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Updated: 03/11/2014 11:11, Counter: 2088

AUN-QA BASED QUALITY ASSESSMENT AT PROGRAMME LEVEL:

ROLE AND IMPACT

 

1.             Higher education and quality assessment

Higher education plays a crucial role in the social – economic development of any countries. While pursuing their missions, universities, therefore have to pay attentions to two objectives: quality and accountability. The first objective focuses on the quality assurance and improvement processes in order to provide good services; while the second one aims at guaranteeing the quality of the services provided to society.

The concept of quality is not new since it has been a part of the academic tradition. In recent year, it attracts much attention because of profound changes in higher education context including the growth in the numbers of universities and diversity in quality.

Since the date of establishment, the Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology (HCMUT), Vietnam National University – Ho Chi Minh has been aware of its responsibility to the social – economic development of the country by nurturing talents and providing high qualified human resources. Moreover, it is also the science research and technology transfer center which provides information, applications of advanced technologies and technologies transfers to concerning industrial zones.

The quality improvement involves programmes, activities that are implemented continuously at the institute while the accountability requires a certification from a third party – a national, or regional, or worldwide well-known accreditation agencies. The HCMUT, therefore, is one of pioneers in seeking accreditation for both institutional and programme levels.

2.             Some achievements on accreditation of HCMUT

In 2005, the HCMUT was one of the first ten universities assessed and certified by the Ministry of Education and Training (MOET). The MOET assessment based on 10 standards and 61 criteria including (1) Mission and institutional objectives; (2) Organization and Management; (3) Training programs; (4) Training activities; (5) Leaders, and academic and supportive staffs; (6) Students; (7) Research and technology transfer; (8) International activities; (9) Library, equipement, and infrastructure; (10) Financial management. These standards cover almost quality aspects of the university; However, it does not go in depth in the quality of a certain specific training program which is the core component in the implementing the mission of training high qualified human resource.

Together with the mentioned above analysis and the direction of Vietnam National University – Ho Chi Minh, in 2009, the Electronic and Telecommunication Program of HCMUT (one of the first programs in Vietnam) was assessed and certified according to AUN-QA standards (ASEAN University Network – Quality Assurance). AUN-QA, which was established under the auspices of the ASEAN University Network (AUN), and is the de facto regional quality assurance agency for higher education in ASEAN. It aims at fostering the quality assurance at universities in the region and the mobility of students throughout qualified member universities.  

Until now, the HCMUT has six programs assessed according to AUN-QA, in which four of them are certified and the two other are waiting for the result because they were just assessed in October 2014.

Some achievements on accreditation of the HCMUT are shown as in the following Figure.

 

3.             Accreditation at program level based on AUN-QA

The quality assessment process based on AUN-QA standards includes three main stages: (1) Exploring the standards; (2) Conducting Self assessment and writing Self assessment report; (3) External assessment. In which, the first stage aims at understanding deeply standards’ requirements. The second stage is a very important phase of the quality assessment process because the program chairman has to review the whole process starting from the point of curriculum design to the implementation and operation of the curriculum to clarify whether it meets the stakeholders’ requirements effectively and efficiently or not. By conducting this activity, the strengths and weaknesses are revealed; Consequently, improvement activities and programs should be in place to assure the committed quality.

AUN-QA standards:

1.     Expected learning outcomes

2.     Programme specification

3.     Programme structure and content

4.     Teaching and learning strategy

5.     Student assessment

6.     Academic staff quality

7.     Support staff quality

8.     Student quality

9.     Student advice and support

10. Facility and infrastructure

11. Quality assurance of teaching and learning

12. Staff development activities

13. Stakeholder feeback

14. Output

15. The feedback from stakeholders is satisfactory.

The external assessment aims at two major objectives: first, outside experts will help the university determine the strengths and weaknesses objectively; and second, as a result the program is certified by trusted agency. In other words, they confirm the accountability of the program and the university to the society.

The general assessment procedure includes four steps: (1) Register to the AUN; (2) Conducting self assessment; (3) Desktop assessment and Site visit; (4) Certify the qualified program.

AUN adopted a 7-point rating scale for its quality assessment. The scaling aims to offer the universities and external assessors an instrument for scaling their verdicts and to see how far they have progressed on the way to meeting the criteria and to see how far quality is assured. The meaning of the value in the 7-point scoring scale is as follows.

 

Score

Value meaning

Quality meaning

1

nothing (no documents, no plans, no evidence) present

absolutely inadequate; immediate improvements must be made

2

this subject is in the planning stage

inadequate, improvements necessary

3

documents available, but no clear evidence that they are used

inadequate, but minor improvements will make it adequate

4

documents available and evidence that they are used

adequate as expected (meeting the AUN-QA guidelines and criteria)

5

clear evidence on the efficiency of the aspect

better than adequate (exceeding the AUN-QA guidelines and criteria)

6

example of best practices

example of best practices

7

excellent (world-class or leading practices)

excellent (world-class or leading practices)

 

Until now, the HCMUT has received six assessment delegations involving experts from distinguish universities in the regions such as National University of Singapore Chulalongkorn University, Mahidol University, University of Malaya, University of De La Salle .... Among the six programs, four are certified and the two other programs were recently assessed on October 2014 with much good feedback from the assessors.

Based on assessment results of assessed programs according to 15 standards (as shown in the above figure) some comments are drawn:

 

(1)   All programs are qualified according to the standards. In which:

-          The Output (Standard 14) and Stakeholder satisfaction (Standard 15) are always assessed as better than adequate.

-          Academic staff quality (Standard 6) is also assessed at a high score (over 4).

-          Specially, Student quality (Standard 6) is assessed as an example of best practice (score of 6).

(2)          The quality assessment activity plays a critical impact to the quality assurance and improvement of the programme in particular and the university as a whole. For instance, drawn back to the previous year, the concept of Program specification (Standard 2) was rather new to the universities in Viet Nam in general and HCMUT in particular, the score of this standard was quite limited.  Through the time, it is used in the university and assessed as better than adequate. Similarly, for Staff development activities (Standard 12) if we could not provide clearly evidences that they were in place in the first visits, recently, these activities are assessed above adequate (above 4).

4.             Conclusions and commments

With previous analysis, it can be said that the quality assessment in general which based on AUN-QA in particular has a certain role and positive impact to the quality assurance and improvement of the HCMUT. To obtain these certain achievements on accreditation, it must be mentioned the efforts, contribution, and commitment of the leaders, academic and support staff; as well as students.  

However, quality assurance is not a destination but a journey and in this trip, the quality culture plays a major role. In order to create and maintain quality culture, besides the mentioned above efforts, HCMUT need an internal quality assurance system in which quality policy, mechanism and quality instrument are well defined. HCMUT, therefore, step by step develops their internal quality assurance system. 

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