Better than TÜV: System Accreditation for Macromedia University

As part of the Bologna reforms, legislators in Germany have introduced an accreditation system for universities. This system ensures the comparability of Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programmes and assesses their quality. The key objective of the Bologna Process is to harmonise the European Higher Education system. 

Macromedia University is currently undergoing the system accreditation process. 

Prof. Dr. Dr. Castulus Kolo, President of Research and Teaching at Macromedia University, explains what this means in terms of our commitment to excellence.

Dean Kolo, is system accreditation important for students?

Prof. Kolo: Yes, system accreditation is very important for students. It represents a seal of quality and certifies that the accredited university meets the highest standards in teaching and research. A system-accredited university guarantees students that it plans, teaches and evaluates according to certified processes. 

How does it work exactly?

Prof. Kolo: System accreditation focuses on the university's own quality assurance system. Is the university able to implement defined quality objectives fully and reliably? Does it have the necessary committees and processes in place to subject study programmes to regular quality checks and, if necessary, to initiate improvements? Providing this quality assurance level is certified, a higher education institution may accredit its study programmes itself.

For us, this type of accreditation is very worthwhile. We don’t intend to keep repeating certified courses at our university locations. On the contrary, we want to develop and renew our courses and curriculum every semester. We want to take advantage of new technologies, cooperate with interesting new partners and provide students with new challenges. Thanks to system accreditation, this dynamic aspect of quality improvement comes into its own. This is entirely in our interest. 

Prof. Kolo: In addition to system accreditation, the higher education system also accredits programmes and the institution as a whole. Macromedia University has long had both forms of accreditation and has them renewed regularly.  Institutional accreditation is essential for private universities. This basically comes down to the question of “are they up to it”? Here, non-state universities must prove they conform to recognised university standards. Do teaching and research meet recognised scientific standards? Is freedom of teaching and research guaranteed? In addition, the financial status of the supporting organisation is also evaluated. In contrast to state-run universities, “private” universities do not have the taxpayer to help out if they do badly.   Programme accreditation says something about a degree programme’s didactic and the quality of its content. This needs to be evaluated on a regular basis and involves examining the entire course of study - everything from how study objectives relate to content, teaching and examination forms, both at the level of individual modules and the curriculum as a whole. It is about the scientific foundation of the teaching, the studyability, the personnel and material equipment and the employability of the graduates - an aspect that is particularly important applied science universities like ours.

Prof. Kolo: How a university's quality management system is specifically tested depends on the university's disciplinary objectives. As a university for applied research with a focus on media, management and creative professions, our objectives differ considerably from that of, say, a state university with a focus on medical research. Quality goals are formulated accordingly and provided with measurable test criteria. For example, if our mission statement talks about promoting students' employability, then the corresponding quality objective is “successful careers for students”. The corresponding test criterion could be the employment rate of our graduates one year after graduation. 

As part of the system accreditation process, we have already fulfilled most of the documentation and other information requirements. It is a very complex process involving a large number of different functionaries at Macromedia University. But at the same time, it also represents a positive process of reflection within the university. We are optimistic that this process will be successfully completed by spring 2019.

Prof. Kolo: System accreditation provides universities with a high degree of flexibility. As a system-accredited university, we will be able to react much more quickly to technological developments and the demands of the labour market than we are today. Recently, the workload on external agencies has often led to a programme accreditation backlog in Germany. System accreditation means we will be able to quickly establish even more relevant programmes for our students independent of external deadlines.

What advantages does system accreditation bring students?

Our students benefit from study programmes that are topical and relevant. They can always also rely on our intelligent and experienced team at the university to give their best and to provide them with an up-to-date, practical and methodically-tested range of courses. Not only will students benefit from certified planning, teaching and evaluation but also our cooperation partners who help shape our offers in terms of practical projects as well as strategic development. That’s what system accreditation promises our students. 

Prof. Dr. Dr. Castulus Kolo 

President, Research and Teaching
Macromedia University of Applied Sciences

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