Assessment and accreditation of higher education institutions (HEIs) in India will soon be based on global standards and practices. For the first time ever, the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) and key quality networks and agencies from Asia, Europe, America, Australia, UK, Africa and other countries have joined hands to develop a common agenda for international quality assurance of Indian universities.
Information on the quality of all HEIs across the world will also be available soon on one portal. Some of the agencies include the Asia-Pacific Quality Network (APQN), Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) from USA, European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education, (ENQA), European Consortium for Accreditation in Higher Education (ECA), Arab Network for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ANQAHE), ASEAN Quality Assurance Network (AQAN), Asia Pacific Quality Register (APQR), Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education UK (QAA – UK), Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA), Australia, Tertiary Education Commission, Mauritius (TEC), Malaysian Qualifications Agency, Accrediting Agency of Chartered Colleges and Universities in the Philippines (AACCUP), Higher Education Evaluation and Accreditation Council of Taiwan (HEEACT) and National Institution for Academic Degrees and Quality Enhancement for Higher Education (NIAD-QE) from Japan.
While some regions like Europe have well-established information and recognition systems like the European Network of Information Centres in the European Region and National Academic Recognition Information Centres in the European Union (ENIC-NARIC ), many other regions lack such resources. To address this issue, APQN has initiated a global project on quality information portal, with the help of Unesco.
Says Prof DP Singh, director, NAAC, “We need to promote development of regional and global databases of recognised accreditation bodies and accredited higher education institutions. We are working on enhancing links among all existing quality registers such as CHEA, European Quality Assurance Registers and databases for Higher Education (EQAR) and Asia Pacific Quality Register (APQR) for accreditation agencies. Similarly, existing databases and information portals of accredited higher education institutions need to be strengthened and linked.”
Universities, quality assurance bodies, governments, inter-governmental agencies and international networks are under increased pressure from students and other stakeholders to play a proactive role in safeguarding their interests while promoting international student mobility.
The 20 quality assurance agencies will share and promote good practices by using multiple platforms such as conferences, virtual and communication technologies, workshops, publications and staff exchanges as part of the Bengaluru Statement 2016 on Next Generation Quality Assurance of Higher Education. According to Prof Jianxin Zhang, president of APQN and chief expert of Yunnan Higher Education Evaluation Centre in China, “Global quality networks and agencies coming together is a major landmark in the international history of higher education quality assurance. This is the first time key quality networks and agencies from four continents (Asia, Europe, America and Africa) have come together. We intend working to establish the website platform of Asia Pacific Quality Register (APQR) along with NAAC to guarantee the quality of higher education in this region. The aim is also to develop and utilise consultant database of APQN and other resources to serve this region.”
Syun Tutiya, professor, National Institution for Academic Degrees and Quality Enhancement of Higher Education (NIAD-QE), Japan, says, “We are working towards discussing the current situations in Japan’s quality assurance of higher education focusing on its governmental moves including international collaborative programmes.”
USA’s CHEA seeks to work with the international quality community on tackling challenges facing quality assurance internationally. Judith Eaton, president, CHEA, says, “Internationalisation is now a powerful force throughout the academic community. We exchange information and ideas on common interests and concerns including public accountability, student learning outcomes, new modes of educational delivery, international quality expectation, the role of government, academic freedom, non-institutional education, a single set of quality standards, rankings, degree mills and more.”
NAAC has also signed MoUs with accreditation bodies in Taiwan and Mauritius to achieve these goals. Dr Jagannath Patil, former president, International Network of Quality Assurance in Higher Education, says, “In terms of international mobility of students, India is the second largest country sending its students abroad. This necessitates that Indian accreditation system should not only meet global standards but should also actively collaborate with global bodies to make sure that Indian institutions and qualifications are respected and accredited worldwide. The Bengaluru Statement is a concrete step in this direction.”