Uploaded on 6 Jan 2007
http://www.ted.com Sir Ken Robinson makes an entertaining and profoundly moving case for creating an education system that nurtures (rather than undermines) creativity.
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The HEDIIP Subject Coding project has been established to develop a replacement for the JACSsystem in order to meet the needs of a broader group of stakeholders and reflect the diverse and dynamic nature of Higher Education in the twenty-first century. The project is being undertaken by The Centre for Educational Technology, Interoperability and Standards (Cetis) at the University of Bolton.
The project has undertaken extensive stakeholder engagement to identify the requirements for the new coding system. The requirements are analysed in the Stage 1 report.
The project team have now developed a new coding structure that aims to meet these requirements. A detailed account of the process used to translate from the requirements to the design adopted is presented in the Structure and Candidate Scheme report.
The project has also been working with stakeholders to draft an adoption plan and a governance model for the new scheme.
A consultation has now opened on the proposed new scheme and on the governance and adoption plans. Additional material and full details on how to respond to the consultation can be found on the subject coding consultation site.
The proposed structure has been termed HECoS – the Higher Education Classification of Subjects. It represents a significant step away from the JACS system. Specifically:
- HECoS will have a six digit random numeric code with no leading zeros
- HECoS will have some form of navigation to aid user input but will have no defined hierarchy.
JACS3 terms have been used as input to the new scheme development, subject to usage and quality criteria, with new terms added to address known problems with JACS3 (such as history by period and by area).
Background to the project
The current method of classifying subjects is based on a scheme known as the Joint Academic Coding System (JACS). JACS has been in use for a number of years and requires a major review because:
- the limit of the existing coding framework has been reached;
- changes and growth in JACS’ range of functions mean it is no longer consistently applied;
- it does not meet the needs of all of the key sector stakeholders.
The HEDIIP Subject Coding project builds on the 2013 report (with appendices) which considered the varying requirements and uses of subject coding in HE and set out options for the development of a replacement for JACS.
- Higher education policymakers should look to learn from efforts to ensure quality, accountability, and consumer protection in other sectors.
- Higher ed can learn about transparency efforts from health care, about outcome measurement and accountability from workforce development, about deregulation and delegated oversight from charter schools, and about imposing greater risk sharing from housing finance.
- By broadening its focus, higher education policymakers and researchers can improve higher education and ensure that we do not repeat some of the same mistakes that have plagued promising reform efforts in other sectors.
In response to growing concerns about the US higher education system, policymakers have launched a range of efforts to improve the system’s quality. But this is easier said than done. The system is populated with a diverse array of programs offered through a mix of public, nonprofit, and for-profit providers. Furthermore, the outcomes that students and the public care about are frequently difficult to measure and are integrally tied to the characteristics and behavior of students themselves. All these factors confound efforts to improve quality.
In reality, however, numerous sectors suffer from these challenges in one way or another. Policymakers should, therefore, look to learn from efforts to ensure quality, accountability, and consumer protection in these other sectors. In that spirit, this paper examines four sectors that face many of these same challenges: health care (with a focus on transparency efforts), workforce development (specifically, the system’s long-standing emphasis on outcome measurement and accountability), charter schools (a model of deregulation and delegated oversight), and housing finance (an example of risk sharing).
First, in the health care sector, scholars have been conducting research on the efficacy of transparency efforts—typically referred to as report cards—as well as any unintended consequences that might arise as a result of them. These efforts in health care are similar to efforts such as the College Scorecard that are taking place within the higher education system.
The data are mixed in terms of how report cards impact consumer behavior in health care. But regardless of the impact on student behavior, research in the health care sector suggests that increased transparency would change the behavior of institutions. This could simply reflect schools’ anticipation of how students might respond or could reflect other concerns, such as those related to an institution’s reputation among its peers. Note, however, that as part of this response, institutions would likely take steps to change the types of students they are willing to serve. To the degree that policymakers are concerned about this, they should take steps to include on report cards risk-adjusted measures or, better yet, measures broken out by specific subpopulations.
Second, the federal government has for decades held service providers in the workforce development system accountable for educational and employment outcomes, making it a helpful example of performance-based accountability. Researchers have found evidence suggesting that providers in the workforce development system engaged in “cream skimming”—that is, choosing those participants who are most likely to be successful over ones who are harder to serve but might benefit more—as well as gamed outcomes measures to enhance their performance. Therefore, higher education policy-makers must recognize that any performance-based accountability system can create incentives for providers to change who they serve.
Policymakers must also be cognizant to invest in data that are easily validated and in measures that are clearly defined and not easily gamed. At the federal level, repealing the unit record ban—which prevents the Department of Education from collecting information on student enrollment—could enable the federal government to do most of the legwork around collecting and publishing a number of relevant outcomes in a way that avoids these challenges.
Third, the burgeoning charter school sector provides a good example of delegated oversight that higher education can learn from. A growing body of research on effective charter authorizing shows that organizations that see authorizing and accountability as part of their core purpose tend to be the most effective. Authorizer independence from the entities being regulated, and from politics, is also essential, as is creating some kind of accountability mechanism for authorizers on the basis of the performance of their school portfolios.
The most fundamental lesson that emerges from the charter sector is that building a parallel path for market entry can fundamentally change the supply side of a quasi-market such as higher education. Charter schools did not emerge from a complete overhaul of public schooling. Instead, they emerged because policymakers created space for new schools whose leaders were willing to be held accountable for student outcomes. Likewise, in higher education, reforming the accreditation process directly will be a long and difficult road. But that should not prevent policymakers from creating space for promising organizations that are willing to be held accountable for their student outcomes.
Finally, recent financial reform legislation known as the Dodd-Frank Act imposes requirements on mortgage lenders similar to proposals to impose risk sharing on higher education institutions. Research suggests that mortgage portfolios where originators did retain some “skin in the game” outperformed those where the originator had no risk retention. The degree of risk retention need not be large.
Higher education policymakers should also consider whether institutions might have an ability to simply raise tuition to effectively “price in” the risk they are obligated to take under any “skin in the game” proposal. Although an institution choosing this route might deter some students from applying and would increase the risk of repayment problems among its graduates, the institution might gain more in revenue than it loses in additional fines or lost enrollment. It, therefore, may be in its interest to increase its price. To the degree that this is the case, it indicates that policymakers should implement a risk-sharing scheme in conjunction with other proposals (such as greater transparency) that help strengthen the forces of market discipline.
Concerns around the quality of OER have been significant in educational institutions deciding whether or not to openly release their teaching and learning materials. Releasing these materials exposes institutions in a new way and individual staff can feel unsure that their materials will compare well with other staff within their institution or their subject discipline. Quality can be applied in both a technical and pedagogical sense - and both are relevant. Release of OER at an institutional level provides an opportunity for existing quality measures to be reconsidered/evaluated and can also open up useful dialogue across the institution that may not have happened previously.
What does 'quality' mean?
It is difficult to specify precisely what 'quality' means in the context of OER, where discoverability, accessibility and availability are at least as important as the production values they embody. There is a difference in emphasis with OER release in that third parties are actively encouraged to re-use, re-purpose and remix the resources. This, OER advocates claim, leads to higher standards when a long view is taken.
However, the issue remains that the quality of learning resources is usually determined using the following lenses:
- Reputation of author/institution
- Standard of technical production
- Fitness for purpose
We are the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA): the independent body entrusted with monitoring, and advising on, standards and quality in UK higher education.
As UK higher education grows and diversifies, we safeguard standards and support the improvement of quality for students - whether they study at a university or college in the UK or in any other location worldwide where courses lead to UK higher education qualifications.
The scale, shape, structure and purpose of learning provision are changing in the UK and around the world. We are uniquely placed to anticipate and respond to these changes in order to safeguard the reputation of UK higher education, support economic opportunity for the UK, and provide assurance to those who invest in and undertake learning.
Through our consultative and advisory role, working at government level through to individual organisations, we will continue to play our part in shaping the future. This extends to playing a leading role in international developments in quality assurance, through membership of the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education and of the International Network for Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education.
Above all, we will continue to put students and the public interest at the centre of everything we do.
Our strategy includes our mission, vision, aims and what we want to be recognised for, by 2017. You can read this below or through our Strategy 2014-17 publication.
The QAA Review 2014 also briefly explains the work we do to ensure that all UK higher education meets agreed standards and provides a good quality experience for students.
Published on 19 Jun 2014
his animation helps you understand the Higher Education Review method of The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education.
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Assuring quality for international students studying in the UK
The guidance focuses on some of the expectations set out in the UK Quality Code for Higher Education that are particularly relevant for providers when considering the needs of international students.
It identifies a series of steps providers can take to create the best UK learning experience for international students - from recruitment through to graduation.
The consultation is open until 13 March 2015.
A boost for quality assurance in African higher education
The 6th International Conference on Quality Assurance in Higher Education in Africa, held in Bujumbura, Burundi 15-19 September, ended in a spirit of optimism. Although the quality of higher education in Africa is under severe pressure, mostly due to massively increased enrolments, many developments are underway that seem to be helping the continent onto the right track.
Just last year, at the Tuning meeting in Libreville, Gabon, that preceded the 2013 General Assembly of the Association of African Universities (AAU), doubts were still voiced about whether or not small African countries needed national quality assurance agencies at all. These doubts seem to have all but vanished today.
Need for stronger quality assurance
In the face of massification and globalisation, the quality of African degrees is so severely threatened that everyone now appears to accept that quality assurance is part and parcel of modern higher education and that the development of a continental framework for quality assurance is a matter of utmost priority.
As the number of national quality assurance agencies in Africa has risen from a mere 6 in 2006 to 23 today, new initiatives are being launched to promote their further development and link them across the continent. Supporting this all, the European Union is launching a new line of support to quality assurance and accreditation in Africa.
Call for Pan-African Quality Assurance and Accreditation Framework
Among a set of recommendations that will be finalised before the end of October, the Bujumbura conference urged African countries and institutions without quality assurance agencies to establish one as soon as possible. It will also recommend that a Pan-African Quality Assurance and Accreditation Framework will be made a reality soon.
Such a framework has been called for since 2008, initially as a rating mechanism proposed by the Council of African Education Ministers but later and by other actors as a quality enhancement tool.
Last year, the African Union and the EU responded to this call by commissioning a study exploring a Pan-African Quality Assurance and Accreditation Framework. It was carried out by Nigerian Peter Okebukola and Belgian consultant Bart Fonteyne. An advanced draft of their study was received very well in Bujumbura.
The conference drew 150 participants to Bujumbara. It was co-hosted by the African branch of the Global University Network for Innovation (GUNi-Africa), the Association of African Universities and the University of Burundi, and co-funded by the European Union.
At the Conference the EU was presented with the GUNi-Africa/AfriQAN 2014 Award for Support for Quality Assurance in Higher Education in Africa.
Feedback from the Bujumbura conference will be integrated into the report, the final version of which is expected to be validated at a meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in February 2015.
The European Quality Assurance Reference Framework for VET (the Framework) provides a European-wide system to help Member States and stakeholders to document, develop, monitor, evaluate and improve the effectiveness of their VET provision and quality management practices.
It can be applied at both system and VET provider levels and can therefore be used to assess the efficiency of VET provision. It is adaptable to the different national systems and it can be used in accordance with national legislation and practice.
European Foundation for Quality in e-Learning
Comparisons of International Quality Assurance Systems for Vocational Education and Training
— Theme: Quality assurance
— Country: Australia
— Type: Reports
This project examined the quality assurance mechanisms for the vocational education and training (VET) sector used in five nations: Canada (Ontario), Germany, New Zealand, Singapore and the United Kingdom (UK). The mechanisms used by these nations have been compared with those in Australia to identify best practice.
THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, EMPLOYMENT AND WORKPLACE RELATIONS
The European Foundation for Quality in eLearning (EFQUEL) is a not-for-profit organisation which was legally established on June 30, 2005 and is based in Brussels,Belgium. It is a worldwide membership network with over 120 member organisations including universities, corporations and national agencies. The purpose of the foundation is to create a European community of users and experts to share experiences of eLearning. Two of the main initiatives of the foundation are the "UNIQUe" accreditation for Quality in e-Learning and the annual EFQUEL Forum.
The European Quality Assurance for Vocational Education and Training (EQAVET)
The European Quality Assurance system (originally known as a “Reference Framework”) for Vocational Education and Training (EQAVET) is designed to make sure that the quality of training programmes in the UK and other countries can be trusted. Its aim is to contribute to quality improvement in VET and to increased transparency of, and consistency in, VET policy developments between Member States, thereby promoting mutual trust, mobility of workers and learners, and lifelong learning.
In June 2009, EU member states adopted a recommendation from the European Commission to establish a reference instrument to help to promote and monitor continuous improvement of their VET systems based on common European references. EQAVET is the result of this process. EQAVET is a reference tool for policy-makers based on a four-stage quality cycle that includes goal setting and planning, implementation, evaluation and review. It respects the autonomy of national governments and is a voluntary system to be used by public authorities and other bodies involved in quality assurance. One of the key elements of EQAVET is the 10 selected quality indicators which support the evaluation and quality improvement of VET systems across Member States.
Member States are encouraged to use the framework, and develop a national approach to improving quality assurance systems that involves all relevant stakeholders. This approach should include the establishment of national reference points for quality assurance, as well as active participation in the relevant European-level network.
Further information, including what is taking place in each member state, is available from the EQAVET network or
European Commission sites. You can also view a selection of videos from the EQAVET annual forum for policy makers 2013.