The future effectiveness of higher education quality assurance will continue to be shaped by application of the peer/professional review process and use of consensus-driven standards to judge quality, Judith Eaton, President of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), told an international education colloquium.
Eaton served as a keynote speaker at the International Leadership Colloquium on Quality Assurance, Accreditation and Assessment in Higher Education, held June 14-16, 2010 in Madrid, Spain.
“Quality assurance has expanded significantly in recent years, with major growth in country-based, regional and international initiatives to address quality in higher education,” Eaton stated. “This growth in capacity to judge quality has enabled countries and regions to distinguish reliable institutions from questionable providers, to accommodate the growth of online education, to strengthen the foundation for cross-border student mobility and to assist students and employers in identifying institutions that provide quality higher education.”
Higher education quality assurance faces a number of challenges, Eaton noted. “These challenges include new demands on judging quality, such as the extraordinary growth of for-profit higher education and the rapid expansion of online higher education, as well as the emergence of alternative – perhaps even competitive – approaches to reviewing quality, such as ranking systems and qualifications networks,” she said.
“Quality assurance is a key factor in the increased worldwide emphasis on higher education attainment,” Eaton said. “This has triggered additional government attention to how well quality assurance bodies are doing in their work, seeking to assure the attainment of not only increased numbers of degrees but also quality credentials as well. This, in turn, is leading in a number of countries to greater government involvement in judging academic quality. And, quality assurance is playing a more visible role in discussions of economic development.”
Eaton concluded that “The credibility and value of future quality assurance efforts will be judged by how well we provide solutions to the many challenges before us. At the same time, we seek to preserve the valuable fundamentals that brought us the effectiveness that characterizes our current quality assurance efforts.”
The two-day colloquium, which drew participants from around the world, was organized by the Agency for Quality, Accreditation and Prospective of the Universities of Madrid (ACAP) and ABET, Inc., the U.S. accrediting organization for college and university programs in applied science, computing, engineering, and technology.
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A national advocate and institutional voice for self-regulation of academic quality through accreditation, CHEA is an association of 3,000 degree-granting colleges and universities and recognizes 60 institutional and programmatic accrediting organizations. For more information, visit CHEA’s Website at www.chea.org.