Islamabad: The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has clarified a news item published in a section of the press regarding HEC’s briefing to a Senate body about performance of several universities.
The Senate Standing Committee on Federal Education and Professional Training was briefed on the performance of Quality Enhancement Cells (QECs) of the Universities that were assessed during 2019-20, and not the overall performance of the universities.
The measurement standards/criteria for QECs and Institutional Performance are different. The yearly progress of QECs is measured on six quantifiable standards whereas the performance of universities is reviewed against 11 defined standards. The news regarding performance of the universities has been misinterpreted by some newspapers.
The QECs are annually assessed by HEC’s Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) for their performance against the defined parameters. The Yearly Progress Reports of QECs for Financial Year 2018-19 were finalized that were provisionally assessed during 2019-20. Every university provides Yearly Progress Report against the given criteria and targets, which are (i) Conducting self-review of Institutional Performance Evaluation, (ii) Self-Assessment of Programmes, (iii) Accreditation of Programmes by the Accreditation Councils, (iv) Conduct Self Review MS/MPhil & PhD Programme Review from HEC, Self-Review, NOCs of MS/MPhil & PhD programmes, (v) Strengthening of QECs Secretariat, Memberships of Statutory Bodies & International QA bodies, Conducting of Awareness Seminars/workshops, and (vi) Implementation of HEC’s Quality Assurance guidelines and policies.
The QECs play a key role in sensitizing the university administration and faculty towards the Quality Assurance issues of the university education and create awareness about the need for Self-Assessment by the programme managers in the universities.
As COVID-19 pandemic hit Pakistan in February 2020, the degree awarding institutions were forced to close their on-campus activities, resultantly the planned activities of QECs were also halted including finalization of assessment of Yearly Progress Reports of 2018-19, conducting Progress Review Meetings and Capacity Building workshops for QECs.
The overall performance of a Higher Education Institution (HEI) is reviewed periodically after every five years against 11 defined standards of Institutional Performance Evaluation (IPE). The standards are namely, Mission Statement and Goals, Planning and Evaluation, Organization and Governance, Integrity, Faculty, Students, Institutional Resources, Academic Programmes and Curricula, Public Disclosure and Transparency, Assessment & Quality Assurance and Student Support Service.
Review visits are planned, data is collected from the focused HEIs in the form of University Portfolio Report (UPR). A panel is nominated by QAA, which conducts review visit, evaluates the HEI against the defined standards and the report is shared with the University/HEI for submitting Compliance Implementation Plan (CIP) to QAA. QAA follow-up with the respective university for implementation of the recommendations made in the review report of the university.
The impact of quality assurance can be seen in terms of taking responsibility. Universities are building quality culture on the basic principle where excellence is everyone’s responsibility. QAA has endeavored to set the tone to create a quality culture and quality consciousness among the faculty members and administrative staff. Over the years, documentation and record-keeping for academic matters have improved. Universities are implementing the concept of course files which is necessary for building good practices. Universities are trying to consistently hold statutory meetings as per their statutory requirement. Infrastructure and facilities have been improved. Universities are taking responsibility for conducting IPE with a consistent effort to institutionalize self-assessment and improvement process within HEIs.