Quality assurance framework for higher education in Ghana developed

University of GhanaThe National Quality Working Group (NWG) for quality enhancement has developed a National Quality Assurance Framework for Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in Ghana.

It is aimed at reducing ambiguity, creating stakeholder confidence and efficiency of performance and supporting HEIs to deliver quality educational services in in the country.

The Framework is the product of a study into the factors that promote and constrain quality assurance practices in higher education in Ghana undertaken by the National Working Group under the Council for the Development of Social Research in Africa (CODESRIA)’s Higher Education Leadership Programme (HELP).

Started in November 2012, the project was collaboration among the University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA), the National Accreditation Board (NAB), the National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE) and the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST).

Speaking at a validation conference held in Accra to discuss the outcomes from the study and to introduce the framework for stakeholder comment and input, Prof Goski Alabi, the Technical Team Leader for the project, said it sought to document the evolution of the Quality Assurance (QA) practices in Higher Education Institutions in Ghana.

It would analyse how the current national accreditation structures had impacted on higher education, identify factors that promote and constrain the practice of quality assurance and also develop a framework for enhancing QA practices in HEIs.

She said the study found that there was no consensus on the definition of the concept of quality in higher education, with different institutions having different meanings of the concept.

Quality, she said, had two parts: External quality assurance which comprises accreditation, affiliation and academic audits, and internal quality comprising a management aspect and a cultural part.

Prof Alabi said the study also found factors promoting quality culture in the country such as strong leadership commitment, strong vision and communication of the need for quality, training, affiliation, professional bodies’ standards and evaluation among others.

It also identified some factors which constrained the culture of quality including low capacity of quality management, centralisation of the NAB, lack of information management, quality of academic staff, absence of quality assurance framework or guidelines, funding for quality and the work load on staff.

She outlined some key issues raised in the study, and appealed to the agencies responsible to address them.

The team, in its recommendations, stressed the need for a benchmark for assessment of students from HEIs to determine the level of quality education given them, through outbound examinations or Tracer Studies.

She also recommended the strengthening of information management in institutions saying that although there were some documents on quality assurance, they were scattered and needed to be collated into a single document and also create a repository for labor market data.

Mr. Kwame Darteh, Executive Secretary of the NAB, noted that quality assurance, especially external QA, was important for HEIs because it helped them to go beyond the minimum requirements, adding that two key indicators of the level of QA in institutions were the level of their academic staff and governance structure.

Such institutions should have proper governance structure for decision-making and staff able to award the qualification after the course.

Addressing the issue of the award of honorary degrees by foreign institutions and whether it showed a weakness in the NAB’s system, Mr Darteh said it was not, and asked prominent Ghanaians on who such degrees were conferred not to cheapen themselves by allowing such institutions to confer degrees on them in Ghana.

“If they want to honour you and they are qualified to, let them do it in their own countries,” she stated.

He called on stakeholders in education to strive to identify, unearth and develop the talents of individuals since everyone could not go to university.

Prof Frederick K. Roderick, Quality Assurance Director and Dean of School of Applied Science at the Central University College suggested that quality assurance, with regards to students’ performance, should be looked at from the lower level of education before students entered higher education as quality assurance did not operate in isolation.

He also expressed the need for government, through the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), to identify the man power or human resource needs of the country for particular periods so that students could be trained for specific jobs and also offer incentives for those studying those courses, such as science and technology.

Source: GNA

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