Roles and responsibilities within the quality assurance system for teaching

The overall organisation of the teaching structures is described in the Statute and the regulations that define their roles and responsibilities (see the descriptions on the University portal for details of the general organisation of the University, the multi-campus locations and the various structures).

As defined in the University Statute and the University Teaching Regulation, the various boards and bodies of the Degree Programmes, Departments and Schools participate in the design, management and self-assessment of the Degree Programmes, together with the related Faculty-Student Joint Committees, Academic Bodies (Vice Rector, Academic Senate and Board of Governors) and the Evaluation Group.

In addition, pursuant to Min. Decree 47/2013 and subsequent amendments, the University has established a University Quality Committee tasked with guiding, supporting and supervising the Degree Programmes, Departments and Schools in their implementation of the Quality Assurance policies.

The most significant functions and responsibilities within the Teaching Quality Assurance processes are described below.

Rector, Vice Rectors and delegates

The Rector is the legal and institutional representative of the University and is the head of the organisation. He is responsible for pursuing the objectives of the University, applying quality criteria in compliance with the principles of effectiveness, efficiency, transparency and meritocracy. Working together with the other University Bodies, the Rector is responsible for making final decisions on teaching activities and their quality, as well as for guiding the policies of the University via the Strategic Plan and other detailed planning.

The Vice Rectors and delegates assist the Rector in the management of the University. As part of the Quality Assurance system, the Rector recommends to the Academic Senate the appointment of teachers to the University Quality Committee.

Vice Rector for teaching

The Vice Rector for teaching represents the Rector on teaching matters, as indicated in the relevant Rector's mandate. The Vice Rector is invited to attend plenary meetings of the Quality Committee and the meetings of the related working parties, having regard for his/her skills. The functions of the Vice Rector mainly address the teaching activities of the University, the evaluation of teaching quality, the assessment of proposed funding mechanisms, promotion of the internationalisation of teaching (together with the Vice Rector for international relations), and initiatives designed to link teaching activities and research (together with the Vice Rector for research).

Vice Rector for students

The functions of Vice Rector for students mainly address the policies on the right to higher education and student services, with particular reference to the assessment of merit and the evaluation of need. They also cover evaluation of the quality of initiatives regarding the right to higher education and services; promotion of the international mobility of students, together with the Vice Rector for international relations; and internships, types of advanced apprenticeship and work placement, together with the Vice Rector for teaching.

Academic Senate

The Academic Senate is the body that represents the University community. It coordinates and links with the structures comprising the University and assists the Rector with the guidance, promotion and coordination of scientific and teaching activities; it also collaborates with the Board of Governors in the areas of strategic guidance, financial planning over one-to-three years and the planning of personnel.

Working together with the other University Bodies, the Academic Senate is responsible for making final decisions on teaching activities and their quality, as well as for guiding the policies of the University via the Strategic Plan and other detailed planning.

It approves the teaching regulations, including those for Departments and Schools. The Academic Senate appoints teachers to the Quality Committee, on a recommendation from the Rector.

Board of Governors

The Board of Governors is responsible for strategic guidance and the financial and personnel planning of the University, implementing the planning guidelines established by the Academic Senate.

This Board seeks to enhance the efficiency and quality of the institutional activities of the University, implementing the established criteria for effectiveness, cost saving and the safeguarding of merit; it also monitors the financial sustainability of the activities of the University.

Acting on a recommendation from the Rector and having received the opinion of the Academic Senate on the matters for which it is responsible, the Board approves the triennial University planning document, the strategic guidelines, the one-to-three year financial plans and the personnel plan.

Working together with the other University Bodies, the Board of Governors is responsible for making final decisions on teaching activities and their quality, as well as for guiding the policies of the University via the Strategic Plan and other detailed planning.

The Board also approves proposals for the activation, closure and amendment of degree programmes and locations.

Student Council

The Student Council is the body that represents students at University level and comprises 33 elected members.

The Student Council expresses mandatory opinions on proposals regarding the following matters:

  • the triennial University planning document;
  • the University budget and financial statements;
  • the general University regulations, the University teaching regulations and the Student regulations;
  • the activation, closure or amendment of degree programmes and locations;
  • the annual plan of action regarding the right to Higher Education and student services;
  • student grants and fees;
  • all other proposals relating exclusively or primarily to the interests of students.

Director General

Based on the guidelines issued by the Board of Governors, the Director General is responsible for the overall management and organisation of the services, operational resources and technical and administrative staff of the University, as well as for performing the duties envisaged in the current regulations governing the management of the Public Administration and for achieving the established objectives.

Evaluation Group

Pursuant to art. 9 of the Statute, the Evaluation Group is the University body responsible for the evaluation of teaching, research and administrative activities. The Evaluation Group has the functions envisaged in the national regulations, as well as those specified in the Statute and the University regulations.

This body evaluates the overall effectiveness of operations in terms of the quality of education and research, including the effectiveness of the improvement actions taken. The Evaluation Group prepares guidelines and recommendations for improving the quality of education and research at the University, as well as an Annual Report on the progress made by the University in the area of Quality Assurance.

As envisaged by AVA system (system for the Self-assessment, Evaluation and initial and periodic Accreditation of Degree Programmes and University locations) and the related regulations, the Evaluation Group is responsible for evaluating:

  • the Quality Assurance policies adopted by the University, with particular reference to their consistency with the national and European guidelines and standards and their compatibility with the available resources;
  • the adequacy and effectiveness of the organisation of the University in terms of education and research, and the Quality Assurance of education and research;
  • the adequacy and effectiveness of the Quality Assurance system adopted by the Degree Programmes and the Departments.

In addition to providing suggestions and recommendations to the University and all parties involved in the Quality Assurance process, the Evaluation Group also expresses a binding opinion on whether or not the requirements are met for the initial accreditation of new Degree Programmes.

University Quality Committee

The University of Bologna has established a University Quality Committee (PQA) to perform the functions assigned by the current regulations on self-assessment, periodic evaluation and the accreditation of the Italian University system.

The University Quality Committee:

  • oversees activities and monitors quality assurance procedures at University level;
  • promotes the culture of quality and supports information and training initiatives in collaboration with the relevant administrative facilities;
  • proposes methods, tools and procedures to achieve quality assurance objectives, with particular reference to:
          - for teaching, the activities pertaining to the planning, monitoring and self-assessment processes of degree programmes;
          - for research and the third mission, the activities pertaining to the monitoring and self-assessment processes of departments;
  • supports the representatives of the degree programmes and teaching, research and third mission facilities in their relevant areas of activity;
  • ensures interaction with the Assessment Group, the Teaching Evaluation Observatory, the Third Mission Evaluation Observatory and the Research Evaluation Commission on matters pertaining to quality assurance;
  • reports to the University Bodies on the University quality assurance procedures and the results of the work undertaken.

Teaching Evaluation Observatory

The Teaching Evaluation Observatory was established at the University of Bologna with the primary task of creating and updating the guidelines, principles and methods used to evaluate the educational activities carried out by university professors and researchers.

The criteria adopted by the Observatory are driven by international evaluation standards and should be consistent with those adopted domestically by the Italian National Agency for Evaluation of the University and Research Systems (ANVUR) and, more specifically, with the set of indicators employed by the self-assessment, evaluation and accreditation system (AVA).

The operational implementation of the assessment criteria and methods is the subject of a specific report sent to university bodies.

Based on predefined criteria, the Observatory evaluates the quality, quantity, and results produced by Alma Mater professors and researchers, and, if compatible, could be extended to temporary or short-term personnel. For the evaluation activities, the Observatory uses specific indicators, including the opinion of students gathered through a survey provided by ANVUR and through other analyses.  Relevant bodies and departments may use the evaluation results implemented by the Observatory in order to define the criteria that inspire and train teachers and research staff on strategies for the development of innovative didactic methods.

The Observatory reports to the University Quality Committee and the Evaluation Board.

Departments

Departments are the organisational units of the University that carry out the scientific research, teaching and education functions, guaranteeing the resources necessary for the provision of a quality education via their Degree Programmes (teachers and technical and administrative staff, classrooms, laboratories, equipment etc.).

The Departments prepare three-year plans that identify specific objectives for teaching, student services, organisational matters and personnel.

The Departments:

  • approve a three-year teaching plan, coherently with the three-year Programme - University Strategic Plan. When they participate in one or more Schools, the part relevant to each School must be agreed with the School;
  • propose, in agreement with other Departments, the creation, activation, amendment and closure of first, second and third-cycle Degree Programmes and professional training activities;
  • decide on teaching duties of professors and researchers;
  • if they do not participate in a School, they approve an annual report on their activities, prepared by the Faculty-Student Joint Committee.

Schools

Schools are organizational structures for the coordination and connections among  Departmentsto support the coordination and rationalization of the teaching activities.express an opinion  to Departments, to the Board of Governors and to the Academic Senate concerning the creation, activation and closure of Degree Programmes, based on the resolutions received from the Departments concerned, after having evaluated the availability of the necessary resources;

  • make proposals e to the Departments concerned about the teaching plans and learning activities of the Degree Programmes run by the Departments with which they are linked, as well as the common support services;
  • approve an annual report on activities, prepared by the Faculty-Student Joint Committee.

Faculty-Student Joint Committee

The Faculty-Student Joint Committee  (established at Department or School level where present) , to the extent of its responsibilities, examines issues encountered with the learning path and the experience of students, and draws them to the attention of the University bodies, this Committee:

  • monitors, using specific parameters, the programme catalogue and the quality of education and student services;
  • expresses opinions on the creation, activation, amendment and deletion of activities from the programme catalogue;
  • makes proposals to the Department Board on education matters and on the allocation of financial resources in accordance with the University Statute;
  • prepares an annual report containing observations on the performance of the Degree Programmes and their review activities.

The Committee may make reference to sub-committees.

Degree Programmes

The programme catalogue comprises Degree Programmes within which the self-assessment and review activities are carried out.

With reference to the provisions of Min. Decree 47/2013 and subsequent amendments, the Degree Programme Director works with selected members of the Degree Programme Board to prepare Review Reports that are discussed and approved by that Board and presented to the Joint Committee.

The Degree Programme Board also:

  • formulates recommendations to the Departments about their teaching plans, as well as about system revisions and the teaching regulations;
  • formulates recommendations to the Departments about the organisation of teaching and the related support activities.

The Degree Programme Director provides the primary and most important level of supervision, being able to identify problems at source before they are found by monitoring the data and, therefore, ensuring timely action. The Director is also responsible for involving the teachers assigned to the Degree Programme, keeping them abreast of the University strategies and the decisions taken with regard to the Degree Programme.

With regard to supervision of the QA for each Degree Programme, which attachment II to the ANVUR document (SUA-CdS form) refers to as the “Degree Programme QA Management Committee”, the University Governing Bodies have proposed that this Committee (envisaged by Min. Decree 47/2013) should, at a minimum, comprise the Degree Programme Director, possibly supported by other members of the Degree Programme Board and with the presence of student representatives.

The Degree Programme QA Management Committee activates a constant and planned process of self-assessment, with a view to monitoring learning activities and checking the adequacy of the learning objectives proposed by the Degree Programme, the match between the objectives and results achieved, and the effectiveness of the way in which the Degree Programme is managed, in order to identify opportunities and concrete corrective actions and improvements, together with the timing, methods and responsibilities for their implementation, while monitoring the outcomes on a regular basis.

Organisation of processes

Based on the deadlines set by the Ministry and the proposals from the Quality Committee, the University bodies approve the guidelines and the annual calendar for the institutional, activation and self-assessment activities of the teaching programme.