The Quality Assurance system of ZU is – in keeping with its self-image as a "learning university" – oriented towards a continuous, contentual, and systemic progression and optimization of its performance in teaching, research, and services. The criteria for the establishment, safeguarding, and development of ZU's performance quality follow the model and quality objectives (which are formulated as part of its policy) set by the Valuation Standards Council for the Analysis and Development of Study, Teaching, Research, Further Education and Services.
As such, the role of Quality Assurance is to further develop the organizational responsivity and productivity of ZU in such a way that contributions from students, scientists, workers, or stakeholders from outside the university, be they scientific, organizational, educational, financial, or strategic in nature, can be channeled in a suitable way and optimally used for the further development of the university.
This applies to ZU's original activities in the areas of research, teaching, and services, as well as the relational structure and the respective work context of the aforementioned stakeholders.
Here, the ZU's Quality Assurance directives are informed by Attitude, ZU Strategy and the focus on the university's Quality-Oriented Qualification and Organization.
At ZU, the term Attitude stands for a fundamental understanding of the crucial determinants of the university's actions regarding individual and institutional character and impact, independent of the period and the programs on offer. Through its approach ZU sets an operational and attitudinal framework for administrative and academic business which is continually refined, value-driven, and universal. The aim here is to initially come at every idea from a point of view of facilitation. Following the principle of participative decision making, these standards of ZU are openly discussed, critically evaluated, and defined and interpreted in a solution-oriented way. The guidelines which are set in this way are documented and then conveyed and communicated through the intra-university communications channels.
Here, quality is defined as a canon of values and requirements shared by everyone affiliated with the university, from which collective responsibility and obligation are transformed into participatively-developed and institutionally-defined standards (so-called "mixed planning" as an iterative hybrid of bottom-up and top-down approaches).
With increasing organizational maturity and experience, these values will be gradually refined and copper-fastened. Hence they blueprint the vision of the university on the one hand in terms of a mutual self-image concerning the operational variety of roles and tasks in science and administration, and on the other hand in terms of the positioning and distinction of its own academic aspirations in the national and international college environment.
Attitude is defined and documented in ZU's 5 Year Strategy.
Quality Assurance has always been viewed by ZU as one of the essential determinants for the mid- and long-term establishment of the university. As far back as 2003, as part of ZU's first strategic plan, it was defined as such in the framework of the then mid-term strategy entitled "6 vor 8" ("6 before 8") (six core projects which were the focus before 2008 – the year of institutional accreditation). Of the groups which, even back then, were designated for strategy implementation analysis, the vast majority (Teacher Evaluation, Activity Reports, and Service Quality among others) are, though not quite in the same form as before, still a focus of Quality Assurance.
As part of the formulation of the second university strategy ZUzwölf (2008 – 2012), the knowledge gained during the university's early days was also reviewed, conceptually revised, and fine-tuned with regard to the efficiency of ZU's qualitative, structural, and content-related measures. Along with the aforementioned points, this meant the further systemic integration of Quality Assurance in the organization through a performance indicator-oriented, integral, and transparent structuring of internal processes and an expansion of the institutionalized involvement of external expertise.
In the current five year strategy, "z7z" (2013 – 2017) the Board of Directors is concentrating on a strategy of self-commitment to vehicles of social responsibility and their scientific impact. Key dimensions and issues here are:
Which "social innovations" are there in teaching and didactics in the 21st century?
What contribution can universities make to the formation of future leaders?
How can we promote socially relevant research?
How can we explore new fields of research through relationship building?
Outside of teaching and research, how do we impact the ministries, industries, cultural institutions and media of the region?
How do we organize and finance a culture of facilitation (see a further explanation of this under "Downloads" at the end of this page) for social innovations for applicants and members of ZU?
Which social innovations will make us more attractive to employers?How can we achieve the necessary diversity for innovation?
How can we measure our impact as a university?How can we improve experimental excellence?
According to the "Prinzip der kurzen Wege" ("principle of short distances"), the implementation and refinement of Quality Assurance takes place within the framework of an institutionalized mechanism for co-ordination and reflection. Direct and regular contact between the key figures on the Board of Directors, in Teaching Administration and in Program Direction is the main catalyst for an efficient and effective culture of communication with regard to the full realization of potential. In addition, the university places great value on the structural involvement of the accompanying expertise from the fields of politics, science, and culture in the academic, entrepreneurial and organizational issues which concern ZU (see also Quality Assurance Responsibilities Matrix in the downloads section below).
The embedding of the previously described "quality" is therefore not a peripheral job, nor is it seen as something outside of day-to-day business. Rather it is a self-evident and equal aspect of the normal scheduling, completion, and reviewing of work, from both a personal and institutional point of view. Alongside the direct, problem-oriented solutions for "ordinary workflow" in the areas of teaching, research, and services, the quality-promoting and consolidating interaction between people in authority and employees (as part of decision-making bodies and discussion forums) generates important questions regarding the adaptation of the university's Attitude and Strategy – the very things by which it defines itself and its range of programs. Additional Quality Assurance mechanisms are introduced, depending on quality criteria and systemic necessity.
Here, special emphasis is placed on the definition, documentation, communication, and continual optimization of intra-organizational processes. The process mapping is not a bureaucratic end in itself, but rather it is aimed at resolving the apparent discrepancy between a standardization-oriented process structure and the vision of a reflection-friendly, innovation-friendly system through regular scrutinization of ZU's own work management systems.
Since the awarding of System Accreditation (the highest level of national Quality Accreditation) in September 2013, ZU is responsible for the Quality Assurance of its own programs. Program Accreditation (Program Accreditations) through external accreditation agencies are no longer necessary as long as all program changes and developments go through the internal Quality Assurance system methodically and verifiably. ZU has introduced "Quality Assurance Tracks" in order to classify, standardize, and systematize the developmental process. The tracks define the form and rigor of the procedure in an already existing program structure (in study programs which are already up and running) or the originality of the proposal (where the establishment of a new course is concerned) and all of the associated Quality Assurance steps and responsibilities. In this way it is ensured that all programs on offer are in line with internal strategic, academic, and commercial parameters while also complying with national and international guidelines.
In the "Downloads" section you will find a limited selection of key documents relating to ZU's quality standards in teaching, research, and administration.