Principles for systematic quality assurance in doctoral education

KI has a quality assurance system (QA-system) to provide systematic quality assurance based on the Swedish Higher Education Act and Ordinance, the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Sector (ESG) and it embraces the goals described in KI’s Strategy 2030.

Quality assurance in doctoral education forms part of the KI QA-system decided by the University President. Instructions regarding quality assurance in doctoral education are decided by the Committee of Doctoral Education.

KI’s QA-system includes two main processes: 

  • Internal ongoing monitoring

  • Periodic external review 

These processes aim at identifying strengths and the need for quality development.

The picture shows how the two main processes in KI’s quality assurance system, ongoing monitoring and periodic review, are linked together as gearwheels.

Ongoing monitoring

The quality of doctoral education is monitored in five ways: 

•    Exit Poll survey
•    Dialogues
•    Written reflections of the quality assurance work at the departments
•    Statistics
•    Evaluation of courses

A questionnaire is sent to all doctoral students soon after their thesis defence.

Information on purpose, content, handling and result

  1. One-to-one dialogue between those responsible at the faculty level and those responsible at the departmental level
    - Yearly
  2. Meetings with the departmental study directors and administrators 
    - Twice a year
  3. Meetings with doctoral programmes and research schools
    - Regularly
  4. Ongoing dialogue
    - A continuous collection of comments and views from those working close to the doctoral students
  5. Student perspective dialogue: between the faculty level and the Doctoral Student Association and the doctoral students’ ombudsperson
    - Regularly


  • To create relationships and to build a mutual trust
  • To gain information on the challenges and priorities the departments are faced with
  • To identify good practices
  • To contribute to the yearly quality analysis of KI’s doctoral education and to identify areas in need of quality development.
  • To inform and implement new quality development activities

When the dialogue includes more than one department:

  • To find consensus between the departments
  • To contribute to peer learning

Instructions for the doctoral education dialogue (in Swedish)


Every 4 years in conjunction with when Exit poll results on departmental level is available. 


That those responsible for doctoral education at each department reflect on their responsibilities, and to assure that routines and processes are working satisfactory. The focus should be on learning and development, not control.


  1. The Committee of Doctoral Education decides before each follow-up cycle which questions to be asked. The questions must be relevant and cover aspects that are not covered in any other follow-up activity, and are limited to the duties and responsibilities of the departmental Study Director.
  2. Each department receives data (Exit Poll results, statistics and other relevant information) as a base for the discussion.
  3. Each department writes a self-evaluation 
  4. The self-evaluations are used for:
    • Peer-learning
    • In the quality dialogues 
    • As a source of information when writing KI’s self-evaluation at the periodic external review

Analysed yearly:

  • Number of doctoral students
  • Number of newly admitted doctoral students and number of examinations
  • Net and gross study time
  • Number of “clinical” doctoral students (i.e. performing the doctoral education within an employment at the medical/health care sector)
  • Number of applications for advertised doctoral positions 
  • Number of applications for faculty funds for financing doctoral students
  • Number of applications to research schools

All statistics are presented with gender breakdown and with comparisons with previous years. 

Examples of statistics analysed if needed:

  • Statistics above divided in departments, campuses etc.
  • The use of individual study plans
  • How the doctoral students are financially supported
  • Number of doctoral students per supervisor

Data sources: Ladok (student data), Primula (HR), Varbi (recruitment), ISP system (individual study plans)

The quality of all doctoral courses is followed-up and monitored through course evaluations and course analyses. This applies to all courses regardless if they are coordinated by a doctoral programme, within a research school or free-standing courses.

Besides the ongoing follow-up activities described above, other evaluations and surveys contribute with important information for the quality development. 

Aspects of doctoral education are also integrated in other quality assurance activities at KI since doctoral students, besides being students, also are co-workers and researchers. 

For example: 

Periodic external review

Every 8 years, KI’s doctoral education is reviewed by external experts.

One entity

The entire KI’s doctoral education is reviewed as one entity. The doctoral student’s research projects cover different research areas, but there are only one doctoral education subject at KI, Medical Science, to which all doctoral students are admitted to. 

Assessment areas 

KI uses the same assessment areas as UKÄ do when they evaluating doctoral education. Focus is on how KI assure the all doctoral students have the prerequisites needed to reach the degree outcomes, and on how KI make sure that they have reached the outcomes at the time of examination. 

Basis for the assessment

The external experts will base their assessment on:

  • KI’s written self-evaluation
  • Interviews with representatives of different groups and roles

Time plan

The first external review will be performed during 2025.

Quality development

The picture shows how the two main processes in KI’s quality assurance system, ongoing monitoring and periodic review, are linked together as gearwheels.

Once a year the Committee of Doctoral Education (KFU) present a quality report which includes:

  • Presentation of the quality development work during the year
  • Results from the follow-up activities during the year
  • Strengths and development areas
  • A plan for the future quality development

Quality reports from the Committee of Doctoral Education (in Swedish)

Structures to give prerequisites for high quality  

To assure that all doctoral students have the prerequisite to reach the learning outcomes in the designated time frame, KI has over several years developed rules, processes and structures. It is these structures that are evaluated and monitored within the quality assurance system. 

Information on doctoral eudcation:

Doctoral education
Rules for doctoral education at KI