23 February 2022

AUN-QA Special: Opening Door to the Future of Higher Education at NUOL

Noppanun Sookping
AUN Programme Officer;

On 14 – 18 February 2022, the ASEAN University Network Quality Assurance (AUN-QA) had the pleasure of virtually conducting a quality assurance assessment on the programme level with the National University of Laos (NUOL) at the 246th AUN-QA Programme Assessment.
Founded in 1996 and located in the urban area of Vientiane, NUOL is a large university offering courses and programs leading to officially recognized higher education degrees such as bachelor degrees, master degrees, doctorate degrees in several areas of study.
The development and expansion of its Faculty of Law and Political Science (FLP) is one of NUOL’s many priorities. Since 2000, FLP has been working on partnering collaboration from many organisations, as evidenced by, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), The Luxembourg Agency for Development Cooperation (LuxDev), and the Japanese International Collaboration Agency (JICA). Currently, FLP has MOUs with 7 universities.
Committed to the development and improvement of their academic and higher education quality in FLP, NUOL participated for the first time in an AUN-QA Programme Assessment, employing the thematic network’s quality services to assess two academic degree programmes from the faculty, namely: 1. Bachelor of Arts Programme in International Relations and 2. Bachelor of Political Science Programme in Governance. This collaboration is part of their efforts to enhance academic qualities, capacities and curriculum development on a programme level.

In light of the success of the 246th AUN-QA Programme Assessment, the AUN-QA interviewed NUOL personnel who attended the assessment and would like to share several impressions and experiences emerging from our fruitful discussion.

Quality assurance and internationalisation of higher education

Internationalisation and quality improvement of education is a key for higher education institutions to keep up with the pace of the ever-improving post-modern society, and quality assurance is a great assessment tool to help universities improve, strategise, and navigate through the diversifying yet increasingly integrated landscape of global higher education.

NUOL’s approach to this AUN-QA Programme Assessment stems from the same foundation. According to Dr. Douangmala Khamsongka, Head of the FLP Quality Assurance Unit, the quality assurance assessment by the AUN-QA allowed the university to pinpoint strengths and weaknesses of the curricular and the faculty for further development. On a similar note, Mr. Keosaychong​ Saysouvannavong, Head of the International Relations Department, regarded the assessment, comments and suggestions by the AUN-QA Assessors as a vital constituent to the faculty and the university’s efforts to elevate and internationalise their current academic programmes, facilities and curricular.

Effective collaboration throughout the assessment

The AUN-QA team has always acknowledged the significance of strong collaboration in delivering quality assurance services as it plays an essential part in preparing the university for the stakes and challenges that may happen during the assessment. The goal is always to enable the university personnel to showcase their programmes and accomplishments at full potential in a professional and respectful environment. This sentiment seemed to have been carried on in the 246th AUN-QA Programme Assessment based on the positive feedback from the NUOL team.

Dr. Douangmala said the entire operational process from the preparatory period leading up to the assessment itself was well-planned and professional. According to her, the suggestions from the AUN-QA Assessors were respectful but also tailored in detail for practical use for the benefit of the assessed programmes, faculty and university. For Ms. Vilay Langkavong, Head of Political Science Department, she applauded the AUN-QA team for its high levelled proficiency in collaborating with the university in making the assessment happen. She would also like to extend her appreciation to the AUN-QA Assessors in particular for the success of the assessment along with all the kind and thorough comments and suggestions that served as a looking glass reflecting all the hard work the university had put into developing the assessed programmes over the past few years.

A beginning to endless opportunities for the future

For NUOL, their success in the AUN-QA Programme Assessment is not just a one-time victory; quality assurance is more of a glorious beginning for the university to identify new challenges and opportunities as part of its mission to excel and gain recognition as a prestigious internationally standardised higher education institution.

According to Mr. Keosaychong, the faculty and the university will implement the suggestions from AUN-QA Assessors in different areas and levels of improvements, including for example improving campus facilities and promoting internship opportunities for students. Similarly, Ms. Vilay would like to explore collaborations with private universities and the private sector as part of the efforts to promote student exchange, internship, and university-industry relationships on a national and regional level. Lastly, for Dr. Douangmala, the suggestions from AUN-QA Assessors are vital in the university’s planning of future activities and priorities. Having experienced the full potential of collaborating with the AUN-QA in quality assurance, Dr. Douangmala confirmed that NUOL and FLP have already submitted three other academic programmes for a programme assessment with the thematic network set to be held in May 2022.

The AUN-QA would like to use this opportunity to extend its appreciation to NUOL for such a strong and fruitful collaboration throughout the 246th AUN-QA Programme Assessment. Holding university’s devotion in improving higher education quality and internationalisation in high regard, the AUN-QA is looking forward to working with NUOL in the near future as part of the thematic network’s pursuit to enhance higher education quality across the ASEAN region.