Practicalities for the USI community

Quality assurance: internal guidelines

Elaborated by: USI Quality Assurance Service

Document approved by the Academic Senate on 17.10.2019 and approved by University Council on 05.03.2021



Quality assurance at USI (USI QA)


The former internal directives for quality assurance at USI dated back to May 2007.  The University Council's decision, 10 years later (June 2017), to systematize and thus initially map USI's macro-processes and processes, and the imminent institutional accreditation procedure that all Swiss universities must undergo according to the new university law, have led to a complete revision.

  • The processes form the core of the new quality assurance concept.
  • The macro-processes organize the approach taken to define them.
  • The University Council (CU) with its Accreditation Commission has planned the roadmap and activated the gradual change by delegating:
    • to the Quality Assurance Service the mapping of processes;
    • to the Commission for the Culture of Quality (CCQ) of the Academic Senate, the task of accompanying and monitoring the development.

Here are the various stages of the planned path:

  • 2018: the Rectorate traced the perimeter by defining the framework of USI macro-processes (see diagram on the right side).
  • 2019 Jan: the Quality Assurance Services began mapping the processes taking place within the university in January 2019, and the Academic Senate was regularly informed of the progress.
  • Oct 2019: the Academic Senate approved the new internal process-based QA provisions at its meeting on October 17, 2019.
  • 2020: the first internal self-assessment cycle began in January 2020.

Quality Assurance Cycle

USI's internal quality assurance cycle involves three main steps:

  • Process mapping.
  • Regular self-evaluation.
  • Sampled analysis and monitoring.

The cyclicity is defined by the Academic Senate in agreement with the Quality Assurance Service, and takes into account the fulfilment every 7 years of the institutional accreditation according to Swiss university law.



The objective of the internal quality assurance cycle is to improve the processes and thus the organization of the university.


Stakeholders, tasks and responsibilities


The internal quality assurance cycle is carried out by the following stakeholders who have the tasks listed below. The interaction between the various players is shown in the diagram on the right, the tasks and responsibilities are shown in the table on the right. Representation of all components of USI is ensured by the primary involvement of the Academic Senate.

University Council, Accreditation Commission and Rectorate:

  • the University Council determines the methods of internal evaluation (see USI Statute, Art. 50) and is regularly informed;
  • the Accreditation Commission assists the Rectorate and the University Council (cf. USI Statute, art. 18), and makes proposals on the methodology and tools used;
  • the Rectorate is entrusted with the task of overseeing and thus directing the execution of the work.

CCQ - Commission for the Culture of Quality of the Academic Senate:

  • has the mandate from the University Council to accompany in general and monitor the quality assurance process at USI;
  • performs sample analysis of the validated processes, according to the guidelines (position in the framework, content, optimization, suggestions, etc.);
  • discusses the results of the self-assessment of processes with the Quality Assurance Service;
  • proposes improvements on the basis of its process analysis and the owners' self-assessment of processes;
  • proposes new processes to be mapped.

Quality Assurance Service:

  • is responsible for process mapping;
  • activates the owners' self-assessment of processes;
  • collects owners' self-assessment of processes;
  • provides support for process analysis by CCQ;
  • consults with CCQ on the results of the self-assessment;
  • keeps the Academic Senate informed of quality assurance developments.

Process owner:

  •  describes and validates the processes of which he/she is the owner;
  •  is responsible for the proper conduct of the processes of which he/she is the owner;
  •  is responsible for the self-assessment of the processes of which he/she is the owner by completing the self-assessment form;
  •  may provide suggestions for improvements to the Academic Senate regarding the processes it owns.


Process Mapping

The systematic work of mapping USI processes, which began in January 2019, makes use of the online platform ADONIS, accessible internally at:, on which each process is depicted according to the same criteria of recognized and current use of the business process modeling standard "Business Process Model and Notation" (BPMN).

The procedure introduced for the mapping work is carried out by the Quality Assurance Service and foresees an initial personal contact with the process owner, on the one hand to explain the purpose and functionality of the mapping, and on the other to draw up an initial catalog of activities or procedures for which the owner is responsible at USI and which will be conveniently mapped as processes. The Quality Assurance Service will take care of the correct representation of the process in accordance with the needs and indications of the owner. Subsequently, the same will formally validate the process within the ADONIS platform.

(For the most current status of process mapping, refer to the Quality Assurance Service).


Self-assessment procedure


The first instance of process control is the self-assessment by the process owner. The objective of the self-assessment is a critical analysis of the status of a process by the process owner. The procedure is carried out with the help of a simple standard questionnaire specifically created and made available online by the Quality Assurance Service, which takes care of collecting and archiving the answers (report). Each individual process has its own self-assessment questionnaire.


Analysis and control procedure

The CCQ carries out the quality control of the processes by establishing an annual program of quality assurance and sample analysis of USI's validated processes according to one or more of the following criteria:

  • analysis of all processes within a macro-process;
  • analysis of a topic of particular interest;
  • in-depth analysis with a view to introducing changes at the strategic level;
  • analysis of a process in response to specific questions or needs;
  • response to identified critical issues;
  • redefinition of the USI framework;
  • at the proposal of the Quality Assurance Service;
  • at the discretion of the CCQ.

The Quality Assurance Service provides the necessary support to the CCQ, and proposes a set of guidelines to set up and facilitate its work.

The CCQ must establish an annual plan to be presented to the Academic Senate and must prepare at least once a year a report on the work done. The Academic Senate, on the basis of the CCQ report, will propose to the owners of the analyzed processes on the one hand, and to the USI governing bodies on the other hand, the implementation of the improvements to be introduced and possible changes or corrective measures.




Updated on: 21 April 2021