03 février 2013

APQN 2013 Conference, April 7-8, Chinese Taipei

The APQN 2013 Conference and AGM will be hosted by the Taiwan Assessment and Evaluation Association (TWAEA) in Chinese Taipei in April 7 to 8, 2013, which is in the same venue with the 2013 INQAAHE Conference in April 8-11, 2013.
The main theme of the 2013 Asia-Pacific Quality Network Conference is: Has external QA made an impact? Looking back at the decade of Quality assurance. The sub-themes are:
• Has EQA made real impact on Quality in higher educational institutions?
• Innovations in quality assurance
• Quality Assurance and student mobility
• Do we need Regional and International accreditation?
• Living with national and global rankings- what is the response of QA community?
• Promoting Quality assurance in higher education as a profession- Learning from Industry
• Internal quality assurance
• Student engagement in QA
In addition, a number of topics will be covered in the workshops and parallel sessions. Following is the indicative list of the topics that will be of interest to the APQN members:
• Assuring Quality of Distance and e-learning programs
• Benchmarking and making of world class universities
• Developing Quality Information Systems
You are invited to present a paper on a topic of your choice related to one of the topics above. Ideas for topics can be drawn from the list of theme and sub-themes, or can be of your own choice. Please indicate how your selected topic relates to the theme of the Conference.
Please find the Call for Contribution here. And send your submission to fangle666@gmail.com and administrator@apqn.org by February 15, 2013. The online registration has been opened on the page: http://www.apqn.org/events/.

Posté par pcassuto à 01:10 - - Permalien [#]
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Transparency of European higher education through public quality assurance reports - EQArep

ENQA has recently obtained funding for a LLP/Erasmus proposal. The two-year project started on 1 October and will end on 30 September 2014. The project, entitled “Transparency of European higher education through public quality assurance reports” (EQArep), aims at developing European standards for quality assurance reports.
The consortium of the project includes ENQA (as applicant and coordinator), the Swiss Center of Accreditation and Quality Assurance in HE (OAQ), the Irish Universities Quality Board (IUQB), the Agency for Science and Higher Education (ASHE) and the Estonian Higher Education Quality Agency (EKKA).
The project will map the current publication practices, explore the different needs of stakeholders for transparent and comparable information, develop standards for different types of quality assurance reports in the EHEA and evaluate whether a European template for quality assurance reports is feasible.
The project will result in a recommendation to quality assurance agencies on the content and form of informative and approachable quality assurance reports. Thus the envisaged impact is a higher degree of comparability of quality assurance reports and consequently a better contribution of quality assurance to transparency of higher education at the European level.

Posté par pcassuto à 01:07 - - Permalien [#]
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Enhancement of Quality Assurance Management in Jordanian Universities - EQuAM

The University of Barcelona is launching a new project entitled "Enhancement of Quality Assurance Management in Jordanian Universities" (EQuAM), in partnership with ENQA and 15 other higher education bodies.
A model (principles, priorities, guidelines and procedures) will be produced to support Jordanian HEIs and their quality assurance unit to improve internal QA in line with the new requirements of the national HE Accreditation Council and international expectations. The Model will be based on analyses of needs and capacities in Jordanian HEIs, as well as the experiences and best practices from the successful QA Action Line of the Bologna Process. Workshops, consultations and “matching” exercises will contribute relevant material from Jordanian and European HEIs and QA agencies. The Model will be piloted in Jordanian HEIs and complemented by training and capacity building to support its sustainability. European experiences in building productive relationships between HEIs and their QA agencies will inform the effective implementation of the Model and reflect the importance of autonomous HEIs meeting national/international expectations whilst working in different contexts.

Posté par pcassuto à 01:05 - - Permalien [#]
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ACA European Policy Seminars: From Brussels to India

On 24 January, ACA held the 2013 edition of its popular What’s new in Brussels? seminar. Despite admitting the record number of 150 participants, the event was oversubscribed. We apologise to those who did not manage to get a place anymore.
The seminar presented participants with the state of play in the legislative process over the Erasmus for all Programme and its counterpart in the field of research, Horizon 2020, amongst others. The news came right from the lion’s mouth, i.e. key staff of the European Commission, such as Director Jordi Curell. Some participants deplored that agreement on some key issues – not least of which the budget – had still not been reached between the member state governments and the European Parliament. One highlight of the seminar was the presentation of the work of NGO Empower European Universities, by former Dutch education minister and World-Bank Vice-President Jo Ritzen.  ACA held the seminar in a new venue, where all 2013 seminars are going to take place.
The second ACA European Policy Seminar is going to take place soon, on 14 March. It is going to be devoted to recent developments in Indian higher education and cooperation between India and Europe. One of the many distinguished speakers will be Phil Baty, the editor at large of Times Higher Education, who is also in charge of the global league table of Times Higher Education.  Registrations were opened two weeks ago. Coming soon is also the ACA annual conference, which will take place in The Hague (the Netherlands) from 9 to 11 June. Registrations will open soon.
ACA – What’s new in Brussels
ACA – Higher Education in India: Recent developments and relations with Europe.

Posté par pcassuto à 00:57 - - Permalien [#]
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Irish Council Presidency: Fighting to avoid a lost generation

In the first half of this year, Ireland will hold the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, taking over from Cyprus. It is already the seventh time that Ireland takes on this task. Ensuring sustainable growth and jobs is the overall aim of the Irish Presidency. Education is to support this effort. Ireland’s Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairi Quinn, said that he was “determined to work towards preventing the development of a lost generation with negative long-term personal and social consequences that would have for all Europeans.”  In line with this, the ‘social dimension’ of higher education and improved access to higher education, especially for students from less privileged backgrounds and non-traditional learners, will be a key concern for the Irish Presidency. Ireland will work towards achieving the EU headline target of a 40% tertiary graduation rate among the 30-34 year-olds by 2020.
On the legislative front, Ireland aims to finish the work on Erasmus for all, with the respective Regulation. It also aims for a decision on the Strategic Innovation Agenda of the European Institute of Innovation and technology (EIT), a Regulation on the European Social Fund and the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (with a focus on youth), and a new Directive on the recognition of professional education.
Irish Presidency - Programme
Irish Presidency – Education Priorities

Posté par pcassuto à 00:54 - - Permalien [#]

02 février 2013

Response to BIS consultation on alternative providers published

HEFCE logoIn November 2012, The Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) published a consultation document on applying student number controls to alternative providers with designated courses. Download HEFCE’s response to the consultation.
HEFCE response to BIS consultation on ‘Applying Student Number Controls to Alternative Providers with Designated Courses’

1. HEFCE welcomes the proposed improvements to the course designation framework, and in particular the benefits it will have for students and the reputation of alternative providers. More robust and transparent checks will offer greater assurances to students, impact positively on student choice and enhance the high-quality provision of the English higher education sector generally.
2. We also support the rationale for creating a more level playing field of regulation between providers. We believe that the new designation system will go some way towards achieving this and, in the absence of legislation, creating a single regulatory framework. In our view, the new criteria will help to protect student interests more effectively than the current system. Introducing student number controls for alternative providers will offer more assurance that funding (in the form of student loans) is being used appropriately. However, we have concerns about the different regulatory models being proposed and what this will mean for protecting student interests and fair access, as well as practical issues about operability and timing, which are outlined in more detail below.
3. Overall, we support the direction of travel set out in the consultation document but consider that more could be said about how the Government’s original ambitions, as set out in the 2011 White Paper ‘Students at the Heart of the System’, will be achieved.
4. The consultation questions are predominantly aimed at alternative providers; therefore we have decided not to respond to the questions, but to highlight some key points of principle.
Different regulatory models

5. The revised approach being taken means that there will be a different regulatory system for alternative providers compared with that of the existing publicly funded sector. This poses a risk as it will result in different levels of assurance and accountability. Our response outlines a number of differences, and it will be important that these are clearly articulated to ensure that students and the general public are informed of the levels of assurance available and how these differ between providers. We believe that some form of information gateway about the differences should be developed, which would create greater public transparency. The HEFCE web-site could potentially be used for this purpose and we would be keen to work with BIS to try and develop such a gateway.
6. In the longer term, we would very much support a move to a single regulatory framework as originally envisaged in the 2011 White Paper. This would address any anomalies between the two systems, thus helping to level the playing field and offer a more consistent approach to safeguarding student interest and choice. We believe that a consistent approach would also have benefits for alternative providers, enabling them to be seen as equals in a competitive HE sector and part of its high-quality brand.
Student protection

7. While the current proposals appear to provide greater ‘protection’ to students compared with the present system, they do not achieve the levels of protection set out in the 2011 White Paper. For example, while BIS is suggesting alternative providers voluntarily subscribe to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator, there is no formal requirement for them to do so. Nor is there any requirement to publish robust and comparable information for students. There would be benefits in considering whether subscription to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator could in some way be made compulsory, and also whether more information could be made available to prospective students (perhaps through Key Information Sets). This approach would ensure that students at alternative providers have access to the same routes of appeal and public information as students studying at HEFCE-funded providers.
Social mobility

8. We note that students studying on designated courses at alternative providers are unable to access tuition fee loans above £6,000 a year, though they may be charged a higher amount. This is not comparable to the financial support given to students in the publicly funded sector. While, on the face of it, there may be less need for financial control, due to the lower levels of public financial exposure, the cap on loans means that alternative providers are not required to hold access agreements with the Office for Fair Access. As a result there is no formal mechanism for promoting and monitoring fair access to alternative providers. It is important that the social mobility objective set out in the White Paper is monitored and assessed, in particular the equality impact on certain groups including those from less advantaged backgrounds.
Student number controls

9. While we support the move to align the controls with the existing sector, there are differences in the operations of the proposed systems for publicly funded and alternative providers. The proposed methods set out in the consultation document currently lack detail as to how the number control will be implemented in practice. The methods proposed for setting and monitoring student number controls need to be carefully examined for unintended consequences. This is particularly true of Method 2, which is very different from HEFCE’s current approach and therefore has not been tested. BIS needs to ensure that this method does not conflict with the student interest – there is a risk, for example, that it could incentivise institutions to discourage students from claiming student support.
10. There will need to be further consideration given as to how any additional student numbers are allocated between new and existing alternative providers. It is not clear whether any change to student number controls for alternative providers would impact on the publicly supported sector and vice versa. In addition to the allocation of student numbers there will need to be confirmation about whether any processes, such as core and margin or high grades policy (or similar), will be put in place to allow new providers to enter the system. Thought also needs to be given to whether alternative providers would have similar flexibility to that of the public sector around the student number controls. The earlier this can be clarified the easier it will be for providers and HEFCE to implement the new system.
11. While we are committed to working with Government to implement the new system of course designation and student number control, we have concerns about the feasibility of fully introducing the new system in 2013-14. For the HEFCE-funded sector we have already announced the student number controls for 2013-14 as institutions will now be making offers to students who intend to begin their studies in September, bearing in mind that the UCAS deadline, of 15 January, has already passed. It would not be possible to give alternative providers this certainty for 2013-14, as the new system will not be in place in time. If it is necessary to introduce student number controls in time for 2013-14, we recommend that a simple method of student number controls is implemented in 2013-14, which can be implemented as quickly as possible, in order to provide some clarity for alternative providers and their students. This could be developed further, if appropriate, in 2014-15.
12. The consultation is clear that student number controls will not apply to non-designated courses, which gives alternative providers the continued freedom to increase privately funded (‘off quota’) student numbers. This freedom is not available to institutions from the existing sector, and may come under challenge at some point. This approach might also work against the objectives of fair access and social mobility.
13. While the consultation is focused on alternative providers, one consequence might be that existing HEFCE-funded institutions look to set up new entities that could follow the alternative provider route to course designation. In the short-term we do not feel this is a significant issue but as the quantum of HEFCE funding for teaching reduces, the incentives for different corporate forms and structures will increase. This might be desirable in some instances but it means that levels of protection for students could reduce.
Transitional issues

14. The transitional arrangements for the existing alternative providers with designated courses will need further development. Considerable thought needs to be given to the impact of an existing alternative provider not meeting the new criteria for course designation, and to the consequences for its students who already access the student finance system. There are some significant implications of, for example, withdrawing course designation yet enabling students to complete their courses of study. The interests of existing students must be paramount in this, and it is not yet clear how such issues will be addressed. We note that BIS is due to publish detailed guidance on the overall designation process, and we would be happy to provide further advice.
15. Currently a number of non-HEFCE funded providers who receive funding from other government departments or agencies receive automatic designation of eligible courses. This includes some further education colleges and some initial teacher training providers. We understand that some consideration has been given to how these providers will be treated in the new system, but that the issue is unresolved. This needs to be finalised quickly, and the relevant providers informed accordingly.

16. BIS will need to decide how the system will be monitored, including its impact on protected groups and on the student interest in general. (Non-completion rates may be particularly relevant, as this may affect not only students but the rate of debt write-off.) It will be important that sufficient information is collected to allow this monitoring to take place. In our view this will require Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) data returns from most or all providers whose students have access to student support. The type and volume of information that HESA would need to collect would not necessarily replicate that submitted by HEFCE-funded providers. We appreciate that this would incur a cost (currently unspecified) for providers, but this has to be balanced with the wider public interest in the effective stewardship of the whole higher education sector. Some providers already submit information to HESA or the Further Education Data Service, which may mitigate any transitional costs.
17. The consultation includes a short section on sanctions, appearing to suggest that providers should make a voluntary contribution to any cost to Government resulting from over-recruitment. While this will be an appropriate sanction linked to the student number control, it will also be important for BIS to consider actions it may take in response to other shortcomings linked to course designation (such as academic quality or financial sustainability) and whether or not these need to be consistent with those applied to HEFCE-funded providers. We would be happy to provide advice on this.
18. In addition, the complexities of alternative providers in the devolved administrations operating in England have yet to be addressed. The new process will apply to any providers who want their courses designated to allow any English-domiciled students access to the student finance system. This means that non-English-based providers may apply to have courses designated. Some of these providers may already have been assessed by other devolved administrations or government departments. It will be important to ensure that there is clarity over responsibilities and consistency in decision-making.
19. There is an expressed desire for the arrangements to be ‘proportionate’ for small providers. Exactly how this will be achieved while also fulfilling the requirement to control finances and support the student and public interest is not clear enough in the consultation document. We would be happy to work with BIS colleagues and smaller alternative providers to develop these arrangements.
Implications for HEFCE

20. The process being considered differs from HEFCE’s role with the existing funded sector, and therefore the assurances we can give in our advice on alternative providers may be more limited. We are committed to working with these providers to improve our understanding of their operations and to support them in delivering high-quality education to students. However the regulatory and accountability framework will be different under the proposed arrangements, and BIS needs to be aware of the limits to our role and what we can deliver. It will be critical for HEFCE that we work within our current legal powers at all times and establish open and effective relationships with alternative providers.
21. There are resource implications for HEFCE in supporting the new system. We are being asked to lead on the main operation of the new course designation process, which will create a significant amount of new and additional work for the organisation. Currently we fund and monitor 128 higher education institutions and fund 187 further education colleges, with over 100 alternative providers currently with designated courses, and many more providers applying. This gives an indication of the scale of the challenge we are considering. To discharge our new responsibilities in a professional way we are likely to require further resource. Download HEFCE’s response to the consultation.

Posté par pcassuto à 23:49 - - Permalien [#]

Student numbers and high grades

HEFCE logoOverview
When universities and colleges recruit new students, they cannot simply take as many as they might like. This is because the Government needs to control the level of publicly-funded student loans and grants for fees and maintenance. Based on guidance from Government we set each institution a limit – or ‘student number control’ – on the number of students they may recruit. This limit is only designed to control the number of students entering university or college. It is not designed to influence decisions about the suitability of candidates. Universities and colleges are autonomous organisations and these decisions are entirely up to them. They have always admitted students on the basis of academic excellence and potential, and they should continue to do so.
The ‘high-grades’ policy

Not all students are included in the student number control. The Government is keen to encourage popular and successful universities and colleges to expand, and to improve student choice. So it has decided to allow universities and colleges to recruit as many students with high grades at A-level and certain equivalent qualifications (broadly defined each year by government policy) as they wish, and are able to, outside of their student number control. We call this the ‘high-grades’ policy. We are responsible for putting the high-grades policy into practice and for identifying the high-grade qualifications from which institutions may recruit applicants without limit. Read more...

Posté par pcassuto à 23:44 - - Permalien [#]

Sustaining growth: Trust, equality, jobs

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and DevelopmentThe economy is not out of the woods yet, with limited growth at best expected in OECD countries for 2013, unemployment still rising in some areas and falling more slowly than had been hoped in others, before things start to pick up in 2014.
But this forecast, in the latest OECD Economic Outlook, is not written in stone – it assumes that governments continue with reforms to set their economies and societies back on the path to sustainable recovery – and that means sustainable socially, economically and environmentally.
One risk was averted in January, when the US Congress agreed to extend the country’s debt ceiling for a further three months until May, avoiding potential inability to pay its bills. But this decision also sent a message that Congress is taking seriously the need to find a more permanent solution than repeated debt rollovers – if lawmakers have not produced a budget bill by mid-April, they will not be paid until they do.
The key to recovery is to push ahead with reforms that will pay dividends in the medium-term, in areas such as education, innovation, taxation, jobs OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria said at Davos. This is not a case of ignoring the present, however -- "If you really want to go for a durable recovery, you really have to go for the fundamental measures," Mr. Gurria said in an interview with Bloomberg. "Some of these take a long time to get results but today, paradoxically, your best short-term policies may be your best long-term reforms.” Read more...

Posté par pcassuto à 23:06 - - Permalien [#]

From the information revolution to a knowledge-based world

OECD ObserverBy Angel Gurría, Secretary-General of the OECD. From the information revolution to a knowledge-based world.
To mark the occasion of the 50th anniversary edition of the OECD Observer, we take a brief look at how the information world and the global economy have transformed since the OECD’s first secretary-general, Thorkil Kristensen, launched the magazine in November 1962. 
In the last two decades we have lived through a veritable information revolution that has changed the world forever. Have these changes improved our lives or made our work easier? The answer is: yes, but! 
Take the Internet. Breakthroughs in information and communication technologies (ICT) have enhanced access to markets, spurred innovation and created new business opportunities. Technologies contributed to progress in energy, education, food and health, improving the well-being of a larger number of people worldwide. They have also helped emerging economies to become global powerhouses and locomotives of the world economy. 
The information revolution has changed the way our economies function and laid the foundations of a knowledge-based world. It is on this new landscape that policymakers should focus more of their attention. Read more...

Posté par pcassuto à 23:00 - - Permalien [#]

The new quality teaching guide for higher education institutions

Selection from a drawing by CreativeConnection done at the IMHE General Conference 2012The new quality teaching guide for higher education institutions.

In 2008, the OECD launched the AHELO feasibility study, an initiative with the objective to assess whether it is possible to develop international measures of learning outcomes in higher education.
Learning outcomes are indeed key to a meaningful education, and focusing on learning outcomes is essential to inform diagnosis and improve teaching processes and student learning. While there is a long tradition of learning outcomes’ assessment within institutions’courses and programmes, emphasis on learning outcomes has become more important in recent years. Interest in developing comparative measures of learning outcomes has increased in response to a range of higher education trends, challenges and paradigm shifts.
AHELO aims to complement institution-based assessments by providing a direct evaluation of student learning outcomes at the global level and to enable institutions to benchmark the performance of their students against their peers as part of their improvement efforts. Given AHELO’s global scope, it is essential that measures of learning outcomes are valid across diverse cultures and languages as well as different types of higher education institutions (HEIs). The purpose of the feasibility study is to see whether it is practically and scientifically feasible to assess what students in higher education know and can do upon graduation within and across these diverse contexts. The feasibility study should demonstrate what is feasible and what could be feasible, what has worked well and what has not, as well as provide lessons and stimulate reflection on how learning outcomes might be most effectively measured in the future.
The outcomes of the feasibility study will be presented in the following ways:
- this first volume of the feasibility study Report focusing on the design and implementation processes;
- a second volume which will be published in February 2013 on data analysis and national experiences;
- the feasibility study Conference which will take place in Paris on 11-12 March 2013; and
- a third and final volume to be published in April 2013 on further insights (and which will include the conference proceedings).
Download the new quality teaching guide for higher education institutions.

Posté par pcassuto à 22:53 - - Permalien [#]