Presenter: Dr. Farida Nurmanbetova
Nowadays use of digital technologies is an integral part of activities of many Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education (QAA). In the context of this topic the discussion will be focused on the new approaches and values, practical implication of the digital technologies, and how QAA’s use the technologies to appropriately respond to the challenges presented by the COVID-19 outbreak.
Currently, higher education institutions have cancelled all face-to-face classes and moved their courses online. The most significant challenges currently facing higher education institutions are how they can continue to provide quality education to students during the coronavirus outbreak, and effective student academic and mental health support and consultation.
The threat of COVID-19 has presented the challenges for QAA that include: consideration of the legal provisions at the national level, modifying regulations related to the digital delivery of courses, development and implementation of the QAA’s response action plan to the COVID-19 outbreak, moving the activities and communication on-line, organising remote work of staff, adopting the standards and criteria and procedures to current situation, organisation of on-line site-visit and desk-review, staff and reviewers training in on-line external evaluation, providing support to higher education institutions, communication with authorities, relevant stakeholders and international partners.
The increasing number of QA agencies are now adopting new digital technology and moving site-visits on-line due to the COVID-19 outbreak. This requires a re-evaluation of the accreditation process methodology.
QAA's International Partners' Forum hosted on 20 May 2020, highlighted the common challenges of higher education quality assurance across the world brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic: “Both the pre-event questionnaire and the presentations at the Forum explored whether the changes in a country's higher education sector and in agency practices and approach, brought about by need, could be adopted in the longer term, representing a 'new normal'… Most agencies were optimistic that the work being done in their country to address infrastructure and access to technology issues would support the increase in digital delivery.”
Key questions to reflect on the topic:
1) What challenges your agency faced when working remotely and using digital technology in QA process during coronavirus crisis?
2) Would working remotely through technology affect the efficiency and/or quality of the QA process? Should we be concerned about over-reliance on technology and would it negatively affect QA?
3) Were there any challenges with allocating budget for the digital software and hardware resources to promote QA remotely? Is it sensible to invest in on-line resources in hopes of more QA processes occurring on-line in the future? Or is this a phase and QA procedures will resume in standard ways once the outbreak is over?
Additional material (i.e. reading list or links to useful websites):
1. QAA's International Partners' Forum - 20 May 2020 Summary Report
More information about the practice and approaches that have been taken by the higher education institution in different countries in response to the COVID-19 is available on the QAA’s website:
2. Taking Initial Steps: A Path for Rethinking Accreditation and Quality Assurance, Judith Eaton, President, Council for Higher Education Accreditation; Inside Accreditation, June 2020
3. COVID-19 Planning Guide and Self-Assessment for Higher Education David Long; David Graves; Jack Burton; Christina Kim; Crystal Watson; Lucia Mullen; Tom Inglesby; Judith Eaton; Stephen Gange; Jonathan Links June 15, 2020; Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), and Tuscany Strategy Consulting (TSC)
4. External quality assurance in the time of COVID-19. Case examples from ENQA member agencies