5 October 2023

Climbing Higher to Institutional Assessments with AUN-QA: International Conference Agenda 2

Patitin Lertnaikiat
AUN Programme Officer;

Earlier this year in July, AUN-QA officially announced the launch of the Guide to AUN-QA Assessment at Institutional Level V3.0. That announcement can be found through the AUN website here, or if you are only interested in the guide, it can also be found through the resources section of the website

Here is a quick recap on the history of AUN-QA and institutional assessments. The first one ever was conducted in January 2017 and was utilizing the version 2.0 of the guide at the time. The IAs were halted due to the recent events of the pandemic and are now scheduled to resume in 2024 and onwards. During that hiatus, the Revision Committee has been carrying out large efforts to update the guide to what is now Version 3.0.

So what is new to Version 3.0? Assoc. Prof. Dr. Tan Kay Chuan, AUN-QA Technical Expert, and Chief of Quality Officer to the AUN-QA, National University of Singapore, was at the AUN-QA International Conference 2023 to present this new guide to the audience and show what the future holds for AUN-QA in regards to institutional assessments. 

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First, starting off with a major change from V2.0 to V3.0, which is fixing the issue of words that could be confused with multiple interpretations. That is no longer the case with V3.0 as there are now clear-cut explanations for all 60 requirements, resulting in improved consistency and understanding. Overall, the guide also saw plenty of streamlining in criterias and reduction in redundancy, resulting in about 40% reduction in criterias and 45% reduction in requirements. 

Beyond the guide is the vision and mission to move from only programme assessments towards including institutional assessments into the quality assurance culture. This involves cascading this initiative from the top of the management all the way down to the staff of the universities. For this to be successful, there needs to be an effective management structure. Communication should be effective on all levels, vertical and horizontal. Responsibility should also be given to the lowest level because staff also need empowerment which will allow all to be their best and develop in the QA field.

Why should universities consider doing institutional assessments? They must ensure the people that excellent quality education is being provided. Dr. Tan Kay Chuan also gave two strong factors to consider, recognition and reputation, which often comes from rankings. Rankings are of great importance because of the benefits that come from placing highly whether it be financial reasons, reputation, recognition, or guaranteeing the public that the education provided is of top quality. There are many factors that can determine the end result of the ranking, but Dr. Tan points out that relationships account for 50% of the ranking. Afterall, reputation and recognition is all about what others say about you.

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Universities have to look beyond what the costs are now and think about the benefits in the future. Institutional assessments can improve programme curriculum designs and it can provide systemic quality assurance, all done in the long term. Financially, quality brings students, reputation and recognition brings benefactors, sponsors, or other potential supporters of similar nature, and most importantly a well designed institutional system ensures sustainability.

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The best part? It is all happening right now! The new guideline is already publicly available (refer to the links above) and the training workshops from the AUN-QA team are currently ongoing. The roadmap for assessors and universities aspiring for this with AUN-QA starts from Tier 1 training then going all the way to Tier 3 before commencing actual institutional assessments. So, will institutional assessments continue again soon with AUN-QA? Absolutely. And you bet there will certainly be coverage on the return of it!