Quality Assurance Is All About Self Assurance – And of Course Being Compliant
Fundamental to all Higher Education operations is the notion of quality assurance. This can be achieved in a range of ways – but the best process involves self-assurance – that is developing a thorough and informed approach to checking that ‘all is in order’. This can be best explored in the light of compliance.
On reflection, the approach to quality assurance (and compliance) has six (6) essential needs-
Need to Have a Clear Understanding of What Quality Actually Is All About
From the outset, it is essential that the notion of quality and the associated processes are clear and defined. My own organisation has spent considerable time exploring the key issues –
Challenges ahead - https://www.ubss.edu.au/article/the-big-five-higher-ed-challenges/
Quality and reputation -https://www.ubss.edu.au/article/the-new-dichotomy-quality-versus-reputation/
Once a clear understanding of what you are actually looking at – and how it can be achieved – you are on the right path towards self-assessment and subsequently self-assurance.
Need to Be Organisation Wide
The approach needs to be organisation-wide – that is encompassing all aspects of the organisation. At my own institution the process is endorsed and supported by the Office of the Deputy Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive Officer. This gives the process the necessary authority and priority needed to ensure a thorough exploration.
Need to Understand and Utilise the Threshold Standards
Higher Education in Australia is guided by the so-called Threshold Standards (Higher Education Standards Framework, 2021) –
Threshold Standards - https://www.ubss.edu.au/article/it-is-a-matter-of-standards/
Threshold Standards - https://www.ubss.edu.au/article/what-are-threshold-standards-and-why-are-they-important/
By mapping oneself against the standards it is possible to gain a solid understanding of strengths and weaknesses – and in the case of deficiencies act accordingly. My own organisation undergoes an audit each trimester – Audit #14 is available at –
Threshold Standards - Audit #14 - https://www.ubss.edu.au/media/4944/threshold-standards-audit-september-2023.pdf
Need to Have Access to All Relevant Materials
Access to data and information is essential. This further underlines the importance of having an organisation-wide approach and endorsement from the very top.
Need to Select a Well-Informed, Skilled Team to Assist in the Process
Essential to the process of self-assurance is engaging appropriate people with a clear understanding of what is being examined and the ability to analyse and either endorse or make recommendations on improvement needed.
My own organisation has in place a newly formed Compliance Directorate – that calls upon considerable expertise and experience to assist with the self-assurance process. The membership includes –
Emeritus Professor Clive Smallman – https://www.ubss.edu.au/our-people/emeritus-professor-clive-smallman/
Emeritus Professor Jim Mienczakowski – https://www.ubss.edu.au/our-people/emeritus-professor-jim-mienczakowski/
Adjunct Professor Andrew West – https://www.ubss.edu.au/our-people/dr-andrew-west/
Professor Craig Ellis– https://www.ubss.edu.au/our-people/adjunct-professor-craig-ellis/
Associate Professor Cyril Jankoff – https://www.ubss.edu.au/our-people/associate-professor-cyril-jankoff/
Need to Bench Mark Along the Way
The process of benchmarking is critical to understanding the self. This can be achieved in a range of ways including active membership in associations; participating in formal benchmarking initiatives across the Sector; involving experts who have considerable knowledge of the Sector; encouraging staff to be members of various informing organisations and affiliations; and, of course, employing teaching staff who work at other institutions.
Self-assurance is essential. It can be challenging and time-consuming – but it is the best way to understand how your organisation is tracking and how it compares (complies) with the necessary industry standards and norms.
Emeritus Professor Greg Whateley is the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (UBSS) and Chief Executive Officer (GCA)