The purpose of this paper is to discuss how the province over time has addressed problems that are generic to many jurisdictions in assuring quality: level of aggregation, pooling, definition of new and continuing programs, scope of jurisdiction, role of governors, performance indicators, relationship to accreditation, programs versus credentials, benchmarking and isomorphism. The paper will pay particular attention to the balance between institutional autonomy in promoting quality and innovation in contrast to system-wide standards for assuring quality. The Province of Ontario has had some form of quality assurance since 1969. For most of the period since then, there were separate forms for undergraduate and graduate programs. Eligibility for public funding is based on the assurance of quality by a buffer body. In 2010, after two years of work, a province-wide task force devised a new framework.
The structure of the paper is a series of “problem/solution” discussions, for example, aggregation, pooling, isomorphism and jurisdiction.
Some problems are generic, for example, how to define a “new” program. Assuring quality and enhancing quality are fundamentally different in terms of process.
Although many of the problems discussed are generic, the paper is based on the experience of one jurisdiction.
The article will be useful in post-secondary systems seeking to balance autonomy and innovation with central accountability and standardization. It is particularly applicable to undifferentiated systems.
Implications for public policy are mainly about locating the most effective center of gravity between assuring quality and enhancing quality, and between promoting quality and ensuring accountability.
The approach of the discussion and analysis is novel, and the results portable.
Lang, D. (2015), "Self-regulation with rules: Lessons learned from a new quality assurance process for Ontario", Quality Assurance in Education, Vol. 23 No. 3, pp. 216-232. https://doi.org/10.1108/QAE-09-2014-0046Download as .RIS
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