The Significance of Internal Quality Assurance in Higher Educational Institutions
Internal Quality Assurance (IQA) within higher educational institutions (HEIs) has been a most significant topic in recent years as stakeholders expect graduates to be sufficiently equipped to meet job requirements in this modern, technology-ridden world. This presupposes that sufficient IQA mechanisms need to be designed and implemented by HEIs, whether in developed, developing or under-developed countries.
The Erasmus+ IQAinAR Project centres around the aim of enhancing the IQA of Education in teaching, learning and assessment in HEIs of Azerbaijan and Russia. The project, which was officially launched in February this year, is in its 10-month stage and things are going along as planned despite the pandemic. During a virtual meeting on 14 December, three EU project partners, UCAM (Fundacion Universitaria San Antonio) from Spain, Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences from the Netherlands and IUBH (International University of Applied Sciences Bad Honnef) from Germany presented their institutions’ IQA systems and strategies as well as policy documents which are already in place. The main objective of the sharing session is to familiarise the consortium members with the institutional practices of the EU project partners and their success factors in IQA. The session, which was planned to be a physical ‘Study Visit to UCAM’, the Spanish counterpart of the project, had to be carried out virtually instead due to the current pandemic situation.
The sharing of the EU partners’ IQA Systems and Processes was part of the Work Package 2 (WP2) of the project. The goal of WP2 is to develop IQA indicators designed in WP1 by taking into account the specificities of each HEI and the national background in teaching, learning, assessment and research. It is basically to enable consortium partners to learn new methodologies for the improvement of their own IQA models, tools for self-analysis and models to help them imagine how to refine existing processes. As a result of this learning, and with the intention to improve the common educational space and harmonise it in compliance with the Bologna agreement, the consortium will develop an international IQAS with a focus on student mobility and internalisation of education, thereby helping the Russian and Azerbaijani HEI partners to improve student mobility programmes, make them transparent and remove the existing obstacles in this area.
Sharing of IQA Processes at UCAM, Wittenborg and IU
UCAM representative, Almudena Vicente Buendia, presented her institution's IQA system design and implementation, which has to be in line with the regulation set by ANECA, the National Agency for Quality Assessment and Accreditation of Spain. Following that, Dr Rauf Abdul, Head of School of Business, presented Wittenborg’s IQA system, which includes an explanation of Wittenborg’s strategic initiatives, quality flow, its evaluation cycle as well as its programme development processes. Assurance of Learning Manager Kriszta Kaspers presented the Assurance of Learning process map and how IQA is monitored and evaluated at Wittenborg. IU representative Thorsten Schomann then took over the floor and presented ways on how to implement IQA system in individual institutions.
It was a fruitful session for all involved as the knowledge gained from the various presentations can help the consortium to further improve their own IQA systems and move towards a culture of continuous improvements in the quality of education and teaching and learning. In its true meaning, knowledge is not a static process and learning must be continuous, even in established institutions. To quote K. Patricia Cross, “Learning is not so much an additive process, with new learning simply piling up on top of existing knowledge, as it is an active, dynamic process in which the connections are constantly changing and the structure reformatted.”
by Hanna Abdelwahab