The Quality Office manages the Quality Assurance System of EPFL in the fields of Education, Research and School Governance and improves it through internal and external reviews on a regular basis.
Its goal is to provide a continuous enhancement of quality aiming at a culture of excellence within the whole institution for the accomplishment of its missions.
Institutional and Program Accreditation
Since 2006, like the best technical universities in the world, EPFL opted for a dual recognition of its quality assurance both at the institutional and educational levels through regular quality audits and educational programs accreditation. The goal is to provide evidence for an international recognition of the quality of its governance, research, and educational programs, and to promote standards, within the EPFL community and its future students on campus, for a culture aiming at excellence.
The Quality Assurance in higher education in Switzerland has recently been re-defined in the new Federal Act on Funding and Coordination of the Swiss Higher Education Sector (HEdA). Switzerland is now endowed with an instrument designed to control access to its range of higher education (HE) institutions. All public or private HE institutions wishing to keep or obtain the right to use the reserved designations “universities” in Switzerland or to receive federal contributions must undergo Institutional Accreditation. Switzerland being a member of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), Quality Assurance in Swiss Universities is also integrating the European policy arising from the Bologna Process. Hence, the European Standards and Guidelines (ESGs) edited by the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education, the ENQA, constitute most of the underlying spirit for the organization of the Quality Management System in Swiss universities. In the new Federal Act and its related guidelines, quality standards have been, however, somehow adapted to the specificity of the Swiss HE Institutions and the federal context by our government. Moreover, concerning both Swiss Institutes of Technology in Lausanne and Zürich, QA is also expressly included in the services mandate of the Federal Board under the EPF domain, conferring to our QMS a global approach with the highest standards capable to guarantee a valuable support to the strategic positioning of our schools.
With respect to engineering degrees, the French Commission for Engineering Titles (Cti, F) was contracted since 2007 to evaluate on a regular basis all EPFL engineering programs according to their Quality Assurance and Professional Standards. The Cti has a long standing expertise in the accreditation of engineering degrees, and actively promotes the title and profession of engineer not only in France but also abroad. Having an engineering title authorized by the Cti facilitates the professional integration of our alumni who settle either abroad or in France, one of the preferred destination of emigration by our Alumni. The Cti standard, which is akin to that of the Baldrige National Quality Award in the US for excellence in education, covers the activity of the whole institution.
All EPFL masters with a professional engineering title have been conferred thereby a dual accreditation by AAQ and Cti, as well as the European label, EUR-ACE, which is validated, for most of their titles, until 2021. Moreover, EPFL engineering degrees are also officially accredited by the French State, and therefore are fully recognized on the French territory.
Being part of EUR-ACE follows the objectives of the Swiss Confederation in terms of giving prominence to its higher education programs within the EHEA. EPFL bachelors and masters in sciences and architecture have an AAQ accreditation that is also valid until 2021.
AUTHORIZATION OF EPFL DEGREES
Sciences de Base (FSB) Génie chimique et biotechnologie Ingénierie mathématique Physique (Ingénieur physicien) Sciences et Technologies de I’Ingénieur (FSTI) Génie électrique et électronique Génie mécanique Microtechnique Sciences et génie des matériaux Bioingénierie Environement Naturel, Architectural et Construit (FENAC) ArchitectureGénie civil Sciences et ingénierie de l’environnement Informatique & Systèmes de Communication (FIC) InformatiqueSystèmes de communication Sciences du Vivant (FSV) Sciences et technologies du vivant Bioingénierie Collège du Management (CDM) Management, technologie et entrepreneuriat Management, technologie et entrepreneuriat (AMBA) Ingénierie financière EPFL Middle East Énergie et durabilité Habilitation des Titres d’Ingénieur par l’Etat Français
Evaluation of Schools and Colleges
The EPFL has a Quality Assurance system with two facets, like all World Class Technology Universities:
- Dual accreditation of Bachelor and Master Educational Programmes as well as the EUR-ACE quality label for the majority of its engineering diplomas;
- An evaluation cycle for schools and colleges that forms an integral part of Quality Assurance in the EPF domain, with the EPF Board as the monitoring body.
The evaluation differs from the accreditation since it scrutinises all the services provided by the unit: teaching, research, transfer of knowledge and technologies, as well as innovation. It also assesses the leadership and management of the school, as well as its visions and strategies and their implementation. It thus adopts a retrospective perspective (accountability: are we doing the things right?) and a prospective perspective (are we doing the right things?); in this respect, it assists the leadership of the EPFL schools and colleges, as well as their management.
The evaluation is based on the peer review principle. High calibre international academic experts, senior scientists, who are renowned in their field of research, experienced in teaching, and are frequently Deans of Faculties or heads of departments, assess the school or the college. Their qualitative perception is at the heart of the evaluation, whereas the accreditation audit emphasizes compliance with a standard by a committee, which comprises a good number of qualiticans. The experts are also given maximum leeway in the evaluations and accreditations.
The composition of the audit committee for an evaluation varies from 8 to 12 experts, depending on the size of the unit; the evaluation takes from 3 to 4.5 days. At the EPFL, it usually begins with a meeting of the committee of experts on a Sunday evening to allocate the organisational tasks.
In the run-up to the visit by the experts, the School prepares a self-evaluation report which is submitted with a list of specific questions (terms of reference) at least 4 weeks before the audit.
Evaluations of EPFL schools and colleges are conducted every 6 years. An internal mid-term review, undertaken 3 years after the evaluation audit, takes stock of the implementation done of the recommendations by the experts and the related commitments decided by the School or the College.
The procedure and framework conditions for School and College evaluations at the EPFL are contained in the Guideline and Evaluation Procedure for EPFL Schools and Colleges. This document has been edited in association with the EPF in Zurich and subsequent to benchmarking of the practices adopted by the best technical universities in the World.