The term Quality Assurance in higher education is increasingly used to denote the practices whereby academic standards, that is, the level of academic achievement attained by higher education graduates, are maintained and improved.
This definition of academic quality as equivalent to academic standards is consistent with the emerging focus in higher education policies on student learning outcomes – the specific levels of knowledge, skills, and abilities that students achieve as a consequence of their engagement in a particular education program.
A useful distinction is drawn between internal and external academic quality assurance.
Internal quality assurance refers to those policies and practices whereby academic institutions themselves internally monitor and improve the quality of their education provision, while external quality assurance refers to supra-institutional policies and practices whereby the quality of higher education institutions and programs are assured.
Individual universities have always possessed policies and practices designed to assure the quality of education, but academic institutions have also always operated within a national policy framework designed by the state to assure academic standards. This article reviews the new forms of external quality assurance that have accompanied recent reforms in national policies and the issues they raise for higher education.
Quality Audit in the Higher Education Area the external quality assessment or evaluation of programs in higher education by academic and professional peers is a worldwide norm by national governments and quality assurance agencies in countries as diverse as the United States of America, Argentine, Brazil, Mexico, Britain, Netherlands , Norway, Portugal, Australia, South Africa and China.The external quality assessment/ evaluation practice in higher education primarily focuses on weaknesses and strengths of the quality mechanisms established by the institution or department itself to continuously monitor and enhance the continuous improvement and accountability of activities and services of a program.
The focus of quality assurance evaluation procedures is shifting from assessing the performance of higher education institutions and departments to evaluating the internal quality management process (Quality Audit Higher Education Area).
Hence it is important for the external assessors to hold discussions with mentor teachers, students and principal of the host school to establish their perceptions of the teaching practice program. External quality assessment program can assist institutions and departments monitor the effectiveness of their internal quality assurance mechanisms in facilitating the continuous improvement and accountability aspects of a program such as teaching practice that the prime purpose of the external quality assessment is to ensure that higher education institutions have internal quality assurance mechanisms in place and share best practices that enhance continuous improvement and accountability of operations and that such practices work according to stated objectives , bring about change and have international credibility. a team of experience external assessors can show how well students are doing and bring in fresh perspective and objectivity to the program.
Worldwide practice is that the external quality assessment process is preceded by a self evaluation report and is executed by independent external quality assessors The external assessment process is usually designed to assess the existence, adequacy and effectiveness of internal institutional quality assurance mechanisms within institutions . The external quality assessors first scrutinize the self-evaluation report for evidence of the internal quality assurance mechanisms and their effectiveness towards ensuring continuous improvement and accountability.
A major impact of the of EQA bodies has been the introduction of Internal Quality Assurance (IQA) at institutional level . IQA refers to policies and practices used by Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to monitor and improve the quality of their education services, while EQA refers to supra-institutional policies and practices whereby the quality of HEIs and programs are assured. Both EQA and IQA form an ecosystem of QA mechanisms in higher education.
Various different driving forces have made IQA a global reform trend in higher education. As stated earlier, IQA refers to institutional arrangements for quality management. The main function of IQA in higher education is to manage the quality cycle as it relates to the trifocal functions of a university (teaching, research, service) and the attendant support infrastructure.
The Role of Quality Assurance in Higher Education:
Challenges, developments and trends UNESCO Regional Meeting on QA.
Revised Regional Conventions • Significant improvements in the texts, while still preserving some important principles – The right to education is a human right and higher education represents an exceptionally rich cultural and scientific asset for both individuals and society. – The preservation and strengthening of the cultural identity and diversity of the countries of the regions, and respecting the specific character of their education systems. – Promotion of lifelong learning, the democratization of education and the adoption and application of educational policies allowing for structural, economic, technological and social change.
Revised UNESCO Recognition Conventions: Building on founding principles • Transparent information of quality assurance processes for HE • Open mechanisms for information about higher education institutions and programs • Trust building between different national institutions and competent recognition authorities • Greater shared understanding of fair and reasonable processes and procedures for recognition
Quality Assurance in Higher Education: Traditions of QA Mechanisms • Systems with QA units within education authorities • Buffer organizations • List of recognized accrediting bodies: Council for Higher education Accreditation (CHEA) • Regional Accreditation Associations • Specialized and Professional accreditation • Strong tradition of institutional autonomy
Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all the knowledge and skills that are needed to promote a more sustainable future: ‘By 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development.’
Higher Education also to imply the term professional development with wide variety of specialized training, formal education, or advanced professional learning intended to help administrators, teachers, and other educators improve their professional knowledge, competence, skill, and effectiveness. Professional development is learning to earn or maintain professional credentials such as academic degrees to formal coursework, conferences and informal learning opportunities situated in practice. It has been described as intensive and collaborative, ideally incorporating an evaluative stage. Continuing professional development is important because it ensures you continue to be competent in your profession. It is an ongoing process and continues throughout a professional’s career. The same is true for professionals with many years’ experience in the workplace.
Balancing of Educational Academic curriculum with the Universal Employablility Skills.
Quality Assurance systems in Higher Education also to comply Universal Employability Skills like:
Action on quality assurance:
Firstly, almost all major countries and societies have introduced the phrase ‘quality assurance’ or ‘quality improvement’ or equivalent terms into higher education.
Although usages and interpretations of these terms may vary depending upon different contexts and over time in a particular country or society, the issue of quality assurance and-or improvement has become one of the top priorities of higher education reform at both a national and institutional level.
More importantly, in addition to traditional practices of assuring the quality of higher education, based mainly on national standards relating to the establishment of universities and colleges, there have emerged an increasing number of new agencies and organisations specifically designated for quality assurance. In some countries these agencies and organisations are directly affiliated to the ministry of education or ministries at a central level.
For example, China established its Higher Education Evaluation Center of the Ministry of Education in 2004, which has separate legal status. In actuality, however, it is part of the Ministry of Education because its leaders are directly appointed by the ministry and its major budgets also come from the central government.
Second, many countries in the region have built multi-tiered and multi-faceted quality assurance into higher education frameworks. At a regional level, quality assurance frameworks with two separate dimensions have been established in most countries and societies.
On the one hand, traditional patterns of quality assurance, such as standards relating to the establishment of universities and colleges and other regulations determined by the central governments or local authorities, still exist. They assure the minimum quality of universities by ex-ante restrictions.
On the other hand, ex-post evaluations, conducted after a certain period has passed since the completion of a project, have been established. These are often made up of self-assessment, certified and third-party accreditation and evaluation. In most cases, they are concerned with accreditation and evaluation by third-party agencies or incorporated bodies approved by central governments.
Finally, The objective of QA in HE should meet the orientation towards bridging the gaps between academics and professional requirements enabling every student to sustain in the outer world named as organizational world as an effective employee with the objective of leading a peaceful life, cutting down all the continuous challenges of worldly behavioral issues with values, integrity and honesty in all their actions.
Dr. Duvvada Rama Prasad
General Manager (Projects)-Safety
RINL, Vizag Steel, Visakhapatnam.
The author having 33+ years of industrial experience in various areas of industry business process mappings and being a passionate student mentor for around 25+ years for those students who visits industry and also invited speaker at several engineering colleges and management courses for various topics. The author also got opportunity to be part of syllabus updation at autonomic and University Level to the extent possible incorporated most of the real-time requirements of social behavioral issues, employability skills, entrepreneurship skills with practical case studies.
Co-author: Mr. D. Sai Samhit
2nd Yr, BE(Mech), NHCE, VU, Bangalore