Quality Assurance and Enhancement Office
QUALITY IS NOT AN ACT IT IS A HABIT /Aristotle/
By: Addis Mekonnen
Quality is no longer perceived as an institutional internal matter but as one which is of concern to various stakeholders both internally and externally. The existence of Quality Assurance (QA) system establishes a sense of accountability and clarifies the roles and responsibilities of providers of higher education staffs including administrative, academic, students and other stakeholders in ensuring that programs of study and their related support infrastructure are of the highest standards. It takes into account the method through which students’ learning will be managed and supported and how resources will effectively be utilized to support the institution’s growth and well-being.
Accreditation is a form of external quality assurance process under which services and operations of educational institutions or programs are evaluated by an external body (accrediting agency) to determine if applicable standards are met. Accreditation is both a status and a process. As a status, accreditation provides public notification that an institution or program meets standards of quality set forth by an accrediting agency (HERQA). As a process, accreditation reflects the fact that in achieving recognition by the accrediting agency, the institution or program is committed to self-study and external review in seeking not only to meet standards but to continuously seek ways in which to enhance the quality of education and training provided. Generally accreditation is important to higher education institution as it:
Helps advance standards and promote excellence,Provides means for on-going self-assessment and continuous improvement,
Enhances reputation and creates public accountability,
Supports the obtainment of financial aid and support and the establishment of international cooperation,
Helps students determine acceptable institutions to pursue their education,
Assists institutions in determining acceptability of transfer credits,
Helps employers determine the validity of programs of study and whether a graduate is qualified.
Accreditation is inextricably linked to institutional and educational system improvement and quality assurance. The accreditation process asks institutions and systems to critically evaluate their vision, strategies, priorities, leadership, programs and resources. The process of earning and maintaining accreditation provides institutions and educational systems with clear and compelling direction for implementing changes to move towards excellence.
As a result of the above, Higher Education Institutions started looking at ways to improve their internal quality by establishing internal QA system, developing integrated quality management systems, and conducting self-assessment to ensure their readiness for both national and in certain cases for international accreditation’s. In seeking to gain credible recognition educational institutions are emphasizing on the development and implementation of best practice applications covering all the facets associated with program design, delivery and management, infrastructural support and integrated performance evaluation and follow up.