Quality Assurance and Accreditation

Report
The Role of Accreditation and Assessment
Commissions in HE QA
Richard Lewis
Former Pro-vice-chancellor of the Open
University (UK)
Immediate Past President of the International
Network of Quality Assurance Agencies in
Higher Education (INQAAHE)
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Summary of Presentation
•
•
•
•
•
The role of QA agencies
To whom they are accountable
Their remit
The “standard model” and variations thereon
Current developments including increased emphasis
on quality enhancement and the need to cater for a
maturing yet diversifying HE system
• INQAAHE’s Guidelines of Good Practice for QA
Agencies
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Definitions
Quality Assurance
Quality assurance is an all-embracing term covering all the policies,
processes, and actions through which the quality of higher education is
maintained and developed. (Campbell and Rozsnyai, 2002)
Quality Assessment
Quality Assessment covers both the means by which a judgement is
made about the quality and standards of an institution or a
programme and the judgement itself. (Vlãscanu, Grünberg and Pârlea,
2004)
Accreditation
Accreditation is a form of quality assessment where the outcome is a
binary (yes/no) decision that usually involves the granting of special
status to an institution or programme (CHEA 2001).
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The prime functions of QA (including
accreditation) Agencies
Are the institutions that fall within its remit
• Doing the right thing
• And are doing it right.
Which begs the questions
• Who decides what is the right thing?
• How does an institution demonstrate that it is
doing it right?
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To whom are QA agencies accountable?
The wider community – not necessarily the same
thing as government.
QA agencies should work closely with the
institutions for whom they have responsibility and
should remain aware that it is the institutions that
have ultimate responsibility for the quality and
standards of the programmes they deliver and the
overall academic environment they provide for
their students.
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Remit of QA agencies
Programmes only
Institutions only
Both
20%
16%
64%
Notes
• 2008 figures based on the INQAAHE database.
• Above exclude programme specific agencies such as professional bodies
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The “Standard” model
In an INQAAHE survey virtually all agencies stated
that used the following approach
• Sets of regulations and guidelines formulated
• A self evaluation prepared by the institution
• The appointment of a peer group whose review
of the institution or programme would start with
a review of the self evaluation
• Site visits by the peer group.
• The publication of a report or, in some cases, only
the decision
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Different approaches to applying the basic
model
Hard or Soft
Hard
• Agency closely specifies content of self study
report.
• Agency issues a grade as a result of the process
• Agency emphasises checking minimum standards
as opposed to encouraging enhancement
• Assess rather than audit
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The difference between audit and assessment
Audit
QAA states that one of three objectives of
institutional audit is to ensure that the
institution has effective means of ensuring that
the awards and qualifications in HE are of an
academic standard at least consistent with those
referred to in The framework for higher
education qualifications in England, Wales and
Northern Ireland (FHEQ) ….
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The difference between audit and assessment 2
Assessment
“An institutional accrediting body evaluates an
entire organization and accredits as a whole. It
assesses formal educational activities and also
evaluates governance and administration, financial
stability, admissions and student personnel
services, resources, student academic achievement,
organizational effectiveness, and relationships with
outside constituencies”.
Higher Education Corporation
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Publication – contrasting approaches
Europe
“Reports should be published and should be written
in a way which is clear and readily accessible to
its intended readership”
(ENQA 2005)
The United States
“In most cases, the Commission will not make
reports public without the permission of the
college or university.”
(HEC 2003)
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Publication of Reports
Europe
Asia and
Australasia
Africa and the
Middle East
North America
South and Central
America and the
Caribbean
TOTALS
% ages
Publishes Does not Unknown TOTALS
Reports
Publish
Reports
17
11
28
4
11
15
4
3
3
3
8
2
31
46%
35
52%
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8
11
5
1
1%
67
12
In the early days QA agencies relied heavily on
two main elements
• The intuitive judgement of the academic
reviewers based, not on agreed explicit
requirements, but on their experience
• Relatively crude quantitative input measures
such as the ratio of academic staff (faculty) to
students and the number of books in the
library.
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But things are changing
Amongst the more important emerging trends are:
• A switch in emphasise from quality assurance for
accountability to quality assurance for
enhancement
• The change in focus from inputs to outputs
• The move away from the reliance on the intuitive
experience of reviewers to an approach based on
explicit statements of the requirements imposed
on institutions and programmes
• Increasing attention to international issues
including Cross-border Higher Education (CBHE)
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Accountability and Enhancement
Accountability is concerned with the institution
being able to demonstrate that it is operating at
or above the basic minimum standard, while
quality enhancement is concerned with the
continuous process of quality improvement.
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As QA systems mature
QA agencies will need to adapt their approaches
after, say, two or three rounds of review or
accreditation.
But they might then have to deal with a range of
institutions from the very well to the very newly
established institutions.
There are some good examples of dealing with
this problem – but not very many!
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INQAAHE – Guidelines of Good Practice for QA
agencies
• Established in 1991 with about 10 members, now has over
200 members.
• Has for some years published Guidelines of Good Practice in
Quality Assurance; latest edition August 2007. Specifically
addressed to External Quality Assurance and Accreditation
Agencies (EQAAs).
• Consistent with other guidelines; notably those of the ENQA
(European Network of EQA bodies)
• Been adopted by many agencies as a yardstick against which
to judge their own policies and procedures
www.inqaahe.org
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The Guidelines - 1
1. Governance.
Ownership and governance structure should be
appropriate for the objectives of the agency
Practical Implications – relationship with government,
independence of EQAA especially in the making of
“academic judgement.”
2. Resources
- Should have adequate human and financial resources
for day to day operations and for development
Practical implications – how funded?
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The Guidelines - 2
3. QA of the EQAA
Needs a continuous system of QA for own activities
and should be subject to external review at regular
intervals
Practical implications – how best to do?
4. Reporting Public Information
Discloses its criteria etc and its decisions
Practical implications – should full reports of
evaluations be made publicly available?
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The Guidelines - 3
5. The relationship between EQAAs and Higher
Education Institutions (HEIs)
EQAAs (and others) should recognise that quality is the
responsibility of the HEI and that EQAA should
contribute to quality enhancement as well as
accountability.
Practical implication – how best deal with system
where HEIs exhibit very different degrees of maturity?
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The Guidelines -4
6 The EQAA’s requirements for institutional/programme
performance
The EQAA should make clear of its expectations
(sometimes described as standards, factors, precepts)
which should address all areas that fall within the EQAAs
scope including teaching, learning, research, community
work etc and necessary resources. May also include
specific learning goals
Practical implications – how specific should these be, how
are they established and how should specific learning
goals be specified?
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The Guidelines -5
7. The EQAA’s requirements re Institutional SelfEvaluation
- EQAA needs to explain to institutions (and
others) the self-evaluation process
- Should apply standards and criteria that have
been subject to reasonable consultation with
stakeholders
- The process should contribute to quality
improvement.
Practical implication – how balance the interests of
different stakeholders?
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The Guidelines -6
8 The EQAA’s Evaluation of the institution and/or
programme
- EQAA should publish standards used, assessment
methods, and decision criteria. Should specify
approaches to selection and training of reviewers.
Should ensure institutions are evaluated in an
equivalent way. Where practicable panels should
include one reviewer from another jurisdiction.
Practical implications – include how best ensure
equivalence
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The Guidelines -7
9 Decisions
An EQAA must be independent i.e. has autonomous
responsibility for its operations and its judgements should
not be influenced by third parties. When the EQAA
advises governments or other public bodies the decisions
of each agency should be made as independently as
practicable
Practical implications – how best to ensure independence
of decision making (how best balance with needs of
government). Is it realistic to expect that the EQAA can
have complete autonomy about its style of operation?
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The Guidelines - 8
10 Appeals
The EQAA should have appropriate methods and
policies for appeals. Appeals should be
conducted by those not responsible for the
original decision but appeals should not
necessarily be conducted outside the EQAA.
Practical implications – should there be an
external court of appeal, how best to avoid a
situation where there are many appeals?
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Summary of the GGP
Funders
-Take their money but not their instructions. But
talk to them as well as to other stakeholders.
Do unto yourself that you do unto others
-Establish effective systems of internal and external
quality assurance for the agency
The public (broader community)
-Speak to it.
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My thanks for your attention.
I very much look forward to the discussion.
Richard Lewis
[email protected]
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References
Campbell and Rozsnyai, 2002, Quality Assurance and the Development of Course
Programmes. Papers on Higher Education Regional University Network on Governance
and Management of Higher Education in South East Europe Bucharest, UNESCO.
CHEA, 2001, CHEA web site, http://www.chea.org section on “International Quality
Review”, CHEA glossary of terms
ENQA 2005, Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher
Education Area, European Association for Quality assurance in Higher Education,
Helsinki
HEC 2003, Handbook of Accreditation, Higher Education Commission, Chicago
Vlãsceanu, L., Grünberg, L., and Pârlea, D., 2004, Quality Assurance and Accreditation:
A Glossary of Basic Terms and Definitions (Bucharest, UNESCO-CEPES)
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