Over the past few years, Howest has built a strong quality culture. Our shared values Serve – Empower – Care contribute to the improvement of daily practice and the image of our university of applied sciences and arts.
In addition, a quality culture implies a mutual responsibility, whereby we share experiences with one another, are open to a development-oriented dialogue and feel ourselves owner of the organization.
Our quality care system also contributes to the creation of a quality culture. Each staff member is co-owner of quality and quality care. We reflect with all our stakeholders on the quality of study programmes and take appropriate actions to further develop the study programmes.
At Howest, we currently work with a six-year quality cycle. Eight quality criteria are the touchstone for all quality care initiatives. The quality criteria include both the European standards for qualitative higher education and the elements which are important for the realization of the vision of Howest.
Quality care is embedded in the daily functioning of the study programme. The team collects feedback with all stakeholders about all quality criteria. This both formally and informally.
After three years, we carry out an internal quality test, the Howest Study Programme Test (Howest Opleidingstoets). An external panel reflects together with the study department and with the stakeholders about the quality criteria of the study programme. These are discussed in relation to one another and tested. On the basis of an appreciative approach, we come to a shared reflection.
At the end of the quality care cycle, after six years, a study programme audit is carried out by an external partner. This partner has the assignment to assess whether the study programme minimally meets the basic quality as described in our quality criteria or whether it exceeds it. The external auditor assesses on the basis of available documents and a conversation with all stakeholders; this assessment takes one and a half day.
Results of Howest Study Programme Tests and external study programme audits are submitted to the management committee and the boards of directors. They give appropriate effect to it. Adjustments in response to internal or external quality tests are effected according to a plan and are recorded in the annual quality care report. Improvement trajectories are recorded in the policy plan of the study department and are, in this way, structurally followed up by the university of applied sciences and arts.
The eight quality criteria and the quality care cycle are described in the following document:
The planning of the Howest direction can be found in the following overview:
The following study programmes went through an external study programme audit:
- Bachelor in Biomedical Laboratory Technology (May 2016)
- Bachelor in Multimedia and Communication Technology (MCT) (December 2016)
- Bachelor in Digital Design and Development (Devine) (October 2016)
- Bachelor in Applied Architecture (April 2017)
- Bachelor in Applied Psychology (March 2017)
- Bachelor in Company Management (December 2017)
- Bachelor in Applied Informatics (December 2017)
- Bachelor in Occupational Therapy (May 2018)
- Bachelor in Social Work (April 2018)
- Bachelor in Journalism (June 2019)
Institutional review 2017
The institutional review is a periodic assessment of the quality of the educational policy of an institution. An external commission carries out the review by order of the Nederlands-Vlaamse Accreditatieorganisatie (NVAO). The commission undertook a review of the vision and the policy, the policy implementation, the monitoring and improvement policy of the institution. On 11 September 2017, the NVAO published the reports of the institutional review.
Extract from the commission report:
“The commission has noticed during both visits that Howest is a real community, with a widespread feeling of collective responsibility. There is great willingness to get to work with sustainability.”
This allows Howest to be high-performing in its policy implementation.
“The commission has experienced a quality culture where the presence of formal processes and the availability of a toolbox in support thereof offer a solid basis to be able to give room to confidence, autonomy, accessible contact and an informal culture in which innovation gets a place.”
To the greater part, Howest pours that innovation from its contacts with the work field on the subject of which the commission says the following:
“The institution has a strong, intensive and mutual relationship with the work field. For the commission, the conversations confirm the image that the work field is represented in the capillaries of the institution. Within Howest, research gets a full-worthy place in the study programmes. There is a clear policy as to the creation of research groups and lines, with the primary intention to bring the knowledge acquired there into education. By means of an oriented stakeholders policy, the study programmes in addition monitor the situation to detect social developments, needs and expectations.”
The conclusions of the commission further encourage Howest to continue along the road and to choose, every day again, qualitative higher education.