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Third external evaluation of the University of Luxembourg

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Published on Monday, 27 February 2017

External evaluators have awarded the University of Luxembourg excellent marks for its research and for the institution's development phase. The four-year-cycle procedure stipulated in university legislation has now been conducted for the third time. The evaluation presented today was split into two parts, research and institutional.

               Third external evaluation: all the reports

The research evaluation represents the first comprehensive quantitative and qualitative examination of the University's overall research performance from 2012 to 2015. The evaluators confirmed that nine out of the 13 research units and interdisciplinary research centres ”enjoy a leading international role". Those are the Interdisciplinary Centre for Security, Reliability and Trust (SnT) and the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB), as well as the Research Centres for Physics and Material Sciences, Computer Science and Communications, Mathematics and Law and the Centre for Research in Economics and Management (CREA) as well as the Identités, Politiques, Sociétés, Espaces (IPSE) research unit and the Integrative Research Unit on Social and Individual Development (INSIDE).

According to the experts, seven of the 13 research units have acquired significant third-party funding, primarily from the National Research Fund (FNR) and the EU Commission. In particular, the evaluators emphasised the University's international character and its contribution to Luxembourg’s society. The report also highlights the first-class working conditions at the University, the highly motivated and eminently qualified researchers, the strategic focus on a few core research fields as well as the outstanding national and international networking and cooperation.

"The excellent evaluation of our research units will encourage us to continue investing in them sustainably in order to maintain, and even enhance, their international position," enthused University President Rainer Klump. "We regard ourselves as a university that serves the country and the entire region. The University is already Luxembourg's most successful internationalisation project, and we will continue to develop our role as an international research hub. The good marks confirm that our strategy is paying off."

The experts also identified room for improvement in certain areas, such as strategic planning and organisation of individual research units, the formalisms of institutional quality assurance as well as career and development opportunities for employees.

These are some of the key results of the University's new external research evaluation conducted by Swiss-based Interface Politikstudien Forschung Beratung GmbH.

Institutional evaluation: young university undergoing a consolidation phase

In parallel, an institutional evaluation was prepared focusing on governance, management, organisation, quality management and culture, teaching and learning, internationalisation as well as research in general. This evaluation drew a positive conclusion as well: “The team found a small, young, and active university at an important consolidation phase in its development, allowing it to move from the initial “start-up” period to that of a well-established international player in both education and research, with significant benefits for Luxembourg society and economy,” stated the examiners from the Institutional Evaluation Programme of the European University Association.

The experts advised the University to concentrate on the upcoming consolidation phase. This would also involve the completion of the Belval Campus and promoting student life there. The authors of the report also recommend further improving (and, where possible, decentralising) academic and administrative decision-making processes, further developing quality management, honing the pedagogic and internationalisation strategy, paying close attention to the balance and links between research and teaching and integrating students more closely.

A series of University initiatives were already launched to deal with the shortcomings outlined in the evaluation reports. "Furthermore, support from the Parliament and the Government will remain decisive, particularly with regard to the budget and the new university legislation planned," underlined Rainer Klump. The University recognises great potential in the university legislation in order to further governance and management structures and to pave the way for the future development of the University.

Various proposed measures, such as the reorganisation of individual research units, are on the way. Course accreditation, enhanced digital teaching methods and lifelong learning packages are also being planned. Additionally, official student representatives were also appointed for the first time in 2016, and students became more closely involved in the governance of the University. Set to be officially opened this year, the "Maison des Arts et des Étudiants" will be a milestone for increased student activity on the Belval Campus.

All recommendations proposed by the evaluators have been analysed together with the Board of Govenors and, wherever possible, will be implemented as part of the next four-year plan (2018 to 2021).

Today, the Minister for Higher Education presented to the public both reports drafted by the external examiners.

© Michel Brumat / Université du Luxembourg