ASG-QA Taskforce: A new phase for QA agency reviews
By Jeffy Mukora, HAQAA2 ASG-QA Taskforce.
The HAQAA2 Task Force for the ASG-QA, is composed of eight members with a wealth of expertise in both internal and external quality assurance in Africa. Many of the members were involved in the drafting of the ASG-QA or in the implementation of other activities of HAQAA1 between 2015 and 2018.
In September 2020, the Task Force held three online focus groups to explore the experiences from the external reviews of quality assurance agencies and consultancy visits to ministries of higher education, which took place in 2018 under HAQAA1. The reviews and consultancy visits served to support the implementation of the African Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance (ASG-QA) in African external quality assurance frameworks.
Two of the focus groups (one in English, one in French) were aimed at representatives of the participating agencies and ministries (14 participants from 7 different countries) and one was aimed at the experts that conducted the reviews (8 participants from 8 different African and European countries).
The participants discussed how the methodology of the agency reviews could be improved, challenges in using the ASG-QA, and outcomes of the reviews. All of the participating agencies and ministries commented that the review process had been useful – to validate existing arrangements and to provide external advice and recommendations for further development. Several participants provided examples of concrete changes that had come as a result of the exercise.
In terms of possible improvements to the methodology, the main topics discussed included the need for additional training for agencies and experts, clarification of some aspects of the ASG-QA, better support for the experts to understand the local context, and support for agencies and ministries to follow up on the outcomes of the reviews and consultancy visits.
The outcomes of the focus groups are being combined with the results of surveys to the agencies, ministries and experts, and an analysis of the review reports, which were also conducted by the Task Force in summer 2020. This information is being used to refine the methodology for the next round of agency reviews taking place in 2021 and to develop training for agencies, ministries, and experts.So far, eight agencies and ministries from across Africa have registered for a review or consultancy visit. Applications are still being accepted and further information is available here.
The focus groups also served as an opportunity for African agencies and ministries to exchange information and experiences on recent developments and current challenges in external quality assurance in their respective countries, including financial sustainability and dealing with the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The same Task Force is also preparing a Users’ Guide for the ASG-QA. The publication will include additional guidance on each of the standards of the ASG-QA, including case examples of how the standards can be implemented in various national and educational contexts. Furthermore, the Users’ Guide will clarify how the ASG-QA relate to existing national and regional standards that are already established across Africa. It is hoped that the Guide will provide practical support to higher education institutions, quality assurance agencies and national authorities in developing their quality assurance frameworks in line with the continental standards.