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Emerging systems of educational quality assessment in developing countries
Article Type: Guest editorial From: Quality Assurance in Education, Volume 16, Issue 2.
Quality assurance in education has become an international issue and is receiving an ever increasing focus from all the stakeholders. It becomes increasingly important to look into tools and techniques for the effective implementation of the quality assurance systems adopted by quality conscious educational institutions. Articles in this issue emphasise these aspects. Book reviews presented at the end of this issue also provide a comparative study of functioning of universities in countries with developing and developed economies. These provide thought-provoking ideas on how state and private universities in developing nations can improve their environment for learning and are useful reading for people who wish to know more about the governance and the roles of universities in the case study countries. Thus this special issue focussed on best practices and on case studies for improving quality of education based on the experience/case studies/findings reported by the researchers and practitioners.
In first article Pak Tee Ng highlights three important insights into educational quality assurance, using Singapore as a case study. Firstly, quality assurance development moves through phases, each with its own characteristics and challenges. Secondly, quality assurance changes the nature of education. Thirdly, quality assurance is a paradoxical journey. The paper utilises a phase model to analyse the development of quality assurance, and the challenges and paradoxes involved.
In the following article Fion Choon Boey Lim reports a cross country case study on the understanding Quality Assurance. This paper examines the level of understanding of quality assurance in an Australian university, and its offshore partner institution. It attempts to highlight the dynamics of quality assurance policy implementation within and across institutions for an offshore degree. This study uses interviews as the research method to gather data from the Business school of a university that is a major exporter of higher education degree and its offshore business partner, a Business School of a private university college in Malaysia. The findings show that gaps exist in the current practices of quality assurance measures in Malaysia. In addition, top-level management from both sides of the exchange believe that the university should bear the overall responsibility for quality assurance.
In the next article Peter Hodson, Michael Connolly and Said Younes examine the introduction of a quality assurance system in a new, private university in Syria, and consider the extent to which the theoretical model based on institutional theory and isomorphism is reflected in practice. The authors report on the issues faced when introducing a quality assurance system in a private Syrian university, recognising the cultural and political context.
In the next article John Chi-kin Lee, Daoyong Ding and Huan Song discuss recent developments in school developmental and supervisory evaluation in the Pudong New Area of Shanghai in the Chinese Mainland. The main research approach used in this paper is qualitative, using documentary analysis and interviews of an inspector, principals and teachers from two primary schools. The findings revealed that there were perceived positive and negative impacts of school supervision and evaluation. The implications for fostering a shared school-government community of school supervision and evaluation, promoting a dynamic approach for addressing contextual differences, as well as achieving better coherence among educational reform, supervision and evaluation policies are discussed.
In the next article Timothy Manyaga describes the need to provide quality assurance at tertiary qualifications in Tanzania to win both national and international recognition. In the paper, processes of registration of institutions capable of delivering training programmes adequately, and accreditation of the same to offer awards at appropriate levels as a means to ensure quality of provision are explored. Standards of good practice in Tanzanian tertiary education are surveyed and the challenges to their achievement are discussed based on the author’s direct experience in Tanzania.
The international team of David Gamage, Jaratdao Suwanabroma,Takeyuki Ueyama, Sekio Hada and Etsuo Sekikawa in their next article focus on the impact of the leadership of private universities in Japan and Thailand to improve their standing and student satisfaction by ensuring quality of academic programs, university services and physical facilities. Comparative analyses in their study show some interesting similarities and differences in student perceptions between the two systems. The methodology adopted by the authors, included empirical surveys of students with 1-4 years of campus experience with a well validated questionnaire, involving 1900 Thai and 703 Japanese students. The instrument was developed based on factors that influenced enrolments in a particular university, as identified by students.
In the book review section, Fion Choon Boey Lim looks at the book, “Transforming research universities in Asia and Latin America - World class worldwide” which is based on the premise that research universities are central to the modernization and development of less well developed nations. It provides thought provoking ideas on how state universities in developing nations can improve their environment for research and is a useful reading for people who wish to know more about the challenges, corporate governance and roles of state universities in the case study countries. But the reviewer concludes that beyond providing a good background, scholars or administrators who are looking for information on policy reformulation or on ways to reorganize and restructure their universities will find few answers.
In the final book review Jay Dee looks at the book edited by Philip Altbach and Toru Umakoshi: “Asian universities: Historical perspectives and contemporary challenges”. First, trend which emerges is that many Asian nations are dealing with the challenge of maintaining a delicate balance between accountability and autonomy. Secondly, there is clear evidence of rapid emergence of partnerships with industry indicating a vast scope academic capitalism in Asia. Finally, seven of the world’s ten largest distance education institutions are located in Asia. But one does not get a clear indication of the effect of such a massification on the standard and diversity of higher education. Overall, the reviewer finds that while most of the chapters in the volume provide detailed historical synopses of higher education development in specific countries, such an approach however, tends to preclude an integrated analysis of critical contemporary challenges for Asian higher education.
Finally, our team hopes that the articles included in this issue will provide some ideas about quality practices and techniques adopted by different educational institutions for improving the standard of education.
Niaz AhmedGuest Editor