and certifications by third parties.

Below are some of the Furtwangen success stories:

  • HFU study programmes are regularly awarded top grades in rankings such as the CHE University Ranking.
  • HFU is one of the universities of applied sciences with the most academic publications in peer review journals in Baden-Württemberg.
  • HFU receives above-average third-party funding among all universities in Baden-Württemberg.
  • HFU professional training has been awarded the grade "Good" by the Stiftung Warentest magazine.
  • HFU was only the second university of its type nationwide to be awarded the sought-after seal of system accreditation. The basis for this is the highly developed quality assurance system in the area of study and teaching.
  • The ERASMUS seal of quality demonstrates the outstanding quality of support of foreign students at HFU.
  • As one of very few universities in the state, HFU has been recognised for its sustainability management by the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS).

Accreditation of study programmes

The quality of a study programme is confirmed through accreditation. Basically either the individual study programmes are accredited (programme accreditation), or the quality assurance system of the whole university (system accreditation). HFU decided upon the latter.

Certified study programmes

With its system accreditation the university proved to the Accreditation Council that it has a highly developed and effective quality management system. With this, the university can itself develop and certify study programmes which meet the European and national requirements of the the Standing Conference of the State Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs in Germany, the German Rectors' Conference and the Accreditation Council. The University is itself responsible for regularly checking and developing the study programmes. At HFU this is carried out by means of a complex peer review procedure with internal and external specialists with which all study programmes are regularly certified.

Pioneer

Furtwangen University was one of the first in Germany to take these steps. In 2020 it has gone one step further by planning to be one of the first universities again to introduce an alternative accreditation procedure with an Advisory Council model. The Quality Council on which only external members sit, advises the University on a continual basis on its QMS. This is the most advanced form of quality assurance system at European universities.

Alternative accreditation procedure

Furtwangen University is taking its accreditation system to the next level: HFU has applied for an alternative accreditation procedure together with the Hochschule der Medien Stuttgart (HdM) and Nuertingen-Geislingen University (HfWU). The key element is the establishment of a Quality Council at each of the participating universities. These Quality Councils will deliver external quality assurance and development impetus on a continual basis, working together to provide the highest possible quality of study programmes and teaching.

HFU System Accreditation Milestones

Quality (I25227-1)
  • HFU registered for the system accreditation process in 2010. A group made up of external professors with experience in university management, science managers, experts from industry and students, examined the quality management system on all 3 university campuses by randomly selecting areas of different study programmes to carry out evaluations.
  • The rigorous 3-year process culminated in the system accreditation seal of approval. The award ceremony took place on 17 May, 2013.
  • HFU was nationwide only the 2nd university of its kind to become system-accredited. Theresia Bauer, the Minister for Science, Research and The Arts said, " It is encouraging that with HFU, a university of applied sciences in Baden-Württemberg has now also successfully undergone the demanding process of a system accreditation."
  • In 2020 the University started a system accreditation by an alternative procedure. The key element of this model is a Quality Council of external specialists who will advise HFU on quality assurance matters on a regular basis. Together with two other partner universities in Baden-Württemberg, Furtwangen University is once more one of the first in Germany to take these innovative steps.

Download file:Overview of the accreditation of study programmes at HFU

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