Quality assurance (QA) is an important component in academic vis-à-vis an institution of higher learning. When we talk about an institution, many expect it to be a sacred place where knowledge is churned and transacted from a master to novice learners. If that is the focus of an institution, then the majority would expect that it performs its function well and is of quality.
But what does quality really mean? Quality means many things to different people. It brings no meaning if the quality by whatever definition is not being stressed by another party confirming that yes, it is of quality by certain qualifying standard. This effort is what is being addressed as assuring quality, and normally it is being delivered by a third party in order to avoid bias and conflict of interest in the process of confirming the level of quality aka standard.
When it involves a third party, another issue that will crop up is cost of monitoring, who should bear the cost? In most Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL), it is suggested by MQA standards for them to have an outfit looking after internal quality assurance prior to having a third-party audit. Every institution in Malaysia must have this prior to requesting MQA to come and accredit their programme. Since in Malaysia we have several types of universities and institutions of higher learning, it is difficult to assure quality of programmes on its own, so there is a need to form a consortium or network of quality assurance officers so as to become a platform to share, learn and express their concern on issues related to programme accreditations in a friendly manner.
MyQAN was established in 2015 with office bearers consisting of a president, a deputy president, a treasurer, a secretary and eleven committee members and was successfully registered under ROS in 2017. Today, it is a legit society that takes care of the issues on accreditations of programmes and institutional matters. The reference guides used are those being issued by MQA, Department of Higher Education and Professional Bodies under the MQA Act, AUKU, UiTM Act, Act 555 and Boards of related professional bodies.
MyQAN organised a comprehensive and inclusive seminar on external and internal quality assurance, in short SieQA yearly since 2015. It is a two-day seminar where the first day is a workshop designed to help member universities to send in their representatives to learn on issues relating to external and internal quality assurance matters (be it common issues and or new future anticipated issues). Second day of the seminar showcase either challenges, opportunities or threats to QA in Higher Education whereby points of view from the regulators like MOE, MQA, Professional Bodies and Representative from international QA bodies will be staged in front of the 120 over participants from member and non-member institutions.
Apart from the seminar, MyQAN also formed several subcommittee like Self-Accrediting Universities Subnetwork (SAUS) that focus on issues relating to managing self-accrediting universities, subcommittee on training that focuses on issues relating to the need to train institution’s internal programme evaluators, subcommittee on Research that focuses on the past and future of QA practices around the world, subcommittee on networking with international QA bodies and a subcommittee on this MyQAN newsletter.
This newsletter is a platform to document and highlight the past and future work of our society. We envision for related stakeholders to come and view and participate in our future activities in order to keep up with the changes within and out of the IHL ecosystem to stay relevant in making sure or assuring the public and relevant stakeholders that Malaysian Higher Educations do practise a quality management ecosystem that produces quality holistic graduates. It is also the role of this society to help bridge the gap in knowledge about any changes in quality standards that must be addressed by member institutions. A platform providing a safe environment to share and learn is encouraged, whereby MyQAN meets every two months to investigate any relevant matters.
As the president of the society for 2018/2020 term I would like to extend our welcome to all universities and college universities to come aboard to make this network a better platform to enhance and co-create the quality of our Malaysian higher education graduates.
Professor Dr Roziah Mohd Janor