Workshop on Higher Education Quality Assurance
The Maldives Qualifications Authority (MQA) has been making extra efforts to strengthen collaboration with foreign counterparts. The most recent activity carried out by MQA was conducting a one day workshop themed “Higher Education Quality Assurance” on 10 November, 2015, for 17 Afghan delegates representing Accreditation and Quality Committee of Teacher Education Directorate as well as officials of some teacher education colleges. MQA was approached by World University Service of Canada (WUSC) to conduct this workshop for Afghans officials to help establishment and implementation of an accreditation system to be used for evaluating 48 teacher training colleges in Afghanistan, citing the active role MQA is playing in the field of higher education quality assurance.
This training opportunity was part of the Teacher Certification and Accreditation of Teacher Training Institutions in Afghanistan project (TCAP). TCAP is funded by the Government of Canada and implemented by WUSC in partnership with the Afghan Ministry of Education, Teacher Education Directorate. The expectation from MQA was to add to the knowledge of the recently established Accreditation and Quality Assurance Committee. The delegation included 14 staff members of the Teacher Education Directorate and three TCAP national staff to support interpretation and logistics. In addition to TCAP’s Accreditation Advisor Dr Jim Frideres, there were two other experts from New Zealand and one expert from Scotland.
The workshop was conducted by the CEO of MQA Dr. Abdul Hannan Waheed and Director of MQA Mrs. Aminath Asra. Dr. Hannan gave a detailed overview of MQA’s functions and processes. In Dr. Hannan’s session, a particular focus was given on the technicality and practicality as well as world-wide best practice of major functions of MQA: accreditation, academic audit and qualifications recognition. Mrs. Asra’s session focused on the process and procedures of program approval, which could soon be called program accreditation. During the workshop, participants were taken on study visits to MQA and the Maldives National University (MNU).
During and after the workshop, participants engaged with the speakers and expressed their gratitude towards MQA for conducting such a very informative and useful workshop for Afghans. The Chief Guest of the workshop in the opening ceremony was the Minister of Education Dr. Aishath Shiham herself. In her speech, Minister acknowledged the effort of organizing such training for Afghans by MQA in collaboration with Ministry of Education of Afghanistan and WUSC of Canada. Minister stressed that quality assurance is at the core of a higher education system development and noted the importance of building mutual trust between key players in all regions is for development of common quality assurance standards in higher education. Describing the workshop as a milestone, Minister noted that the workshop for Afghanistan was a valuable opportunity for collaborations. Minister expressed her hope of seeing an establishment of a platform, of cooperation between higher education institutes and quality assurance agencies in Maldives, Afghanistan as well as in Canada. At the closing ceremony, participants and officials were given certificates of participation and acknowledgment.
OIC Higher Education Conference 2015
The Chief Executive Officer of the Maldives Qualifications Authority (MQA) Dr. Abdul Hannan Waheed has visited Malaysia to attend the OIC Higher Education Conference 2015. This conference was held in conjunction with the 6th Muslim World Biz 2015, Trade Exhibition & Conference, organised by OIC International Business Centre which was held from the 27-30th October at the Putra World Trade Centre, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Dr. Hannan was invited to the conference by the OIC International Business Centre as a speaker and panellist of the session 4 Liberal Education, Global Challenges and Equity Imperative. Hence, he delivered a speech in the session 4 on the topic of “Quality Assurance of Cross-border Higher Education”. His speech was based on the discussions of the Seminar on Quality Assurance of Cross-border Higher Education (QACHE) held on 22, 23 February, 2015 in Macau. This seminar was organised by Asia Pacific Quality Network (APQN) and was a sponsored project involving APQN, European Commission, European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA) and other quality assurance bodies in higher education.
In his speech, Dr. Hannan highlighted the challenges to cross-border higher education and issues related to recognition of qualifications obtained through cross-border provision. Furthermore, he proposed best quality assurance procedures suggested for QA of CBHE. The challenges highlighted by CEO included (1) bogus providers, (2) lack of collaboration between higher education quality assurance agencies, (3) lack of regulation of cross-border higher education, (4) for-profit provision of higher education as well as (5) difference between original and CHBE provision. Major issues related to recognition of qualifications through CBHE mentioned by Dr. Hannan were (1) victimization of students and (2) lack of coordination between HE QA bodies and qualifications recognition bodies. Whilst challenges to CBHE included five areas mentioned above, the best QA procedures recommended included (1) collaboration, (2) regulation, (3) CHBE licensing, (4) HE QA guidelines, (5) awareness and knowledge of government officials, (6) comply with local HE QA regulations and (7) HE QA guidance to HEIs.
UNESCO Capacity Building Workshop on the Recognition of Qualifications in Higher Education in Asia and the Pacific
The Maldives Qualifications Authority (MQA) is heavily engaged with regional and international agencies either in higher education quality assurance - in processes such as accreditation and academic audit – or qualifications recognition. The most recent such activity was carried out by Director of MQA Nazima Mohamed, who participated in the regional capacity building workshop on the recognition of qualifications in Asia and the Pacific on 21-23 October 2015 in Bangkok, Thailand. The workshop was aimed at promoting cross-border mobility of students through the ratification and implementation of the 2011 Revised Convention.
The panel discussions focused on the nature of the regional conventions and their benefits and relevance to cross-border mobility of students in Asia-Pacific. Participants were brainstormed on technical procedures to ratify the 2011 Revised Convention. Meantime, discussions were held on obstacles for ratifying the 2011 Revised Convention. Furthermore, Panel discussion were held on implementation tools of the 2011 Revised Convention as well on what UNESCO can do to support ratification and implementation: Reviewing and adapting a draft advocacy brief to support national action plans.
Participants also deliberated on outlining strategic plans to support ratification of the 2011 Revised Convention. UNESCO officials provided tips on how the 2011 Revised Convention can be adopted to address local needs. Finally, preparatory discussions for the next session, which will be the 14th Session of the Regional Committee on the Recognition of Qualifications in Higher Education, were held at the end of the workshop.
MQA inspects HEIs in Addu City and Fuvahmulah
A team of MQA visited Addu City and Fuvahmulah from 14 – 17 October, 2015. The team comprised the Chief Executive Officer of MQA Dr. Abdul Hannan Waheed, Director of MQA Aminath Asra, Administrative Officer of MQA Mr. Ahmed Ahsan and Assistant Director of TVET Authority Mr. Ali Riyaz. The purpose of the visits to both atolls was to inspect and carry out a minimal institutional audit to evaluate and assess the current status of all higher education providers located there. Whilst MQA is the approval granting authority in the Maldives for all higher education qualifications, MQA has a mandate and an interest to ensure the quality of those courses in terms of adhering to minimum quality standards declared and mentioned at the course approval stage in the course document.
The higher education Institutions (HEIs) visited in Addu were, the campuses of the Maldives National University (MNU), Villa College and MI College in Hithadhoo. In addition to that, a course delivery arrangement of the Maldives Islamic University was also inspected. The HEIs inspected in Fuvahmulah were, the campuses of Villa College and MI College as well as Zikra Institute. The areas of audit during the inspection included institutional capacity, staff information, assessment details as well as course delivery information. A number of issues were identified and professional advice and guidance was given to respective HEIs. MQA seize this opportunity to appreciate and thank all the universities and colleges and institutes involved in this audit. Also, it should be noted that Addu High School in Addu and Fuvahmulaku School in Fuvahmulah and Finance Section of the Ministry of Education contributed towards a successful completion of this trip.
CEO attends experts meeting in Philippines
The chief executive officer of MQA Dr. Abdul Hannan Waheed has just returned from Philippines after attending meetings held by Colombo Plan Staff College (CPSC). While CPSC has a focus on promoting Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET), the first meeting was the regional program on “Enhancing the Responsiveness of TVET: Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals” held from 28 – 30 September, 2015. Topics discussed were of relevance to MQA as well, because, accreditation of TVET qualifications is at the centre. CPSC has established Asia Pacific Accreditation and Certification Commission (APACC) to provide accreditation of TVET programs. When APACC accreditation was first introduced in 2007, then Maldives Accreditation Board (MAB) played an important role in developing and reviewing the APACC Accreditation Manual.
The 2nd meeting in which CEO participated was the subsequent “Eminent Experts’ Group Meeting (EEGM) held from 1 – 3 October, 2015. EEGM primarily focused on the midterm review of the CPSC Corporate Plan 2013- 2018. In addition, topics related on Quality Assurance and APACC Accreditation, were also part of the program discussions. It was a great venue to share and talk over the quality assurance and TVET accreditation scenarios and sharing of best practices, which will be very beneficial to the development of TVET quality in Maldives.
Seminar on Draft Minimum Entry Requirements for MNQF
A one day seminar was held at SHE Building on 14 September, 2015 by the Maldives Qualifications Authority (MQA). The seminar was conducted as an arrangement for stakeholder discussion on the draft Minimum Entry Requirements for the Maldives Qualifications Framework (MNQF). There are a range of qualifications across 10 levels of the MNQF. While specific entry requirements/ criteria are not specified in the MNQF itself, a separate document has been approved by MQA’s Governing Board named “Minimum Entry Requirements for MNQF”.
The stakeholders participated included universities, colleges and tertiary institutes that are most active in the Maldives in providing MQA approved academic qualifications. In addition to that, major government bodies in higher education such as the Department of Higher Education (DHE) and Quality Assurance Department also participated in the seminar. In fact a high level delegation from DHE participated comprising the Deputy Minister of Education Mr. Azleen Ahmed and Director General Mrs. Fathimath Amira.
In the opening ceremony, the Chief Executive Officer Dr. Abdul Hannan Waheed explained the need for the revision process providing some examples of entry requirements that are used across the globe. The chief guest of the opening ceremony was the State Minister of Education Dr. Abdulla Nazeer, who gave a very informative speech in which he elaborated on the importance of revising existing standards to address the ever-changing higher education landscape.
The outcome of the seminar was very productive as all the stakeholders agreed on the proposed suggestions for the amendment of the current minimum entry requirement. The main rational for the amendment was, to eliminate elements that are inconsistent and elements that compromise higher education quality from the existing document and thus make it a more consistent document throughout.
MQA officials inspect higher education institutions in GDh. Thinadhoo
A team of the Maldives Qualifications Authority (MQA) conducted a site-visit to a number of higher education providers located in GDh. Thinadhoo in the far-reach of the country from 3 – 6 September, 2015. The team from MQA comprised the Chief Executive Officer Dr. Abdul Hannan Waheed, Director Mrs. Aminath Asra and Administrative Officer Ahmed Ahsan.
The main objective of the visit to Thinadhoo was to inspect the Hope Institute; an institute aspiring to start a Diploma course. Seizing the opportunity, the MQA team also managed to make site-visits to the Thinadhoo campuses of both the National University and MI College. Useful information was gathered from all three providers. Also, crucially, much needed guidance was given to all the three institutions to improve and enhance quality provision of higher education qualifications approved by MQA. In the process, input was also provided to the University and two colleges to improve the institutional capacity.
Such visits are part of MQA’s new effort to work closer with stakeholders, supervise their work and guide them towards providing quality assured qualifications. An important intention of this initiative is, to ensure safeguard of students and minimize reasons and activities that victimize students. Thinadhoo visit helped strengthen MQA’s relationship with the institutions visited.
Chief Executive Officer visits the counterpart in Malaysia
The Chief Executive Officer of the Maldives Qualifications Authority Dr. Abdul Hannan Waheed completed an internship at the Malaysian Qualifications Agency from 9 – 14 August, 2015. Dr. Hannan was accompanied by Director of MQA Nazima Mohamed. The internship program conducted is a regularly arranged networking exercise by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency. The activity encompasses a thorough briefing of the major functions carried out by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency.
The major functions that were outlined in the internship sessions were institutional audit and programme accreditation. During the programme, the participants were taken to an actual audit team visit to a university as observers. Hence, firsthand experience of how Malaysians go about assuring and regulating higher education quality was gained through the internship activities.
State Minister of Education Dr. Abdulla Nazeer also took part in the internship alongside the team from the Maldives Qualifications Authority. Other participants were two officials from the Southern African country of Swaziland as well as an official from Bhutan. On the sidelines of the internship, CEO also managed to hold important discussions with the Malaysian Qualifications Agency regarding some arising issues that requires clarification from the Malaysian side. Also, a visit was conducted to Mahsa University to discuss about some of their programmes.
MQA official completes internship in Malaysia
The director of the Maldives Qualifications Authority (MQA) Mrs. Aminath Asra has just returned from Malaysia after completing a 10 day internship at the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA) from 17 – 26 May, 2015. The internship was funded through the World Bank funded project to strengthen the Maldives Qualifications Authority. The objective of the internship in Malaysia is to learn from the Malaysian experience in developing and enhancing the higher education (HE) quality assurance (QA) system as Malaysia is acknowledged in the region as a country pioneered a HE QA system.
Mrs. Asra’s internship at MQA Malaysia included information sharing sessions on the overview of the higher education and quality assurance system in Malaysia, Malaysian Qualifications Framework and evaluation for equivalency and Malaysian Qualifications Register. The sessions also provided briefing on quality framework with processes and procedures, institutional audit and quality assurance support services. She also participated in the accreditation team of MQA (Malaysia) to Kolej Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman during its academic audit exercise.
Training Workshop: External Audit Teams for Institutional Audit
A one day training workshop for possible future institutional auditors was held at Hotel Jen on 24 May, 2015 by the Maldives Qualifications Authority (MQA). The workshop named as “Training Workshop: External Audit Teams for Institutional Audit” was conducted with the funding of the World Bank by the consultant Bastian Baumann. It was the 2nd workshop MQA conducted in as few as 3 days to strengthen the higher education quality assurance system in the Maldives.
The main purpose of the workshop was to train a pool of possible future auditors to familiarize with the new institutional audit guideline being developed. The participants included some academics working at higher education provision institutions, current subject experts involved in course document review and some people who went to Australia for a short-term training facilitated by MQA, which was funded by Australian government. The participants are expected to play a role in future institutional audit teams.
In the opening ceremony, MQA’s Chief Executive Officer Dr. Abdul Hannan Waheed gave a presentation about institutional audit, explaining the process from a technical and academic point of view. The chief guest Minister of State of Education Mr. Ahmed Shafeeu also, outlined the current higher education quality assurance regime in the Maldives and emphasised the importance of institutional audits as a continuous quality enhancement process with HE QA. The State Minister also noted the usefulness of developing such guidelines in consultation with relevant stakeholders.
Mock interview sessions for audit panels were conducted during the workshop as a training methodology to familiarise with possible issues and areas that need to be aware in institutional audits. In the closing ceremony, the chief guest Mr. Shafeeu acknowledged the need for a legislative arrangement for MQA to operate, so that the HE QA regulatory body can function as a fully fledged system. At the end of the workshop, attendance certificates were awarded to all participants.
Strengthening Higher Education Quality Assurance Processes in the Maldives
As part of a series of workshops Maldives Qualifications Authority (MQA) have started conducting recently, a workshop named “Strengthening Higher Education Quality Assurance Processes in the Maldives” was held at Hotel Jen on 21 May, 2015 The workshop was orgainesed by MQA and supported by a consultant, namely Bastian Baumann, provided by the World Bank through an ongoing project funded by the Bank. The audience of the workshop again was the most active higher education (HE) providers in the Maldives; the University, colleges and tertiary institutes. The workshop was part of a carefully planned and organised developmental process for strengthening the higher education quality assurance system in the Maldives by focusing on implementing the roles and responsibilities placed at the Maldives Qualifications Authority in its mandate. Within the last couple of months, there were two workshops conducted by MQA in collaboration with the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) to develop a ‘Higher Education Quality Assurance Policy of Maldives’.
This workshop was actually the start of a speedy implementation of what is actually outlined in the ‘Higher Education Quality Assurance Policy of Maldives’. The main processes mentioned in the policy, are accreditation and academic audit. The current workshop was actually to share the guidelines developed in this process by MQA in collaboration with the consultant, with stakeholders of MQA. Three main guidelines developed are (1) Guidelines for Provisional Accreditation, (2) Guidelines for Programme Accreditation, and (3) Guidelines for Institutional Audit.
The chief guest of the opening ceremony as well as the closing ceremony was the minister of State of Education Mr. Ahmed Shafeeu who gave a speech explaining the current higher education landscape in the Maldives as well as the need for a robust quality assurance system for higher education including a rigorous institutional audit mechanism. The Chief Executive Officer of MQA Dr. Abdul Hannan Waheed gave a historical background of how MQA transformed to where it is now and how these guidelines have been developed in relation to the mandate of MQA and the HE QA policy which is being developed. Mr. Bastian presented an overall explanation of different HE QA processes and how it is encompassed in the current guidelines being developed. The workshop was conducted by the consultant Bastian in three sessions, one for each guideline. Participants were awarded attendance certificates by the chief guest at the end of the workshop.
Validation of the Draft Higher Education Quality Assurance Policy
The follow-up workshop of “Validation of the Draft Higher Education (HE) Quality Assurance (QA) Policy was held on 13 April, 2015, at SHE Building, Male’, Maldives. This workshop was a follow-up of the workshop “Review of Higher Education Quality Assurance Policy”, which was held on 13 April, 2015, at Youth Centre, Male’, Maldives. As the first workshop, the latest workshop was also organised by the Maldives Qualification Authority (MQA) in collaboration with the Commonwealth of Learning (COL), Canada.
The workshop was aimed at validating the draft higher education quality assurance policy, which has been developed after the first workshop by the COL consultant Dr. Phetolo Modiega with input from MQA. As most of the participants from the Maldives National University, Colleges and tertiary institutes also represented their institutions in the first workshop, the workshop facilitated constructive comments and feedback from the groups. The policy areas included in the policy document are reflective of the MQA mandate outlined by the President’s Office. Hence, the policy document unpacks what is in the MQA mandate and provides clear details of the roles and responsibilities of MQA.
The Deputy Minister of Education, who is in-charge of the Department of Higher Education Mr. Azleen Ahmed, was the chief guest of both opening and closing ceremonies. In his speech, Mr. Azleen appreciated the involvement and support of the Commonwealth of Learning in strengthening the higher education quality assurance regime in the Maldives and also noted MQA’s efforts. The Chief Executive Officer of MQA Dr. Abdul Hannan Waheed spoke of the roadmap for approval and implementation of the HE QA policy being developed. At the closing ceremony, the chief guest Deputy Minister awarded attendance certificates to the participants.
Review of Higher Education Quality Assurance Policy
A workshop themed “Review of Higher Education Quality Assurance Policy”, was held on 17 March, 2015, at Youth Centre, Male’, Maldives by the Maldives Qualification Authority (MQA) in collaboration with the Commonwealth of Learning (COL), Canada. The Commonwealth of Learning is an inter-governmental organization of Commonwealth.
MQA initiated the process of a review of current policies of higher education quality assurance process with the guidance of the Minister of Education Dr. Aishath Shiham. The Commonwealth of Learning readily supported this initiative by providing consultancy spearheaded by Dr. Godson Gatsha, Education Specialist, Higher Education, COL. The consultant selected by COL for this project is Phetolo Modiega from Botswana.
The Minister of State of Education Mr. Ahmed Shafeeu was the chief guest who delivered a speech in the opening ceremony of the workshop. Mr. Shafeeu acknowledged the complicated area of higher education quality assurance and the need for more robust policies that will unpack the current MQA mandates. COL’s education specialist Dr. Godson Gatsha gave a presentation explaining COL’s activities and the commitment to finish this project with a relevant policy document. The Chief Executive Officer of MQA Dr. Abdul Hannan Waheed also spoke of the process and how it materialised this far by gathering MQA’s stakeholders to get their input in formulating a higher education quality assurance policy.
The workshop gathered the most active higher education providers that deliver MQA approved higher education programmes or courses. There was a diverse group of academics representing the Maldives National University, Colleges and tertiary institutes. The activities handled by the consultant Phetolo Modiega intended specific policy formulation in groups. The groups discussed and presented their inputs, ideas and opinion on various quality issues that need to be addressed in the future policy document. At the end of the workshop, participants were awarded attendance certificates by the chief guest.