QA in general
For us, quality is not just declarative disposition. Algebra group (our founder) has ISO 2001 quality assurance system for the past 8 years, so we are familiar with formalized quality assurance mechanisms. With the same determination towards quality, which helped Algebra dominate Croatian adult IT education sphere for the past 14 years, we built our internal Quality assurance system, and are constantly improving it year after year.
Introduction of an internal quality assurance system and its implementation is necessary in higher education in order for students, employers and the broader community to gain trust that the institution conducts educational activities in a correct and socially useful way for which it received authorization in the form of initial accreditation. In institutions of higher education, the definitions of teaching plans and programs as well as the way of and criteria for grading are largely left to the institutions themselves so an internal quality assurance system is necessary in order for the process to happen transparently. Unlike the institutions teaching by prescribed programs and where the results of education are tested through an external independent evaluation (for instance, the secondary schools system and the state matriculation), in institutions of higher education it's their internal quality assurance system that's checked and thus is the transparency of their work and grading ensured.
Starting points for the implementation of the quality assurance system in University College for Applied computer engineering are:
- Interest of students, employers and the society as a whole in quality higher education;
- Importance of institutional autonomy and the comprehension that the autonomy represents a great responsibility, too;
Development of our QA system
University College realized the importance of quality assurance from the very start of its work when, in 2008, the first short-term Development Strategy was written. That document was really based on detected problems in the quality of teaching, resources and organization, and then suggested possible solutions for their removal. At the time, the assurance of quality was mainly under jurisdiction of the Managing Board and Dean’s assistant (now Dean). By the further development of insights into quality but also by the necessity of starting activities that would bring improvements in the quality of teaching, the first student survey was conducted in 2008 and the Professional Council started taking over the roles concerning the development of quality assurance for the teaching process. Although at that moment we didn't have all the necessary documents for a system of quality assurance, we have started following the European trends more, and in 2009 we initiated an international project exactly in this area and in parallel started preparing our own solutions, namely "Guidelines for Teachers" that later grew into "Guidelines for courses setup and training organization for teachers". In 2010, about two years after the establishment of the institution, we formed the Committee for Quality Assurance and produced key documents in this area. The Committee for Quality Assurance is still today the key body concerned with the matters of quality assurance, its tasks are extensively described in the documents listed within the answer to the previous question.
Besides the Committee for Quality Assurance, we encouraged development of quality culture in the institution while other stakeholders and employees were made aware of the importance of quality assurance at all levels as well. To further stress the importance of the matters of quality, we produced detailed workplace descriptions which have KPI for the position listed, which the individual or the department have to satisfy. The Committee for Quality Assurance receives annual reports on KPIs, as described in the previous answer. During the implementation of the quality assurance system we primarily paid attention to the ESG recommendations but also to the experience our founder Algebra Education Group has in the ISO 9001:2000 quality assurance system that they have implemented since 2004. At this point, the University College hasn't implemented the ISO system, but we plan to do it in this program period (2009-2013).
Description of our QA system
The internal quality assurance system we built is clear, documented and transparent, and it covers all the aspects of our work, not only the teaching. The system recognizes the interests of our employees, but also the interests of our students, the employers, local economy, and Croatian and European strategic development guidelines. The quality assurance system of the University College adequately includes students, employees, employers and other relevant factors, ensuring for them clear functions and influence on all the processes happening in the University College. Work procedures, authority and responsibilities are all defined by the system in appropriate normative documents.
Organization-wise, such a system recognizes roles and responsibilities of internal units and individuals for quality assurance, so it defines and monitors expected and realized results of work. Through redefining KPIs and the set goals of quality assurance, that have to be performed by the Committee for Quality Assurance, we ensured not only the deployment and implementation of the quality assurance system and its core values, but also the monitoring of its realization, as well as necessary revisions and possible changes.
QA Development project
University College used international project for development of its documented quality assurance system, in which we partnered with one of the top accreditation agencies in Europe; Dutch – Flemish NVAO who was the project coordinator and who supported QA development process in our institution. Determination to the quality also in higher education was fully shown by the Colleges’, acceptance of University of Zagreb, Faculty of electrical engineering and computing (FER) as curriculum reviser in 2008. We also widened FER’s position and undergone their external audit for the first time in 2010 in order to receive independent evaluation of our organization and overall quality by most respected national higher educational institution in the field.
More information in respect to our QA system could be found as follows:
Self evaluation report 2010
NVAO evaluation report
More regarding QA project with NVAO can be found on heiq.net