Quality assurance, 10 years on
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The achievements of City University's Quality Assurance Committee (QAC) over the past decade were showcased at a 10th anniversary ceremony cum poster exhibition on 19 March. More than 100 staff, students and guests gathered in the Multi-media Conference Room to celebrate the occasion.
Established in March 1993, the QAC-the first committee of its kind in a tertiary institution in Hong Kong-aims to promote and foster a culture of quality assurance in the University. "The Committee takes pride in the fact that quality assurance is an explicit feature of our University, and that a mature system for this work is in place," said Professor William Wang, QAC Chairman and Professor (Chair) in the Department of Electronic Engineering and the Department of Chinese, Translation and Linguistics, at a recent Senate meeting. In his opening remarks at the anniversary ceremony, Professor Wang thanked a number of former and current senior management staff for their contribution and hard work in laying the foundation for a robust quality assurance system at the University, in particular former Vice-Chancellor Professor Y C Cheng and former Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor W K Kam for their initiative and foresight in recommending the establishment of the QAC and a framework for quality assurance in CityU. Professor Wang also thanked the University community for their support of the QAC.City University is committed to the provision of a high-quality education and learning experience for all our students, said the President, Professor H K Chang. "A university must have a sound quality assurance system to support teaching and learning; otherwise it won't be able to be accountable to our stakeholders, including the community that funds the University," he said. Joining Professor Chang and Professor Wang at the ceremony were several former and present QAC members, including Professor Enoch Young, Director of the University of Hong Kong's School of Professional and Continuing Education; Professor L K Chan, Dean of the Faculty of Business; Dr Richard Armour, former Senior Assistant Registrar; and Professor Edmond Ko, Vice-President (Undergraduate Education) and Dean of Students.
"The very first thing we have to do is to establish a culture for quality throughout the University. Quality assurance is an institutional and collective responsibility."
~ Professor Enoch Young
QAC Founding Chairman (1993-94)
"Students, faculty and the community are life-long learning partners. Our staff demonstrate a strong commitment to provide quality education for students in a caring learning environment."
~Professor L K Chan
QAC Chairman (1995-98)
"The education scene in Hong Kong moves so fast that we must carefully adapt and extend our framework to new issues on the horizon."
~Professor William Wang
Current QAC Chairman (since 1999)
"Quality assurance systems are designed to promote continuous improvement. Our approach is to delegate 'ownership' and responsibility for quality assurance processes to the academic staff and students directly involved in teaching and learning."
~Professor Edmond Ko
Vice-President (Undergraduate Education)
and Dean of Students
"A university must have a sound quality assurance system to support teaching and learning; otherwise it won't be able to be accountable to our stakeholders,"
~Professor H K Chang
President and University Professor
Learning experiencesThe ceremony featured three lively talks on student learning and teaching excellence, facilitated by Dr Moez Limayem, Associate Professor in the Department of Information Systems who has received several prestigious teaching excellence awards at the national and international level, in addition to the University's Teaching Excellence Award in 2000-01. A group of School of Law students who spoke about their study tour to Shanghai was followed by representatives of the Student Ambassador Programme, who shared their out-of-the-class learning experiences. Finally, students of Dr Gertrude Tinker Sachs, Assistant Professor in the Department of English and Communication and a Teaching Excellence Award winner of the University in 1999-2000, provided examples to demonstrate their teacher's vision and commitment to enhancing quality education. The talks ended on a high note when student representatives surprised Dr Tinker Sachs by presenting to her a bouquet of flowers in appreciation of her dedication to teaching.
What is quality assurance?
Quality assurance is defined by the University Grants Committee (UGC) as "the maintenance of the highest possible standards, both in teaching and learning, and in research and commensurate with an institution's agreed role and mission." Simply speaking, quality assurance refers to assuring and enhancing education quality and academic standards. Under the Senate's approved principles, policies and practices, the QAC's main role is to establish arrangements and implement measures to promote quality assurance of teaching, learning and assessment. Areas of work in this respect range from programme planning and development, benchmarking of academic standards, and teaching evaluation, to rewarding outstanding teachers, and supporting activities to enrich student life.
In the past 10 years, landmark developments of the QAC include:
1993, approved a set of principles for quality assurance with a shift from a top-down system to a system which emphasized local "ownership" of quality assurance backed up by an improvement-oriented structure.
1993-94, established the Quality Enhancement Fund to support projects for the enhancement of teaching and learning: a total of 214 projects has been supported.
1993-94, introduced the first scheme for Teaching Excellence Awards: 311 nominations have since been received and 49 teachers honoured.
Since 1995, implemented the Internal Quality Audit scheme to ensure quality through peer review: two rounds of comprehensive audit have been conducted in 1995-96 and 2000-02, helping academic units to internalize quality assurance processes consciously and conscientiously.
1995, established the Quality Campus Life Fund to support student-based activities that enhance the quality of university experience and outside classroom learning: a total of 42 activities has been funded.
March 2002, the University Senate approved an integrated framework of Principles, Policies and Practices (the 3Ps) for the quality assurance of academic programmes, teaching, learning and student assessment.
September 2002, the QAC initiated and completed a study on bias factors influencing student ratings of teaching: the study proves that items in the teaching feedback questionnaire adopted in the University are valid and reliable measures of teaching effectiveness, and student ratings of teaching are credible.
Semester A 2002-03, developed a system for online evaluation of teaching.
Professor Wang said the QAC will update its policies and activities with a greater focus on student learning to keep pace with the recent shift of emphasis from the processes of teaching to the outcomes of learning. Since an integral part of learning takes place outside the classroom, the Committee is looking into ways to review the quality assurance relating to student-based programmes in a more integrated fashion.
In addition, the QAC will keep in view the increasing number of self-financed programmes and collaborative programmes, especially with mainland universities. The Committee will consider how to maintain the same consistency between curricula of diverse levels, funding source and origin.