Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Role of Faculty in the provision of Quality Education

Almost all the Pakistani universities have a QA department. The major role of this QA is to prepare programs for Self-Assessment Report (SAR) using certain standards as provided by Quality Assurance agency (QAA), Pakistan. A group of faculty prepares this report called Self-Assessment Report which is evaluated by a panel of experts. This self-assessment mechanism is in line with international practices. The major issue in this exercise is to take faculty on board. Most of them believe it to be the job of QA department and ask QA to facilitate at each level. Recently, I was invited by hashtagILMA University, Pakistan to deliver a session on "Role of Faculty in Quality Assurance.” The crux of my talk was quite straight. “[Faculty] ignore what is required by QA department. Rather focus on developing and strengthening Internal Quality Assurance (IQA). If IQA cycle is well thought of and runs smoothly through FACULTY, they do not have to run for data and words to write program Self Assessment Report (SAR).” Universities need to establish IQA mechanism with direct involvement of faculty as this develops ownership and produces the desired results. How do you see the role of faculty in Quality Assurance??? hashtaghec hashtagquality hashtag#hec #quality #university #education #faculty

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Impact Ranking of Higher Education Institutions

Times Higher Education has introduced a new ranking of universities called “ THE University Impact Ranking”. It is based on UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). THE regards it the only global performance scoring that assess universities against the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

There are 17 UN SDGs out of which Times Higher Education (THE) evaluates the performance of HEIs on following 11 SDGs in the first edition.
1.      SDG 3 – Good health and well-being
2.      SDG 4 – Quality education
3.      SDG 5 – Gender equality
4.      SDG 8 – Decent work and economic growth
5.      SDG 9 – Industry, innovation, and infrastructure
6.      SDG 10 – Reduced inequalities
7.      SDG 11 – Sustainable cities and communities
8.      SDG 12 – Responsible consumption and production
9.      SDG 13 – Climate action
10.  SDG 16 – Peace, justice and strong institutions
11.  SDG 17 – Partnerships for the goals

Universities which are interested in participation submit data on as many of these SDGs as they are able. Any university that provides data on SDG 17 and at least three other SDGs is included in the overall ranking.
Since this is relatively new and is certainly a very useful ranking, this article outlines how universities can benefit if they decide to participate.
Almost all the Pakistani universities contribute to SDGs but many do not document their contribution. In some case, they do not even realize the impact they have on community. Lets focus on SDG-4, Quality Education. One of the parameter is:
“Does your university as a body undertake educational outreach activities (e.g. tailored lectures or demonstrations) beyond campus, e.g. in local schools, in the community, including voluntary student-run schemes?  
This is a standard practice medical and allied sciences institutions but it is not given any significance and mostly treated as a part of curriculum delivery (Community Medicine). Similarly, general universities do hold such sessions but that is usually owned by a specific department. Universities do not link them with their social responsibilities.
Most importantly, the following is a missing element in many Pakistani Universities:
Does your university as a body have a policy that ensures that access to these activities is accessible to all, regardless of ethnicity, religion, disability or gender?
Having a policy on such areas indicates the commitment of the universities but many institutions do not work for policy in these areas.
Similarly, all indicators of impact ranking are carefully selected, require evidence and need to be supported by policy guidelines at institutional level.
Participation into impact ranking will be open after a couple of months so universities which are desirous for participation have enough time to review their practices and plan actions which would facilitate institutions achieving SDGs in a more effective way.

#highereducation #university #education #impactranking #hec #leadership #rectors

Dr Usmani
February 3, 2020

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Curriculum and Graduate Attributes in Pakistani Higher Education Institutes

A curriculum without graduates attributes/Program learning outcomes is not complete at all. Pakistani HEIs need to understand that the curriculum of various programs, even though provided by regulatory bodies like HEC, must be tailored as per the employers needs. The graduates of the program cannot find specific job market unless their graduates attributes/PLOs are documented. Recently, I was invited as a panelist in hashtagSZABIST International Conference. The panel discussed the “Scope of Applied Linguistics in the Contemporary World”. I emphasized the same notion of documenting and assessing the graduate attributes systematically.
hashtagszabist hashtageducation hashtaguniversity hashtaghec hashtagcurriculu
m hashtagassessment hashtagjsmu

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Registering a Qualification with SAQF (Saudi Arabia Qualification Framework)

In my previous article (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/understanding-saudi-arabia-qualification-framework-saqf-usmani/) , I introduced SAQF mentioning that it has standards for institutions and program and that the institutions in the Kingdom have to take accreditation with SAQF and later they have to get their Qualifications (programs) registered by following certain standards.
In this article, I am going to discuss how a qualification may be registered under Saudi Arabia Qualification Framework. There are seven standards to meet in order to register a qualification. I have discussed them in brief with some conclusion at the end.
Standard-1 Eligibility: As mentioned before that applicants for qualification registration are required to register the institute first to make sure that providers of qualification have adequate resources to offer the qualifications.
Standard-2  Stakeholders Involvement: It is a common observation that many programs are prepared by a small group of faculty members borrowing contents from various sources. SAQF requires program to provide evidence as to how stakeholders were taken on board for preparation and review of the program. This guarantees that a program is based on market needs.
Standard-3 Qualification Purpose: This standard requires program to provide evidence that the program is based on market needs and has specific objectives to contribute to society. This is where the programs would face challenges as objectives need to be focused and measurable in the long run.
Standard-4 Qualification Title: This standard requires program to keep the title of the program in line with specific level of SAQF. This standard makes sure that all the qualifications offered in the kingdom are in line with national policy guidelines.
Standard-5 Qualification Components: This standard is quite crucial and challenging as it requires program to set learning outcomes of courses and program in line with SAQF levels. That means program and course learning outcomes should clearly identify the knowledge, skills and competencies to be achieved.  
Standard-6 Assessment of Learning Outcomes: This is the most significant standard as it makes it mandatory for the program to provide evidence of assessment of learning outcomes at the level of the program as well as at the level of courses in the program. This is quite challenging as the faculty in most cases is not trained enough to link assessment practices with learning outcomes. This standard would make it mandatory for each program to assess PLOs through direct and indirect assessment measures.
Standard-7: Entry Requirements, Progression and Transfer: This standard requires program to categorically mention the entry requirements and the policy of credit transfer in case a student moves from one institution to another for any reason.

Looking at these standards and looking at the standards for institutional registration it appears that these are the common yet not practiced standards. If implemented in letter and spirit, it would bring lasting impact on education sector in the Kingdom. Although SAQF is taking its roots though workshops at different institutions, they need to make an independent and interactive website with helpline for technical assistance and technical manuals for those seeking accreditation. This would give them wider visibility and it will attract more institutions to come into its folder for registration
Though I have provided a detailed introduction of the standards, feel free to get back to me for any assistance you may need for further understanding of SAQF standards.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Understanding Saudi Arabia Qualification Framework (SAQF)

Saudi Arabian Qualification Framework (SAQF) is a document aiming to integrate education, training and employment in a unified system. It has replaced the old National Qualification Framework (NQF) document. Educational Institutes in the Kingdom are required to register their institutions as well as the qualifications/programs they are offering on a set of standards. This article provides basic understanding of SAQF for an institution seeking accreditation with SAQF. There are two sets of standards i.e. standards for institution, standards for the program.

Standards for Registering Institutions :
The purpose of setting standards for institutions is to make sure that appropriate systems are in place to develop, manage, review and issue qualifications at various institutions in the kingdom.
Once the institutions get registered with SAQF through demonstrating evidence based compliance of standards, they would be eligible to move to the second level i.e. registering qualification (programs).
There are 07 standards for the institution registration. Each standard is further divided into one or more criteria (25 in total). Institutions have to demonstrate compliance to each criterion with specific evidence. SAQF provides guidance on understanding the criteria as well as the possible evidence to support compliance. However, these are just the guidelines and the list of evidence would depend on the institutional context.

1.      Standards for Registration of Qualification :
The purpose of these standards for registration of qualification is to make sure that there are effective systems in place to design, deliver, review and issue a qualification.
Thus all the institutions in the Kingdom are required to get themselves registered first as qualified institute for offering qualification, they would get their programs registered with SAQF by showing compliance to qualification registration standards.
There are 07 standards for the registration of qualification. Each standard is further divided into one or more criteria (21 in total). Institutions have to demonstrate compliance to each criterion with specific evidence. SAQF provides guidance on understanding the criteria as well as the possible evidence to support compliance.
SAQF would certainly bring several positive changes. Institute would review their level of preparation before offering a qualification. Even if the resources are available at the institute, registration of qualification itself would guarantee that the program is well thought-out and has potential to prove its significance to the recipients.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Program-Course Mapping- A must for Faculty

For ages, I wanted to initiate a series of monologue related to higher education Quality. A systematic and didactic piece of writing is never appealing to education community. Thus I decided to take a less formal way of expressing various issues using monologues. The issue might be a known fact for you but this would not be the case for everyone. It is least necessary to agree with what I express here. However, your feedback will certainly help me identify further areas in future.
Being a faculty member, do we ever wonder why the course we are teaching is included in the program? Do we ever ask ourselves how a course is included in a program and how does various courses lead to formulation of a program. In practice, we teach a course because we studied the course in the same or similar program. However, none of us ever wonder how I am contributing to a program. This is mainly because when a program is initiated in any institution, similar programs are reviewed and either the same or similar courses are included in the program. Thus a new program is ready.
Here we need to understand a mechanism called Program-course Matrix (mapping of courses with Program). When a program is designed or proposed, the first thing is to formulate program mission and objectives . These objectives lead to identification of the required competencies/skills/learning outcomes of a specific program. Once Program learning outcomes (PLOs) are identified, courses which will contribute to achieving the learning PLOs are identified and put in a matrix. This mapping matrix decides the place of each course and the level of contribution of the courses. 
This matrix must be provided to each faculty member who is teaching a course so that the faculty may see the role of the course in a program and how the course should be designed to contribute in achieving the program learning outcomes.  
If you are not a faculty member but have some managerial position in institute of higher education, make sure that faculty members are aware of this mapping and have a copy of the same as well. Only in that case, you are entitled to ask them how they are contributing in the overall success of the program.
The next question is, how to achieve the desired role of courses?? Come back again soon with the answer.....................................

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Dos and Dont's of Writing Self Study Report for NCAAA Accreditation

Following are the few dos and donts to be considered while writing Self Study Report for Institutional or program accreditation. They are general but focus more Saudi Higher Education System.

1.       As per format of NCAAA.
a.       Familiar with SSRI and its requirements.
b.      The role of colleges and program in SSRI

2.       Respond to what is asked
a.       Read each section and underline what is required.
b.      Don’t provide or explain what is not asked.

3.       Is logical ( Statements are supported by evidence)
a.       Any claim/good practices/argument must be evidence based.
b.      There should be logical connection between write up and evidence.

4.       Consistent in Data:
a.       figures & numbers are repeated in different sections. They must be the same in all sections.
b.      Better assign data accuracy to a committee and each committee for SSR should consult that committee for data.
5.       Consistent in format, argument and claims.
a.       Each committee must be provided with formatting guidelines like the one in research paper submission.
b.      Reference to evidence must be consistent throughout.

6.       Contains full picture of the program/institution.
a.       While reading SSR, it should provide a complete picture of the institute.

7.       Do get evidence singed by the source.
a.       Keep a file of evidence and get each evidence signed by the provider.
b.      If email, print and keep it in the same file. It is not for NCAAA but for your reference.

8.       Your write up must match your web contents.
a.       Consistent data of website and SSRI
9.       Don’t put too many evidences.
a.       For each standard, decide what is KEY evidence and what is general evidence.
b.      List all KEY evidence and see how many are available

10.   Don’t combine the write up without reading.
a.       There should be coordination committee to combine the write up of each committee.

b.      Each member of Coordination committee must read and see if the write up is consistent.