- JOINT PROJECT -‘Strengthening Higher Education in BiH’Task force for qualifications frameworks in higher education23-24 May 2006 HIGHER EDUCATION AND QUALITY ASSURANCE IN HIGHER EDUCATION Stephen Adam, University of Westminster
HIGHER EDUCATION FOR QUALITY - QUALITY IN HIGHER EDUCATION FOCUS ON: • What is quality (terminology)? • What does quality in Higher Education mean? • Quality evaluation in Europe • What are the purposes of European quality assurance? • The purposes of quality assurance in the UK • Different dimensions to quality: • Local/Institutional (bottom-up v top-down) • National (QA agencies) • International (good practice guidelines) • The Bologna Process and quality - recent European developments • Bergen Communiqué • Implications for institutions • The European quality assurance dimension • European quality assurance: the longer term • The Albanian Master Plan – Challenges • Final thoughts…
1. What is quality (terminology)? QUALITY: ‘The level of excellence’ QUALITY ASSURANCE: ‘The means (internal and external) and processes by which the quality of academic provision is maintained and confirmed’ STANDARDS: ‘Accepted measurement on which to base a judgement’ QUALITY ENHANCEMENT: ‘Improving quality’’
2. What does quality in Higher Education mean? RELATES TO: • Education as a ‘public good’ + ‘public responsibility’ • Educational transparency + choice + diversity • Equality of opportunity – access and social inclusion • Excellent programmes of study • The student experience • Efficient use of resources • Good governance (all levels) • Clear articulation of values: corruption + freedom to research, etc. • Standards: integrity, professionalism, accountability, openness • Robust: review, monitoring and validation of courses/institutions • Academic autonomy with responsibility
3. Quality evaluation in Europe • Since the 1990s most countries have a national agency (or agencies) responsible for external quality evaluation. • All countries have some kind of quality assurance mechanism in place but they differ significantly in terms of purpose, focus and organisation. Some are: • Outcomes-based (focus on evidence + qualitative aspects) • Input-based (focus on resources + quantitative aspects) • Programme-based system • Subject-based approaches (benchmarking) • Institution-based (Audit) approaches • Mixtures of the above • The role, function and ownership of central/national agencies varies according to autonomyand responsibilities of institutions
Most follow a similar process but with very different outcomes and emphasis in terms of: • Self-evaluation • Visit by external body representatives • Report • Consequences • Accreditation agencies are another approach, they act as external bodies to ‘authorise’ new programmes and/or institutions. Some institutions seek accreditation from overseas agencies/institutions/professional bodies
4. What are the purposes of European quality assurance? • Accountability? • Academic standards? • Enhancement? • Information? • Control? • Standardisation?
5. The purposes of quality assurance in the UK: www.qaa.ac.uk Security of academic standards of qualifications Enhancement of students’ learning opportunities and experience Accountability Information
6. Different dimensions to quality: • Local/Institutional (bottom-up v top-down) • National (Quality Assurance Agencies) • International (good practice guidelines, EUA, etc.)
The Bologna Process and quality - recent European developments The 2005 Bergen Communiqué inter alia: • Sought more progress in European QA, particularly student involvement + international cooperation • Urged Higher Education Institutions to introduce internal QA mechanisms linked to external QA • Adopted the ENQA ‘Standards and Guidelines’’ • Required a report for the London Ministerial meeting 2007 • Agreed the proposed peer review model of QA agencies • Welcomed the European register of QA agencies • Adopted the overarching framework for qualifications • Committed countries to elaborating compatible national frameworks
These decisions have unstated implications for institutions: • Require a high measure of institutional autonomy and responsibility • Imply a different relationship between HEIs and state/ministry • Put in place outcome/output based systems and reference points • Engender an internal/external reform in approaches to QA • Need to facilitate institutional transparency, diversity and responsibility
European quality assurance requirements(Peter Williams - Chair of ENQA) • Must acknowledge the importance of the public interest • Must have clear aims and objectives • Must be realistic • Must be achievable • Must start with national, regional and institutional autonomy and diversity • Must offer both reliable public information and opportunities for institutional development and improvement • Must be fit for purpose • Must be properly resourced • Must not be rushed
European quality assurance: the longer term(Peter Williams - Chair of ENQA) • Common concepts • Common language • Shared understandings and values • A European HE quality culture? • Qualifications recognition • Comparable academic standards • Useful information for stakeholders • Improved academic professionalism • Better higher education
Challenges to BiH:(The same challenges face us all!) • Develop a multi-dimensional strategy at the local/institutional, national and international levels (realistic targets + build on existing good practice). • Identify and consult all stakeholders to build a consensus (including students, employers, external experts, etc) • Create a new style qualifications framework – external reference points/standards • Adopt effective ways to monitor, review, validate (quality assure and quality enhance + possibly, codes of practice) • Promote good governance within higher education institutions • Move from external prescription to internal rigour + move from assertion to verifiable information • Develop an appropriate academic infrastructure and academic culture to underpins it (staff development)
9. Final thought! THIS IS NOT QUALTY ASSURANCE QUALITY ASSURANCE IS NOT SOMETHING DONE TO YOU!
References: • Bologna website and Secretariat: http://www.dfes.gov.uk/bologna • Europe Unit (UK): www.europeunit.ac.uk • European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA): www.enqa.net • European Commission: http://europa.eu.int/comm/dgs/education_culture/index_en.htm • European Universities Association (EUA): www.eua.be • EUA Developing a quality culture Project http://www.eua.be/eua/en/projects_quality.jspx • Lisbon Recognition Convention: http://conventions.coe.int • National Union of Students in Europe (ESIB): www.esib.org • UK Quality Assurance Agency:http://www.qaa.ac.uk