A critical look at key components of The University of the West Indies quality assurance system [Panel]
Perkins, Anna Kasafi
Using the Framework for Analysis of Practices in Higher Education (FAPHE) proffered by Harvey (2012), this panel critically assesses components of The University of the West Indies (UWI) academic Quality Management System (QMS), as implemented by the Quality Assurance Unit (QAU). These components are: i) the integration of institutional research data in the self-assessment process; (ii) review team selection; (iii) quality assurance of distance and online education; and (iv) work based/experiential learning. Harvey's key principles for establishing the presence of best practices-efficiency in the use of resources, being well-documented, engagement of key stakeholders, and undertaking monitoring and evaluation-is the framework for the assessment. These principles address the administrative and management concerns of policy, leadership, human resource development, and monitoring and evaluation, which have been identified elsewhere as important in developing quality in higher education. In examining these features critically, evidence is identified for the presence of best practice or gaps that need to be closed for the system to produce superior results. A mixed methodological approach is utilized; it involves undertaking a desk study of quality assurance review team reports from the various UWI campuses completed within the last five years, post-review evaluation instruments completed by review team members and heads of departments, as well as policy, and strategic planning documentation of the university and the Quality Assurance Unit. For the integration of institutional research data, a comparative review is undertaken against QA systems used in two other higher education institutions. Reference is also made to the literature on best practice.