Every one of the University of Klagenfurt’s activities, whether it be research, teaching or administration, is tied together by a common thread: quality. All of the University of Klagenfurt’s processes and procedures are underpinned by the drive for quality and constant improvement. The University of Klagenfurt’s quality management system has held official certification since July 2015.
The university‘s quality strategy is informed by the strategic aims of increasing the quality of research, teaching and continuing education at the university.
This has the following consequences for each area of the university’s activity:
In relation to research, the quality strategy serves to consolidate and reinforce the capacity of scholars at the University of Klagenfurt to compete and cooperate on an international level, and to adequately support and qualify researchers in the early stages of their careers.
In the area of education and academic programmes, the quality strategy aims to further increase the appeal of the University of Klagenfurt as a place of study for national and international students and to develop graduates who possess sound judgement based on science, an aptitude for critical thinking, and the readiness to take on responsibility. In addition to offering an attractive range of courses, other objectives include a high standard of quality in teaching, a teacher-student relationship based on the principle of dialogue, and a commitment to internationalisation in its many dimensions.
The quality strategy for personnel is orientated towards the systematic development of personnel and strategic personnel management. Strategic priorities for all areas include the development of individual skills and teams, encouraging staff to get involved in formulating their own personnel strategy and the advancement of women.
Research quality strategy
The quality strategy in research is guided by an understanding of research that situates it within the grand European tradition of the Enlightenment, regards it as dedicated to the classical scientific principles of knowledge acquisition, openness and exchange, and views it as closely tied to the respective national and international scientific communities (see mission statement).
The University of Klagenfurt applies the following strategic goal in the field of research:
“The research output achieved at the University of Klagenfurt shall be visible and recognised internationally. Specifically, this means that our researchers prevail in international competition (e.g. for ideas, attention, scientific positions, research funds) and that researchers in the early stages of their careers are supported and qualified accordingly. In this context, the international competitiveness in the respective scientific communities and the orientation towards high and highest performance standards are of particular importance.”
Four aspects are especially noteworthy in this regard:
- Researchers are at the forefront of the strategic goal: They are the people who (within the scope of the research and working conditions that the university can offer them) develop new ideas, cooperate and publish. Particular attention is paid to researchers in the early stages of their career.
- The visibility and competitiveness of achievements in research is considered from an explicit international perspective. A key component of the university’s internationalisation strategy is to further strengthen international publication and lecture activities, expand research collaborations and boost the mobility of academics.
- The University of Klagenfurt places particular emphasis on the respective scientific communities as a reference system for achievements in research.
- Cooperation and competition are not mutually exclusive, instead they are closely interconnected: Often, it is possible to achieve competitive research results more effectively by cooperating with other scientists; conversely, promising opportunities for cooperation arise primarily when the own research performance is competitive.
The strategic goal in research is split into three target dimensions including associated indicators. The figure provides an overview of target dimensions and indicators:
Teaching quality strategy
In the sphere of teaching, the University of Klagenfurt strives to honour its legal mandate of providing education through science (Article 3 item 2 of the Universities Act) to the best of its ability and thus also to discharge its responsibility to contribute “to the welfare of society” as well as “to helping a society in transition to master the challenges it faces in a humane and gender-equal fashion through science”. The university pursues the following goals with its efforts in the area of teaching:
Graduates of the University of Klagenfurt are expected to acquire profound scientific competences, an attitude characterised by critical thinking, a scientifically honed capacity for reflection and judgement as well as a strong sense of responsibility. The guiding principle of all our activities is the Humboldtian educational ideal of combining research and teaching.
The following aspects and fields of action are crucial for meeting the objectives:
- The focus is on students
The aim is to provide them with an education that meets the aforementioned requirements, to guide them in their quest for knowledge to the best possible extent, to foster their research skills and curiosity, to regard the process of teaching and learning as a shared process, and to cultivate and continuously refine a learning culture geared towards dialogue and openness.
- Attractive range of studies
The University of Klagenfurt is committed to continuing to increase its attractiveness as a place to study. This can only succeed if there is an appealing range of studies on offer. The guiding principle for designing the range of academic programmes is sustainability (interpreted literally). Above all else, this means the ability to deal with rapidly changing conditions, coping with uncertainty and prevailing in a labour market that is highly volatile. Building on a broad education in the (largely established) principles and methods, the range of programmes on offer will be continually adapted to current and future challenges. Research-led teaching is the essence of university teaching and is understood as a universal principle. The research strengths of the University of Klagenfurt will be reflected in the programmes and courses offered, and there will be a stronger focus on interdisciplinary programmes and a higher degree of (associated) permeability. In order to achieve this objective, the results of various surveys (student and graduate surveys, ATRACK, etc.) are rigorously and consistently taken into account in the process of (further) developing curricula. Performance indicators for the achievement of objectives are, in quantitative terms, the number of degree programmes that are being actively pursued, and in qualitative terms, the feedback provided by students, graduates and non-university (educational) institutions that (potentially) employ graduates or have a justified interest in the continued development of the educational offer.
- High teaching quality
The University of Klagenfurt makes every effort to steadily enhance the quality of its teaching. It has excellent supervision ratios in most degree programmes and is thus well equipped to meet high quality standards. High teaching quality can only be achieved through a bundle of measures: the promotion of a general mindset that sees the constant, high-quality further development of teaching as a matter of course and views intensive personal exchange as an opportunity; an appropriate range of didactic and methodological advanced training options; measures to raise the status of teaching; the ongoing cultivation of a feedback culture; and receptiveness to innovative formats of teaching and learning. High quality teaching also requires the involvement of students. They are expected to respond to the programmes and courses with curiosity and active interest, to see themselves as shapers of the programmes and to share responsibility for the further development of the quality of the teaching and study programmes. Last but not least, administrative processes should be designed to support the high quality standards. This bundle of measures must be regularly evaluated in terms of its appropriateness and impact, and also expanded. Performance indicators for the achievement of objectives are provided, amongst others, by student feedback on courses and the results of the “Assemblies on Teaching”.
Internationality is a defining characteristic of universities, and international dialogue and exchange constitute an indispensable framework for high-quality teaching. There are many dimensions to internationality in teaching. It “begins” with the alignment of the teaching and study programmes, which should in particular also prepare students for an international and intercultural labour market. In order to attract international students, the range of English-language programmes and courses must be continuously expanded, taking into account the specific requirements and objectives of the fields of study. Internationalisation experience is seen as particularly valuable. That is why mobility support measures will be extended further. Students who are planning a university-related period of study abroad will receive the best possible support. Students will be given a wide range of opportunities for international experience through the continuous, quality-assured expansion of the network of partner institutions. The university also promotes offers and measures that facilitate internationalisation experiences on campus. Another essential aspect of internationalisation in teaching is the promotion of cross-border exchanges of teaching and administrative staff. Performance indicators for the achievement of objectives include, among others, the number of mobility agreements and active cooperation relationships and the number of English-language programmes and courses.
Quality strategy for personnel management
“In the pursuit of their strategic goals, universities depend on qualified and committed employees who wholeheartedly stand behind their organisation. The University of Klagenfurt recognizes this and has therefore undertaken to recruit outstanding academic and research support staff, and to deploy and foster them in the best possible way.”
Development Plan 2022-2027, p. 25
In order to implement this strategic principle, our orientation is based on five goals:
- Taking a systematic approach to personnel planning…
… achieves a dynamic balance between rotation positions, tenure track positions and system-maintaining permanent positions in the academic field and ensures adequate administrative support as well as the delivery of teaching in line with the curricula. Regular planning meetings ensure the implementation of the parameters set by the development plan and performance agreements.
- Attracting and supporting promising young researchers and academics…
… safeguards the academic productivity of the university and, wherever possible, aims to retain highly qualified young researchers at the university. Competitive selection processes, a doctoral phase of high quality, bolstering staff mobility and the targeted use of tenure track positions according to the career model set out in Article 99, Paragraphs 5-6 of the Universities Act (UG), are components of this critically important strategic dimension for “compact” universities such as the University of Klagenfurt.
- Appointing the most highly-qualified professors to positions at the University of Klagenfurt…
… reinforces the academic quality of the University of Klagenfurt at a national and international level, which will in turn make it more attractive to students, researchers and academics. This aim is served in particular by meticulously designed appointment procedures as well as the creation of good working conditions by means of properly equipping the professorships and the assigned units, especially with junior staff positions. The appointment of professors and efficiency reviews relating to specific individual cases (e.g. the granting of a performance-based salary component or renegotiating a contract) are based on regular feedback between the rector and the relevant departments.
- Supporting skills development across all areas of the university…
… fulfils the essential prerequisites for meeting any and all current and future requirements in research and teaching, as well as in the academic support units. To this end, a broad, increasingly digitalised range of continuing education offers addressing all staff categories is made available and evaluated on a regular basis. Key competences are fostered through courses in both the academic field and in the field of science support. Certificates from areas such as “Gender and Diversity” or “Leadership” can be acquired to broaden the personal skills profile.
- Creating a staff culture that is able to meet the present and future challenges facing the university…
… is facilitated at the University of Klagenfurt by means of a series of suitable personnel management tools and measures such as staff appraisals, a basic training course for new staff in the administrative area or staff surveys. In addition to an in-house agreement on “Respectful Interaction”, there are also measures, programmes and offers in the areas of the advancement of women, gender and diversity, health promotion and reconciling work and family life. This is an expression of the integration of social objectives into the fundamental orientation of the university’s personnel culture.
Certification of the University of Klagenfurt’s quality management system
The University of Klagenfurt’s quality management system was certified by evalag, a quality assurance agency based in Baden-Württemberg, in July 2015. During this audit, all aspects of the university’s QM system were evaluated by an international, five-person panel of experts. The panel also gave recommendations on how the QM system could be improved.
The assessment: In the evalag QMS assessment report, the university scored the following across seven different evaluation areas/key parameters and according to a four-point scale comprising “very good”, “good”, “satisfactory” and “unsatisfactory” categories:
- Strategic aims: good
- Concept for quality management: good
- Quality feedback loop: good
- Information systems: good
- Management bodies and decision processes: very good
- Internal/external transparency and reporting: very good
- Quality culture: good
The expert panel summarised as follows: “The University of Klagenfurt’s management structures follow well-developed quality management processes and only a small number of additional committees have been set up. the University of Klagenfurt’s quality management largely depends upon “a communication culture of short distances” and a number of informal committees. The expert panel were particularly impressed by the university’s “tolerant, detailed, intelligently-designed processes for communication and co-operation” and “found clear evidence of quality awareness and of discussions relating to teaching and research quality. The fact that the university has been using a varied suite of instruments and processes for many years was just as impressive.”