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Internal and external institutional quality assurance … a healthy tension?. Dr Chris Haslam Dean of Corporate Planning and Development University of Chester, United Kingdom. 2nd Conference on Internal Quality Assurance at Higher Education Institutions

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slide1

Internal and external institutional quality assurance … a healthy tension?

Dr Chris Haslam

Dean of Corporate Planning and Development

University of Chester, United Kingdom

2nd Conference on Internal Quality Assurance at

Higher Education Institutions

30th November & 1st December 2006, Bern (Switzerland)

slide2

Ich danke Ihnen herzlich für Ihre Einladung, hier vor Ihrer Konferenz sprechen zu dürfen.Die Vorträge waren alle sehr interessant und ich hoffe, dass dieser Vortrag auch Diskussionen und Debatten anregt.Es tut mir leid, dass mein Deutsch und Französisch leider nicht gut genug sind, diesen Vortrag ganz auf Deutsch zu halten – es würde den ganzen Tag dauern. Ich hoffe deshalb, dass Sie meinen Beitrag auf Englisch akzeptieren.Bitte unterbrechen Sie mich, wenn Sie etwas nicht verstehen oder möchten, dass ich etwas wiederhole.

Wir sollten nicht die Fehler finden, sondern die LösungenHenry Ford

scope of session
Scope of session
  • The UK’s external quality assurance framework
  • The effect of external review on internal quality assurance and enhancement systems
  • Pre-requisites for external and internal institutional quality assurance?
uk drivers for quality assurance
UK drivers for quality assurance
  • To facilitate national and international benchmarking
  • To inform interested stakeholders … who are increasingly demanding value for money
  • To secure consistency and comparability in baseline standards
  • To stimulate product enhancement … and a raising of standards
  • For accountability purposes (income c.41 billion CHF employing c.1.2% of the total UK workforce)
  • Protection (and marketing) of the reputation of UK higher education in a global marketplace
the uk quality assurance landscape principles
The UK quality assurance landscape: principles
  • Responsibility for assuring quality and standards resides with each institution
  • Published sector-wide student surveys
  • An external institutional-level review system … with publication of information about quality and standards (direct cost c.34 million CHF per year)
  • Implementation of a UK ‘academic infrastructure’
the uk s academic infrastructure
The UK’s ‘Academic Infrastructure’
  • A qualifications framework setting out the attributes of each award level
  • Subject benchmark statements
  • A requirement for institutions to publish a detailed specification for each study programme …. a contract of engagement?
  • A Code of Practice for quality assurance
the uk s academic infrastructure8
The UK’s ‘Academic Infrastructure’

A Code of Practice for quality assurance

- Postgraduate research programmes

- Collaborative provision

- Students with disabilities

- External examining

- Academic appeals and complaints

- Student assessment

- Programme approval, monitoring and review

- Career education, information and guidance

- Placement learning

- Recruitment and admissions

slide9

Closing the loop … ?

Internal institutional

quality assurance and

enhancement

‘The UK Academic Infrastructure’

6yr

institutional

audit

reports

Code of

Practice

Programme

Specifications

Qualifications

Framework

Subject

Statements

Higher Education

Academy

(QE activity)

External quality

assurance organisation

(Quality Assurance Agency)

slide11
Growth in the quality assurance ‘business’ … QA Units, ISO9001, EFQM

Extensive quality assurance frameworks detailed through regulations, ordinances, handbooks and manuals

Establishment of quality and standards (or similar) deliberative committees at institutional and, increasingly, at sub-unit level

slide12
Increased engagement with students and other stakeholders … questionnaires, focus groups, consumer feedback mechanisms, alumni tracking
  • Accurate marketing of programmes … expectation management
  • More careful programme design, delivery and assessment … improved student retention, progression and achievement
slide13
Enhanced peer involvement (UK and overseas) in programme design, assessment and review … a more robust product with greater consistency of standards
  • Clear publication of procedures, expectations and commitments … mitigating potential litigation?
slide14
But … some frequently asked questions …
  • Are detailed quality assurance frameworks improving product design, delivery and outcomes … or stifling creativity and dynamism?
  • Are internal quality assurance systems becoming increasingly over engineered … and, critically, eroding ownership amongst the academic community?
  • How does management strike an appropriate balance between ‘control’ and promoting academic freedom?
slide16
Has provided public reassurance both in the UK and overseas … other countries have followed the UK approach
  • Students and other stakeholders do have a much stronger voice and opportunities to exert a positive influence
  • The number of external audit ‘failures’ is very low (… but …)
slide17
Must offer value for money … and test reality not an artificial image of desired reality
  • Reports must be clear, timely and accessible to a variety of audiences … the benefits of ‘learning from’ publications
  • External organisations and their reviewers must have recognised expertise and up-to-date understanding of institutions
  • Should external quality assurance offer formal, as opposed to implied, accreditation?
slide19
Quality assurance framework needs to be owned … ‘what’s in it for me?’
  • Avoid over-engineering and bureaucracy … a small quality committee with cross-institutional representation
  • Essential to quickly disseminate good and poor practice … from both internal and external review processes
slide20
Establish clear action plans … possibly linked to business planning cycles
  • Self assessments must be reflective and critical … not bland statements of fact. Encourage openness … there should be no surprises
  • Sustained commitment at senior level to QA and QE
  • Ensure intervention is in inverse proportion to risk
in conclusion
In conclusion …
  • Evidence to suggest that external reviews do make a positive difference
  • Institutions are more self critical and their processes are more explicit, transparent and consistent

… but it is also important that the cost/benefit balance is correct …

  • External and internal review needs to be in proportion to perceived risk
  • … need to remember that students’ interests come first
slide22
Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to try and find a successful outcome acceptable to all that counts.

Winston Churchill

contact information
Contact information

Dr Chris Haslam

Dean of Corporate Planning and Development

University of Chester

Parkgate Road

Chester

CH1 4BJ

Telephone: +44 (0) 1244 513208

(Switchboard +44 (0) 1244 511000)

Email: c.haslam@chester.ac.uk

Web address: http://www.chester.ac.uk