|A NEW QA APPROACH:
THE IMPLEMENTATION OF SELF-ACCREDITATION POLICY IN TAIWAN HIGHER EDUCATION AND ITS CHALLENGES TO UNIVERSITY INTERNAL QUALITY ASSURANCE CAPACITY BUILDING
|Professor Angela Yung-chi Hou (Board Member, International Network for Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education)|
Quality assurance is ‘a process of establishing stakeholder confidence that provision (input, process and outcomes) fulfills expectations or measures up to threshold minimum requirements’ (INQAAHE, 2013). It consists of two major parts, internal quality assurance and external quality assurance. According to the International Network of Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education (INQAAHE), ‘internal evaluation’ is a ‘process of quality review undertaken within an institution for its own ends’. Accordingly, development and management of internal quality assurance system is ‘at the discretion of the higher education institution, which usually carries out this mandate in the context of available institutional resources and capacities’ (Paintsil, 2016, p. 4). In other words, with an appropriate policy and mechanism, an institution can ensure that, ‘it fulfills its own purposes and meet the standards that apply to higher education in general, or to the profession or disciplines in particular’ (Martin & Stella, 2007, p. 34). The Council for Higher Education Accreditation’s (CHEA) Principle One states that ‘assuring and achieving quality in higher education is the primary responsibility of higher education providers and their staff’ (Hou, 2016, p. 7). Therefore, higher education providers are expected to take the primary responsibility for assuring the quality of the programmes they offer, through internal quality assurance systems and through the process of engaging faculty members (academic staff) and administrative staff.
On the other hand, external quality assurance agencies (EQA), with a ‘self-critical, objective, and open-minded’ character, undertake third-party review activities of higher education institutions, in order to determine whether the quality of universities ‘meets the agreed or predetermined standards’ (Martin & Stella, 2007, p. 34). Normally, internal quality assurance is considered as the part of the external process that an institution undertakes in preparation for an external quality assurance. Both indeed are so much ‘two sides of the same coin that the activities are inextricably interrelated’ (Vroeijenstijn, 2008, p. 1).
The national quality assurance system in Taiwan was not formed until the Higher Education Evaluation and Accreditation Council of Taiwan (HEEACT) was established in 2005. With funds from the government and 153 colleges and universities, HEEACT became the first national accreditor, acting as a quality regulator of Taiwan higher education. The 2005 revised University Act stipulates that universities should periodically undergo self-evaluation on teaching, research, service, counseling, administration, and student engagement; evaluation guidelines should be set forth by each university (Ministry of Education, 2005; Hou, 2011). Under the University Act, HEEACT is mandated as the leading accreditor in Taiwan to ensure the activities of universities in adherence to established quality standards and accountability. Given the fact that all universities and programmes are required to be reviewed externally by a professional quality assurance body on a regular basis, HEEACT is requested to operate both institutional and programme-based accreditation with a compulsory approach. Over the past 10 years, more than 81 institutions and 3000 programmes were under HEEACT’s review and their detailed final reports were published on the official website (HEEACT, 2015).
As a result of notable university requests, regarding governance and management deregulation by the government, the Ministry of Education (MOE) decided to launch the ‘self-accreditation’ policy in 2012 in order to increase university autonomy and build internal quality assurance mechanism on campus (MOE, 2013). Those institutions that were selected as self-accrediting universities were also expected to develop university strengths as well as to demonstrate academic accountability. Hence, the purpose of the study is to better comprehend: (1) the establishment of internal quality assurance mechanism in Taiwan’s self-accrediting higher education institutions; (2) the challenges that self-accrediting institutions faced when internal quality assurance capacity building; (3) future prospects for self-accreditation policy and an examination of a new role for the national quality assurance agency. In addition, the Joint Committee on Standards for Educational Evaluation (JCSEE) programme evaluation framework was adopted to assess and monitor activity, subsequent to the initial objective having been achieved. Three research questions are addressed as follows:
Angela Yung-chi Hou, is Professor of Higher Education at National Chengchi University, Taiwan and serves as Executive Director of Higher Education Evaluation & Accreditation Council of Taiwan since 2016. Currently, she is also the elected INQAAHE board member. She has been involved in quality assurance practices and international research for more than 15 years. She has been actively taken part in quality assurance development of Asian higher education in the Position of APQN Vice President over past 7 years. When she worked at Fu Jen Catholic University, she ever served as Dean of Office of International Education, Director of Faculty Development Center, and Director of Public Affairs.
She specializes in higher education policy, quality management, internationalization, faculty development, quality assurance of cross border higher education. She has been conducting several international higher education research projects funded by the Taiwan and US governments. Currently, she is also in the service of Chief-in-Editor of HEED Journal jointly published by HEEACT and Asian Pacific Quality Network (APQN) and as Associate Editor of Journal of Asian Pacific Educational Review (SSCI). Up to present, she has published more than 130 Chinese and English papers, articles, book chapters and reports in the areas of higher education evaluation, quality assurance, cross border higher education in local and international referred journals. In particular, 19 are highly impact SSCI journal articles. Since 2013, She has been recognized by the Springer as one of the top 10 Asian researchers in higher education field. Over past five years, she has been awarded “Outstanding Researcher” by Ministry of Science and Technology, Taiwan.
She is the author of CHEA Principles "Principle 1 Quality and higher education providers". In addition, she was the first Asian scholar interviewed by The Newsletter of the CHEA International Quality Group(CIQG). She edited Springer higher education series “Higher Education in East Asia: Quality, Excellence and Governance” with other three top Asian Scholar. Up to present, there are five monographs published in the series. Over years, she has been invited to OECD, AQAN, ANQAHE, SEEI, IREG, HKCAAVQ, HEEC, AACCUP, PACUCOA, NAAC, British Council, INQAAHE, APEC, ENQA, APQN, ANQAHE, BAN-PT, EU SHARE to deliver keynote speeches, make presentations and run workshops on QA issues.