Assuring the quality of study programmes and instruction is of key importance to HSW. This is accomplished both externally, through accreditation agencies, and internally by means of a comprehensive quality management system.
As a state-approved institution of higher learning, HSW is obliged to submit every new programme of studies for review of its content and quality and accreditation by agencies established specifically for that purpose. All programmes of study offered at HSW are accredited by the competent agency, Zentrale Evaluations- und Akkreditierungsagentur (ZEvA) Hannover. In addition, HSW must demonstrate that, as an institution of higher learning, it performs services in instruction and research in accordance with accepted scientific standards. This is done through the Council of Science and Humanities (Wissenschaftsrat), which successfully granted HSW its institutional accreditation for the first time in 2010, the year in which HSW was founded, and re-accredited it in 2015. Statements concerning the institutional accreditations can also be viewed on the website of the Council of Science and Humanities. In its 2016 accreditation report, ZEvA highlights HSW’s quality management in positive terms: “HSW’s system of quality assurance and further development has already been reviewed in multiple programme accreditation procedures and in the course of its institutional accreditation by the Council of Science and Humanities. As a result of the associated process of constant further development, it has achieved a high level of maturity and can be described as exemplary.”
Institutional accreditation: The Council of Science and Humanities
The Council of Science and Humanities (Wissenschaftsrat) is Germany’s most important advisory body in the field of knowledge policy. It advises the German federal government and the state governments on all issues relating to the substantive and structural development of science, research, and higher education. Since January 2001 the Council of Science and Humanities has been accrediting non-public universities as institutions. The accreditation process is a quality assurance process. An accreditation confirms that the institution of higher learning is able to perform services in instruction and research that conform to accepted scientific standards.
Programme accreditation: Zentrale Evaluations- und Akkreditierungsagentur
In 1998 the German Rectors’ Conference (HRK) and the Conference of Ministers of Education (KMK) resolved to introduce accreditation for new courses of study, in particular for new bachelor’s and master’s programmes. Agencies such as Zentrale Evaluations- und Akkreditierungsagentur Hannover (“Central Evaluation and Accreditation Agency of Hanover”) (ZEvA) carry out the accreditation process and award the accreditation board’s seal of quality. The purpose of programme accreditation is to establish and review minimum standards for course content by evaluating the submitted plans for bachelor's, master's, and advanced training programmes and to evaluate the training function and studiability of such programmes, particularly in light of the opportunities afforded by the job market. The objective of programme accreditation is to ensure the quality of bachelor's and master's programmes, create transparency in the differentiated course offerings of institutions of higher learning, and to ensure national and international recognition of the degrees.
As an organisation dedicated to learning, HSW has a high standard of quality that it implements through a process of continual improvement. All participants actively contribute: students, instructors, practice partners, and all of the university’s employees.
Of particular importance is the systematic collection of data through evaluations. These data are prepared, evaluated, and documented. They are the informational basis for interventions or modification measures undertaken to optimise instruction and studies. In addition, internal evaluation serves to create transparency concerning the quality of instruction, discipline-oriented feedback, and personal feedback for lecturers.
Moreover, quality management as practised by HSW puts a clear emphasis on the importance of maintaining a dialogue among all participants that not only communicates measures and results but also discusses quality targets to be aimed for.
More than 96 per cent of graduates of a cooperative study programme at HSW are employed or have the prospect of employment immediately after graduation. The remaining four per cent opt for further studies or a stay abroad.
Most of the cooperative study modules at HSW are rated at better than 2.5 on a scale of 1 to 6. Similar results have been obtained for the programme of studies in General Management designed for working professionals.
To increase transparency in regard to quality management at the Hochschule Weserbergland, evaluation reports are prepared that describe the university’s quality assurance system and present the evaluation results.