Internal Quality Management (IQM) at WVPU is rooted in a self-critical, cyclical system that is fully incorporated into its strategic management and ensures good scientific practice. IQM covers everything including curricular planning, teaching assignments, staff and faculty recruiting and the selection and delivery of student services. It warrants that vital information on the quality of teaching, learning and research is periodically (ranging from bi-monthly to triennially) and systematically collected, analyzed and acted upon thereby guaranteeing that the assessment criteria for sustained accreditation of the institution and its programs are met and regularly enhanced according to manageable timelines.
Our Statement on Quality Management, outlined below, provides a general reference point for the University’s quality management system. It outlines the University’s approach to quality management, including its key principles and links to individual policies and procedures, which establish more detail.
This document also supports transparency, providing the WVPU community and the public with information on how quality is assessed and ensured, also in compliance with PU-AkkVO (2019) §16.11.
See a model of WVPU's cyclical quality management system.
Webster Vienna Private University safeguards the quality of its programs through a system ensuring continuous improvement and accountability in accordance with the international principles of good practice expressed in the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area (ESG). In particular, WVPU acknowledges its responsibilities in accordance with PU-AkkVO (2019) §16.11.
The principles that underpin WVPU’s approach to quality assurance are:
- Develop and foster a culture of quality assurance in the day-to-day activities of faculty, scientific support and administrative staff, and students.
- Establish, record and implement consistent policies, procedures, criteria and standards for all University operations.
- Monitor continuously the quality and effective management of all operations by collecting and analyzing data and ensuring that effective feedback mechanisms are in place.
- Report periodically on quality assurance and implement follow-up measures to ensure a cycle of continuous improvement.
These principles guide the implementation of the University’s IQM system and further a culture of academic quality in all of its day-to-day activities and strategy development.
The Executive Board oversees the quality management system at WVPU. The Director bears final responsibility for implementing the quality management system and its performance in the day-to-day operations.
WVPU founds its quality management system on a cyclical system of long-term strategic planning and review, as well as tiered annual performance agreement and reviews, consisting of the following levels:
- Cyclical review of the development plan
- Annual performance agreements and reviews at the institutional level.
- Annual performance agreements and reviews at the departmental level.
- Annual performance agreements and reviews at the individual level.
WVPU ensures its Internal Quality Management (IQM) through a continuous improvement cycle that incorporates feedback from all the University’s stakeholders and consists of four steps or phases:
- Plan: The first is the planning phase, where direction is established, the details of objective-driven policies are developed, and activities based on available resources are planned. This includes strategic planning, the University’s system on annual performance agreements and the curricular planning process.
- Do: The second phase, implementation, includes, for instance, the University’s academic and student conduct policies and processes such as those underlying academic status decisions, theses defenses and approvals, or the issuing of official documents.
- Study: Examples of the study and analysis phase, the third step in the cycle, include the regularly scheduled review of relevant KPIs, processes, policies and intended program competences (learning outcomes), as well as biannual performance reviews with academic department heads and external reviews.
- Act: In step four, based on these studies, conclusions are drawn and discussed by the Executive Board together with the academic department heads, the University Senate, student government and the University Council whereby areas for improvement in the programs are identified, and corrective measures taken. Examples of this phase include annual updates to policies and revision of processes, updated objectives and milestones and the University’s annual reports.
Cyclical Review of the Development Plan
The University undergoes a comprehensive strategic review and planning process every six years according to the reaccreditation cycle. The process aims to review the goals and implementation of the previous development plan; collect stakeholder feedback in the strategic direction of WVPU; establish strategic goals and milestones for next six year period; and review major processes and procedures.
The director oversees the cyclical review of the development plan. Stakeholder engagement in the cyclical review is wide-ranging and ensured through roundtable meetings with all units and departments, personnel surveys, student focus groups, solicited feedback from adjunct faculty and meetings with the advisory board and alumni association.
The stakeholder input is consolidated and discussed in regular scheduled meetings with academic department and unit heads and the University Senate, and where fitting, with outside experts. The drafting of the development plan benefits from multiple rounds of editing and review by internal stakeholders, including the University Senate, Executive Board, department and unit heads, the extended leadership team, the University Council and the General Assembly. The final draft must be approved by the University Council and the General Assembly.
Annual Institutional Performance Agreement
The annual institutional performance agreement serves as a commitment of the supervisory bodies and the Executive Board to pursue a fixed set of targets and undertake specific activities with respective measures and goals throughout the fiscal year providing the basis for self-evaluation and proper oversight.
The Executive Board proposes and reaches an institutional Performance Agreement with the University Council, which is then submitted for final approval by the General Assembly. It is based on the performance agreements conducted at the departmental and unit levels, as well as on input collected via student focus groups. In addition, the University Senate and Works Council are represented in the quarterly University Council meetings and involved throughout the process, ensuring transparency and stakeholder representation in the formulation of the University’s annual goals and activities.
The annual institutional performance agreements are published on the University’s intranet and accessible to all employees at http://atlas.webster.ac.at/.
Annual Departmental, Unit and Faculty Performance Agreement
Annual performance agreements serve the functions of strategic planning, self-evaluation, and positioning of the individual departments, administrative units and faculty. Performance agreements with individual faculty serve as the basis for departmental performance agreements; and vice versa, department performance agreements feed into the individual agreements, particularly in areas of teaching and the implantation of program enhancements.
The General Provisions for Performance Agreements outlines the performance agreement process. Biannual performance reviews serve to assess progress and challenges in the implementation of the performance agreements.
New programs must go through a robust approval process including an internal assessment and external accreditation procedure by the Agency for Quality Assurance and Accreditation Austria.
Academic departments initiate and develop proposals for new programs in close cooperation with colleagues from its parent University. All University employees are required to abide with the WVPU Code of Conduct, which provides guidance and sets the baseline for the standards of ethical behavior of WVPU community members. WVPU also has a defined process for handling employee grievances, outlined in the WVPU Grievance Policy. After review and approval by the Executive Board, the University council reviews the proposal. Final consent rests with the General Assembly. Once approved internally, programs then undergo a formal accreditation process by AQ Austria.
Program development at WVPU is rooted in an assessment of changes in the labor market, new research trajectories, and international political and economic developments. All proposals include a rationale for the program, a description of how the new curriculum supports the University’s mission, how it fits within the respective department, a staffing plan, an impact assessment, a market study and review of comparable programs in Europe, and an analysis of future education and career options available for graduates of the program. The proposal also includes intended student competencies (learning outcomes) and qualification level developed per the knowledge, skills, and autonomy/responsibility standards of the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) and respective Austrian National Qualifications Framework Levels. The proposal outlines teaching and assessment methods for each intended competency and a five-year IQM plan for enhancing student competencies.
The quality management of the degree programs is ensured through regular processes that form a continuous improvement cycle. The Executive Board and the University Senate in close cooperation with the academic department heads are primarily responsible for the ongoing review and enhancement of the degree programs.
The cycle incorporates feedback from all of the University’s stakeholders guaranteeing that the study programs, didactics, academic planning, and policies undergo competency-based evaluation as part of regular, concurrent and connected bottom-up and top-down feedback mechanisms.
The combined inputs of students, scientific support staff, faculty and academic department heads, and where appropriate, the Advisory Board, are regularly consolidated, discussed, and where appropriate, implemented in program enhancement. Ensuring that all stakeholders are represented in the decisions, any proposed curricular changes are presented to the University Senate, as outlined in the Constitution and the University Senate bylaws and developed in close cooperation with the counterparts of the parent University. The figure below shows the cycle of collecting stakeholder input for program enhancement.
Evaluation and refinement of program profiles and learning outcomes are assessed cyclically as a regular feature of WVPU’s strategic planning process. The most recent comprehensive review of program learning outcomes occurred in April 2020 when they were evaluated for their compatibility with the knowledge, skills, and autonomy/responsibility standards of the Austrian National Qualifications Framework (NQF) and European Qualifications Framework (EQF) Levels VI and VII for Cycles 1 and 2, bachelor and master degree programs. The figure below shows the timeline for the major review processes contributing to program enhancement.
WVPU provides publicly accessible curricular plans extending at least two years into the future enabling students to better plan their studies. Regular planning sessions between the director, associate director and academic department head are used for curricular planning. Student feedback is incorporated into the process through face-to-face meetings, town halls and anonymous course evaluations. Each syllabus (including criteria and methods of assessment) is reviewed and approved by department heads at least one semester prior to being published on the University’s course offerings website. More information on preparing syllabi is available on the Faculty Guidance page.
To aid in course planning, study plans and regulations for each program as well as a course roadmap for students are available for students in the respective department Connections page.
The figure below shows an example of the two-year curricular planning timeline.
Figure 4: two-year curricular planning timeline
WVPU monitors faculty performance in the classroom through an online database of course reviews for every course and every instructor.
Students complete course evaluations online at the end of each course. Students appraise faculty performance, their own learning progress and workload, transparency of assessment criteria, the information contained, and adherence to the course syllabus as well as organizational conditions and behavior of fellow students (e.g., observed plagiarism attempts). Various average key indicators are calculated according to a standardized system.
The results of the evaluations are available to the respective faculty member following the end of the course via an internal online reporting system, which includes an explanation of the indexed figures and indicator values in the WVPU Student Course Evaluations Reporting Tool Codebook.
In addition to the regular course evaluation system, WVPU conducts an additional new instructor course evaluation. This evaluation takes place in the third week of the course and provides instructors with tangible and specific indicators as well as comments that they can use to change the content and/or form of teaching for the rest of the term or semester. Students complete the evaluation form in class, which is compiled and transcribed by the Academic Services Office. The results of the evaluation are then shared with the instructor and the respective academic department head.
External Teaching Assessments
Once every three years, WVPU conducts an external review of the teaching, selection mechanism and integration of adjunct faculty.
The study and examination guidelines of Webster Vienna Private University promote transparency and consistency in student assessment and codify students' rights to feedback. The guidelines are publicly available on WVPU’s website and provide a summary of the key examination guidelines applicable to all study programs and course types offered. The document covers the standards and norms used in the grading of courses, the assessment, scheduling and oversight of exams, including the appeals processes for students as well as a general description of the grading standards of Webster University and their Austrian equivalents.
A formal appeals procedure is in place, as outlined in section 3 of the study and examination guidelines. Students can appeal both course assessments and examination assessments to an Examination Committee consisting of the director or associate director, the head of the respective academic department, one additional department head and a student representative.
Defined admission regulations, which ensure a transparent admission process, are available in the General Requirements for Candidates Seeking Admission to Webster Vienna Private University’s Accredited Degree Programs. These describe the minimum requirements as well as the selection process and correspond with the provisions in the Universities Act. Respective study program descriptions and regulations outline further requirements that may apply, if any.
An Admissions Committee, led by the Head of Admissions, decides on the admission to a study program once an applicant has submitted a complete application. Representatives from the Office of the Director and the respective academic departments may join the committee. The committee may request an interview with the applicant together with a representative of the respective department.
WVPU tracks student progress to provide the necessary conditions for student success. Instructors complete a midterm progress report that identifies any students that are not adequately completing the course requirements. The respective faculty advisors receive the reports and guide the students to appropriate support measures.
The University employs a system of academic probation and dismissal to monitor and act on poor student performance, as outlined in WVPU’s Policy on Academic Probation and Dismissal. Students who fail to maintain minimum academic standards receive probation, which results in a lower cap on the number of courses they can take per semester and the requirement to seek additional support. Students on academic probation that fail to achieve a minimum grade point average in the following semester face dismissal from the University.
The University maintains detailed policies in the areas of academic honesty, grading, attendance, appeals, student conduct, thesis, course workloads and approval processes for overloads, internships and fieldwork, which are publicly available on WVPU’s Academic policies webpage.
WVPU reviews all of its academic policies annually. In order to conduct these reviews, the Executive Board organizes a series of separate meetings with academic department and administrative unit heads, Academic Services, and the student government, jointly proposing changes.
All students are required to abide with the WVPU Code of Conduct, which provides guidance and sets the baseline for the standards of ethical behavior of WVPU community members.
Workload and Credit Recognition
The University’s institutional practice for mutual recognition is in line with the Principles of the Lisbon Recognition Convention. Each of the University’s programs meets the standards of the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) and the respective Austrian National Qualifications Framework (NQF).
WVPU assigns European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) credits corresponding to the normative and empirical student workload of 25 hours of combined course attendance and self-learning per one ECTS, as outlined in the ECTS Calculation and assignment policy. Based on the expectations, intensity and level of student workloads outside the classroom, WVPU generally assigns between 2 and 6 ECTS (or 50 to 150 hours of average expected workload at the undergraduate level and, generally, 7.5 ECTS (or 187.5 hours of average expected workload) per semester course at the graduate level.
In evaluating possible transfer credits, the admissions team makes an initial assessment and discusses it with the responsible academic department heads to determine if any equivalencies apply (particularly to residency requirements). Specifically authorized University personnel in the Admissions and the Academic Services Offices are responsible for the entry of transfer credits.
Conferral of Degrees and Degree Rescission Policy
Students are eligible to receive their degrees once they have completed the requirements outlined in the requirements for the conferment of bachelor and master degrees from WVPU as well as the requirements stipulated in the respective degree program’s study plan and regulations. WVPU’s Academic Services office oversees a systematic process for determining degree eligibility, which includes a confirmation from both the student and Academic Department Head that student concerned has met all program requirements.
To preserve the integrity of its academic standards and degrees, WVPU reserves the right to rescind a conferred degree earned through academic misconduct or fraud, or the degree has been conferred erroneously due to administrative error. The Degree Revocation Policy outlines the procedure and circumstances whereby a previously granted WVPU may be rescinded.
Support services for student success and well-being are vital elements of the University’s IQM system and central to its mission to provide personalised education and mentorship. Regular feedback and evaluation are essential to ensure that the University’s services are fit-for-purpose, meeting students’ expectations, accessible and known. To this end, the University conducts an annual student services survey and tracks student engagement year-on-year. In addition, students recount their experiences with student services as part of the annual student focus groups. WVPU uses the collected data is in programmatic planning and as part of the performance agreements and reviews.
Faculty-led advising is WVPU’s front line support system, and an essential part of the University’s student-centered approach to education. Students are assigned a faculty advisor within their primary discipline of study, who advise them regarding their scholarly efforts, interests and progress. To ensure quality service, all faculty receive annual training on degree programs and advising. In addition, WVPU seeks anonymous feedback from on the quality of the advising.
Academic Support Services
Students can benefit from a variety of additional academic support services and advisors are encouraged to refer their advisees to these services as required. Students can obtain one-on-one assistance in academic writing via the Language Center, which also offers regular workshops. Assistance with quantitative and statistical analysis is available through the Quant Center. The Library provides further support whose staff provides subject specific research guides as well as access to numerous online databases.
Student Resource Center
The Student Resource Center (SRC) is an important source of information and community building. It serves a critical role in informing students of the wide variety of available services and events. All new students attend a mandatory student orientation organized by the SRC, ensuring that they are familiar with the University’s services, policies, clubs and community building opportunities. In addition, the SRC promotes, coordinates and assists incoming and outgoing students in mobility activities. The SRC also directs students to resources in matters such as housing, local culture and visa requirements.
Career and Counseling Services
WVPU provides its students with specialized access to counseling services. Coordinated through the Psychology department, the University’s Student Counseling Service offers individual as well as group counseling sessions covering a variety of topics. Career Services, overseen by Human Resources offers career counselling, support in applications and interviews, and hosts a platform (JobTeaser) to help students find jobs. In addition, it works closely with prospective employers to promote, monitor and evaluate student internships.
Performance Reviews and Research Tracking
The University’s system of individual and departmental performance agreements is used to plan and monitor research output. The faculty performance agreements contain plans for conference attendance, research travel, publications and grant proposals, teaching loads and advising services.
A biannual review serves to monitor the University’s progress in meeting its goals in research output, faculty well-being and faculty-led service to the community.
To enable real-time monitoring of research activities, the University maintains a database of faculty research activities (including grant proposals and abstracts). This internal database of activities allows faculty to personally add and update their progress and serves as the basis for annual research output reporting. The databases provide key performance indicators on research performance used for quality management.
Internal Grant Proposal Review
Faculty must submit their grant proposals for internal review to ensure the quality of WVPU research projects. The multi-step process requires approval from the respective academic department heads and the Research Support Services, the Heads of Finance and Administration and Human Resources, the Associate Director, and finally the Director. Faculty seeking grants document the internal approval process by the WVPU Proposal Approval Form. To enhance the quality of proposals and increase the likelihood of successful applications, faculty requesting grants requests exceeding 20,000 euros must present their proposals to internal and invited external experts for comment and feedback prior to receiving approvals from any members of the Executive Board.
Research involving human subjects is subject to approval by an ethics committee. WVPU submits all ethics applications of eligible research of both faculty and students to the Ethics Committee of the Institutional Review Board (IRB) of Webster University. The IRB ensures that the proposed research meets the Webster University requirements for ethical research, as well as complies with any applicable federal regulations and processes in the country where the research takes occurs. IRB policy and review process.
External Research Review
WVPU conducts an external review of its research every three years as part of an external evaluation of research performance, research infrastructure, and teaching.
WVPU follows a clear, transparent and fair process for employee recruitment in compliance with the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area (ESG). All hires made go through a position control process, which justifies the position being created or filled, and are approved by the Executive Board and monitored by the University Council. The University has established job descriptions in accordance with functionally defined job categories and a pay scale system that both secures gender equality and provides an attractive environment for employees. The recruitment process varies depending on the category of employee, as indicated below.
WVPU’s Guidelines for Appointment, Extension and Promotion of Faculty details the standards and procedures pertaining to appointment and promotion of all faculty positions at WVPU.
The Guidelines for the Appointment, Extension and Promotion of Faculty also describe the minimum qualifications for adjunct faculty. They are subject to their own hiring procedure, outlined in the internal Adjunct Faculty Recruitment Process document.
The Recruitment and Onboarding Process outlines the procedure for the hiring and onboarding of administrative and scientific support staff.
Equal Opportunity Employer
Webster Vienna Private University (WVPU) is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer that values diversity among staff, faculty and students and considers such diversity critical to cultivating academic excellence and achieving its mission to foster global citizenship.
WVPU has an established four-member Working Group on Equal Opportunities (WGEO) with an elected diversity manager serving as its chair. The mission of the WGEO is to contribute to the expansion of equal opportunities within the WVPU community.
WVPU has an established Affirmative Action Plan for Managing Diversity and the Advancement of Women and produces a publicly available Annual Report on Equal Opportunity Employment and Affirmative Action.
WVPU has an established set of standardized and clear policies for its employees. These policies are available to employees in the internal employee handbook and HR info folder.
All University employees are required to abide with the WVPU Code of Conduct, which provides guidance and sets the baseline for the standards of ethical behavior of WVPU community members.