Quality assurance in Philippine Higher Education
Mona Dumlao-Valisno, ph.D. Commissioner, Commission on Higher Education THE term quality assurance refers to mechanisms and processes used to lead to the maintenance and improvement of quality outcomes. It also has come to mean a guarantee or certification that particular standards are being met. Thus, quality assurance is largely about the systematic management procedures and processes adopted to ensure achievement of a given quality, or continued improvement in quality.
In countries like the United States, United Kingdom and the Philippines, the promotion of quality in higher education is pursued by means of the accreditation process. In the UK, the quality assurance program gives the highest priority to inputs like procedures which improve the quality of teaching and learning. The criteria used for evaluating are focused more on the teachinglearning process itself. This is possible because all the higher education institutions in the UK have the same mode of governance, since they are all owned and managed by the government, except for one private university.
It can be noted that the quality assurance program in the UK has been very effective, because it employs the "carrot-and-stick" approach with the top-performing educational institutions getting bigger budgets form the Higher Education Funding Council (HEFC). In the Philippines, the higher education system exhibits many features of the American accreditation model. Funding assistance is given to an accrediting body such as the Federation of Accrediting Associations of the Philippines (FAAP) in order to facilitate voluntary accreditation of higher education institutions. At the present time, the Higher Education Development Fund (or HEDF) administered by the Philippines' Commission on Higher Education is now a tool for upgrading the quality of education by using merit as the basic criterion in the allocation of financial assistance to the country's colleges and universities. Assistance is granted on the basis of the institutions' capability, the quality of their programs, as well as their potential for upgrading the quality of their educational services. In effect, the HEDF is designed to accomplish for the Philippines what the Higher Education Funding Council has been able to achieve in the UK, by way of making its educational institutions at par with worldclass standards.
The Commission on Higher Education, aware of the current state of higher education, has so far been pursuing major development initiatives and strategies to achieve higher quality towards excellence in higher education. The following are the major reforms, programs and projects being implemented to raise the standards of quality of higher education in the country:
* Operationalization of the Technical Panels. Assisting the CHED in setting standards and in program monitoring and evaluation are the Technical Panels organized in ten clusters of disciplines, namely: 1) agriculture education; 2) business and management education; 3) engineering, technology and architecture education; 4) health profession education; 5) humanities, social sciences and communication; 6) information technology; 7) maritime education; 8) science and mathematics; 9) teacher education and 10) legal education. These Technical Panels serving as advisory to the CHED are composed of experts, senior, specialists, academicians and practitioners in their respective fields.
* Standards Formulation. The CHED is continuously revitalizing higher education curricula and institutional programs not only by developing new policies, and standards but also by reviewing and updating existing policies and standards for the bachelor's, masters and doctorate degrees in the different disciplines. These policies, standards and guidelines embody the minimum requirements for the different programs in terms of curriculum, qualifications of deans, faculty and staff, physical facilities such as classrooms and laboratories, equipment, library facilities and other support facilities and services. …