A SHARED virtual platform to help quality assure higher education institutions and programmes is among the measures that the Pacific’s academic quality assurance agencies will explore as they collectively seek to strengthen resilience in response to the challenges caused by the COVID19 pandemic.
This idea of a shared platform to facilitate accreditation and quality review processes was discussed by the region’s national agencies at the inaugural Pacific Quality Forum.
The success of such a platform would require trust and mutual recognition of quality assurance systems, the forum noted in its report released last month.
The quality assurance agencies of Fiji (Fiji Higher Education Commission), Papua New Guinea (PNG’s Department of Higher Education), Samoa (Samoa Qualifications Authority) and Vanuatu (Vanuatu Qualifications Authority) were present at the forum discussion, which was also attended by the Academic Quality Agency for New Zealand Universities (AQA).
The online forum, convened by the Pacific Community’s Educational Quality and Assurance Programme (EQAP) last October, was for agencies to examine the impacts of the global pandemic on their work, and to share their responses and the new practices that have worked to effectively adapt to the challenges caused by the pandemic.
According to the report, the agencies recognised that the importance of quality assurance work to maintain the high standards of post-secondary education was even more critical now because the global COVID-19 pandemic has forced many systems to quickly transition to facilitate online learning.
The new enthusiasm to digitise higher education was noted as one of the positive impacts of the pandemic. Another positive registered was the reduced costs and less time involved with the new mode of work/operations. Forum members shared that they were also working to improve their online capacities and conceded that it would be prudent to seek the counsel of Pacific institutions that have long developed their online learning systems.
While the full impact of the pandemic on post-secondary education institutions cannot be properly understood until enough time had passed, the forum members conceded that agencies must continue to improve their systems and processes to prepare for any adverse events.
The forum concluded after members discussed opportunities for peer learning and support, and committed to share their own register of reviewers to help agencies short on professional external reviewers to engage.
Click here for full report on the inaugural Pacific Quality Forum