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Measures required to improve governance of subject teacher education programmes

Programmes for the education of teachers at the upper levels of compulsory school and upper secondary schools have long been criticised for their poor quality. The Swedish NAO audit shows that better governance with clearer division of responsibility, more effective coordination and greater student influence would counter these shortcomings.

Teacher standing at a whiteboard with a binder in hand.

Photo: Maskot

The State is responsible for teacher education. Standards of education for subject teachers have, however, been called into question from various quarters, and these shortcomings have been found difficult to rectify.

For this reason, the Swedish NAO has audited the governance of subject teacher programmes at Stockholm University, Linnaeus University and Gävle University College. These higher education institutions have been chosen because they have different conditions, including in terms of organisation, size and geographical location.

“Subject teacher programmes are difficult to govern, since higher education institutions have many different tasks and many interests have to be balanced against each other. What benefits subject teacher education does not necessarily benefit other parts of the higher education institution, and vice versa. How higher education institutions choose to handle this is of great importance to the standard of the programme,” says Jens Pettersson, project leader for the audit.

The Swedish NAO considers that all the higher education institutions that were audited have scope to develop the governance of their programmes. Most important is for the higher education institutions to clarify to varying degrees the division of responsibility and improve coordination so as to improve the standard of the programmes. In addition, they need to make more use of students’ experience.

Stockholm University has the greatest scope for improvement, where unclear division of responsibility and a complex organisation have led to time-consuming coordination.

“The shortcomings at Stockholm University have led, among other things, to measures aimed at developing these programmes being delayed, or not implemented at all. In order to deal with several of the challenges that exist, governance must meet the needs of programmes better”, says Jens Pettersson.

“Although our findings apply to the three higher education institutions that we audited, we consider that other universities and university colleges running teacher education programmes may also benefit significantly from the audit,” says Auditor General Helena Lindberg.

Recommendations in brief

The Swedish NAO recommends:

  • Stockholm University to clarify the division of responsibility for programmes and increase the efficiency of coordination.
  • Gävle University College to build up structures for further involving those responsible for the subjects and the educational science core in the governance of teacher education programmes.
  • Linnaeus University to establish a clear division of responsibility, committee procedures and communication channels within all faculties and institutions that run teacher education programmes, and for the board of teachers education.

Stockholm University and Gävle University College are also recommended to involve students more in the development of programmes, among other things, by building up well-functioning channels for student influence.

See the report for full recommendations.

Press contact: Olle Castelius, phone: +46 8-5171 40 04.

Uppdaterad: 07 September 2020

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