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Agency's position within the national higher education system

Description of the agency

HSV`s primary responsibilities for quality assurance in HEIs relate to the recognition of new programmes and the periodic evaluation of recognised programmes. Both these activities are the responsibility of the Department of Quality Assurance within HSV. HSV is undergoing a change in methodology and also in organisation at the moment. HSV is a government agency under the Ministry of Education and Research. HSV is responsible for all higher education offered by public universities, university colleges and by independent course providers, i.e. the private sector, if they have degree awarding power.

The history of the agency

HSV is working since 1995 and was subject of an external review of its evaluation activities in 2005 under the auspices of NOKUT. HSVs membership in ENQA was reconfirmed after this report. Since 2005 HSV have undergone several changes. Most important was the new law in 2010. The Government instructed the Agency to develop a new model for the assessment of first and second cycle courses programmes, focussing on student attainment of the learning outcomes.

Other quality assurance agencies authorised to operate in the country

The new legal situation will divide the Quality Assurance system in Sweden into two Agencies, one for developing quality and one for controlling, “ranking” and the amount of financial support by the government. At the moment there is only HSV working on a legal basis in Sweden.

Legal framework

Public universities in Sweden are agencies in their own right and directly accountable to the government. They are subject to the Higher Education Ordinance, which is laid down by the Government and linked to the provisions of the Higher Education Act. HSV is also based as an agency on the same legal fundament. HSV is also directly accountable to the Government. Its role is re-defined in the Act passed in November 2011.


The Education Act the Ordinances and the Government decisions all make clear that the decisions of HSV are independent of the HEIs. The decisions are to be taken by the HSV on behalf of the Government. Having precisely specified the system that was to operate, when it was to begin and when all the final reports were to be delivered, the Ministry gave freedom to the Agency to devise a practical implementation plan. In recruiting staff and in decision making HSV is independent. All decisions are made at the end by the University Chancellor, a political position. He can overrule any particular decision made by Agency’s departments, by panels etc.


HSV is funded by the Government in a sufficient way. At the moment the Agency has 100 persons working, 32 of them within the Department for Quality Assurance. At the moment HSV has a budget of 187 Mill SEK (about 18 Million Euro), of which 51 Mill. Goes to the Department of Quality Assurance.

Quality assurance procedures

Main procedures


  • Target institutions:
    • All higher education institutions
      • Target programmes:
        • All higher education programmes

Quality assurance procedures
The first step in the accreditation procedure is the self evaluation. The institution (the programme) is responsible for carrying out a self-evaluation of the programme(s) concerned. This process is concluded with a self-evaluation report. The self-evaluation report contains a description and evaluation of the programme.
The programme's different specialisations and/or locations, if present, are described and evaluated separately. In addition, the self-evaluation report indicates and substantiates the level and orientation of the programme.
The second step in the accreditation procedure is the external assessment by a panel of experts. This is done in Sweden by assessing the outcome in looking primarily at the independent student projects. The expert panel is reading the total figure or, in larger programs, a sufficient sample of the projects on all levels. The external assessment focuses on learning outcomes. There is no need for “real” site visits”, also in some cases it is still done. But there are Alumni questionnaires.
The panel secretary writes the assessment report.
The third step in the accreditation framework is accreditation itself.

Consequences of quality assurance and accreditation decisions

The Agencys decision in ranking the study programs on 3 levels: Those that are given the overall assessment of “Very High Quality” or “High Quality” are considered to have contained the quality standards for higher education. A differentiation between these two categories will be done in the future in the amount of public funding. Those that fail to attain the required standard are given the evaluation “Inadequate Quality”, in which case the Agency extends the higher education institution´s entitlement to award the relevant qualification conditionally. These programmes will be reviewed within the following year before the Agency decides whether or not the entitlement should be revoked completely.

Validity of the decision(s)

Government determined the four-year cycle.

Publication policy

In the new system it is intended that all the reports should be published on the Agency´s website. This has not started yet. (Legal) appeal system Within the legal frame in Sweden there is no possibility to have an appeals procedure, because the universities and the agency are on the same level as public entities. ENQA had problems with this point in the 2005 – report, and the problem still exists.

Figures on Quality Assurance / Accreditation Procedures

From 2001 till 2007 1.700 procedures were conducted within 76 subject areas.

International activities

Member of international quality assurance networks / organisations

Have there been any relevant external reviews of your agency?

Yes, in 2005.

Listed on the European Quality Assurance register?


Accreditation procedures in other jurisdictions

HSV only operates in Sweden

Recognition of foreign qualifications

There is a Department of Qualifications recognition within HSV