Quality Assurance at La Sagesse University
The quest for excellence and student satisfaction represents an historic commitment and strategy of higher education foundation. The medieval universities were devoted to learning. Nowadays, they need to cover not only learning, but also research and entrepreneurial activities. This expansion of activities shows the need to develop the quality management.
The quality management aims to develop a "quality Culture" where the quality is considered to be the responsibility of everyone. The three spheres of quality management are:
- Quality planning
- Quality control
- Quality assurance
The quality planning selects procedures or standards for a particular purpose. The quality control ensures that procedures are followed. Quality assurance, in the glossary of education and training, refers to a continuous assessment process (assessment, monitoring, secure, maintain and improve) of the quality of a system of management in higher education, human resources or a program.
The quality is subjective and can be defined in different ways, like perfection, ownership, continuous improvement in performance. Applied to higher education, quality means relevance (suitability for use) of the methods, processes and systems compared with the objectives or goals. Understood in this way, quality is checked as the achievement of the objectives.
- Quality culture
The Culture of quality includes measures aimed at the individual and collective commitment to maintaining and improving the quality.
- Quality assurance
A comprehensive term referring to a continuous assessment process (assessment, monitoring, secure, maintain and improve) of the systems of education, institutions, and programs management.
The "quality assurance system" is based on a concept that has become a standard in the assessment of quality. This concept encompasses the quality management and improvement of quality. It can refer to the QA (Quality Assurance) of an establishment of higher education system; or to the national system of quality assurance of higher education implemented by a Department or a public body.
- Quality control
Process of systematic review of an institution or program to determine if acceptable standards of education and infrastructure are maintained and strengthened.
- Improving the quality
The results that an institution expects, once implemented a plan to monitor and improve the quality of its programs. The quality improvement is a continuous process.
- Evaluation of the quality
The evaluation is the systematic assessment and comparison with targets. It can also be a "measure" of performance, against a set of criteria.
There are several types of evaluation. These types are used to evaluate three different targets:
- The Organization and its governance
- Human resources
a) Internal evaluation or self-assessment
Process carried out under the responsibility of those who work on the breast of an institution, through the collection of administrative data, the questioning of students, teachers and other staff members. It can be considered a collective institutional thinking (brainstorming) and an opportunity for the improvement of the quality. Internal quality assessment is the cornerstone of higher education.
b) External evaluation
The process by which an external body specialized collects data, information and evidence about an institution or a program, in order to make a statement about its quality. The external evaluation is usually conducted by a team of external experts or inspectors.
The word accreditation (Latin ad + credere) proves something commendable and acknowledge publicly its evidence in what concerns the external criteria. Accreditation usually refers to a formal approval of higher education institutions and programs or the allocation of different quality labels to institutions and programs. Accreditation results in an institution or an accredited program. In some countries, it transmits an institutional authority to offer specific programs.
Audit is an independent external evaluation to determine if a QA system complies with the stated objectives, is effective and fits its purpose. The audit does not address the objectives or results of operations as such but evaluates the process the institution uses to manage and improve the quality of its teaching and other activities.
- Norms and standards
The level of requirements and conditions that must be met by institutions or programs accredited or certified by a body of insurance or the accreditation of quality. These conditions imply expectations of quality, achievement, effectiveness, cost-effectiveness and sustainability.
Certification is the verification and validation of a level reached or status. It often includes a certificate of standard or state reached. The certificate may be granted by the Rector, the client (students and administrative body) or a third party (an external certifier accredited).
- Standards for the insurance of the internal quality of higher education institutions
- Policy and procedures for quality assurance
- Approval, monitoring and periodic review of programs
- Evaluation of the students
- Assessment of the quality of teaching staff
- Evaluation of the system of governance
- Information systems
- Standards for institutions of higher education external quality assurance
- Use of quality assurance procedures internal
- Development of external quality assurance processes
- processes adapted to the use (relevance of the process)
- Monitoring and periodicity
- Independence and transparency
A SWOT analysis is usually a starting point, allowing the institution to define the statement of its mission and vision as a result appropriate.
SWOT is an acronym for:
- Strong points
- Weak points
It is also an excellent practice to involve all the members of the institution in the early stages of the introduction of the culture of quality, creating different communication flows, identify a few champions and stimulate the exchange of good ideas. All this should be accomplished in a transparent manner, with proper documentation and a set of instruments to measure and compare the results of the activities within the institution (KPI = key performance indicators, or KPIs).
Once the early stages have been completed, an information system should be established within the institution which promotes the communication flow. This allows senior managers to better face the environment evolving institutions today.
In addition to the SWOT analysis, a clear strategy of the institution must be established and disseminated. This strategy concerns governance in General, as well as governance within each faculty and Department. The strategy may be short-term (annual or five-year). It is a plan to improve the weak points, enhance strengths, exploit the opportunities and eliminate threats. Any strategy must be approved by the departments and Directors concerned. Any strategy must be periodically revised and corrected. It is a large section of any accreditation document.
Various units are necessary as a support structure for the quality processes. It is often recommended to have the following units within the institution:
- Quality unit: performs the function of an internal auditor and provides reports to the Council of the University
- Research Office: this unit has a supporting role for institutional management and planning through the analysis of data. The results of this analysis should be disseminated by showing the strengths and weaknesses in the various units and activities. This requires a rigorous and regular data from different units collection.
- Service information or IT: facilitates the collection and analysis of data that helps the development of performance indicators, statistical studies, and provides the information necessary for the office of research.
It is always necessary to reiterate the need for the commitment and goodwill of the Rectorate, Deans, committees and boards to create, spread and succeed a culture of quality in the institution.
Current status of quality within the ULS
Sagesse University is aware of the need to catch up with the progress achieved by the institutions of higher education on the quality level.
In 2012, a draft law was formulated by the Lebanese Ministry of Education and higher education, and subject to parliamentary committees for discussion and study. The law consists on the creation of a Lebanese instance responsible for guaranteeing the quality assurance in the institutions of higher education in Lebanon.
In October 2012, the ULS decided to implement a quality assurance office among the administrative departments, which is responsible for coordinating and promoting activities and initiatives related to this theme.
To initiate a process of insurance quality, leading eventually to an accreditation of programs of the University, the QA Office sought the opinion and the advice of the experts in the field at the international level, which led to various recommendations. In close collaboration and coordination with the Rector, the QA of the ULS Office maintained the following actions:
- A Committee was created within the ULS, with Deans and officials of 7 faculties of the University.
- The Committee started its work through periodic meetings where the quality issues have been debated. Work focused initially on the drafting of a SWOT of the ULS, a description of each Faculty quality.
- A list of performance indicators has been established throughout the way to work. The list of the indicators in question is always dynamic and ready to frequent updates.
- The Committee began to draft the strategic vision of each school that serves to improve in the next 5 years the following axes:
- Available means
- The University life and communication
5. Furthermore, The Quality Assurance department, in the person of its head, can represent the University in congresses, seminars, conferences, symposia and workshops organized by the Ministry of higher education, the Association of Arab universities, the European Federation of Catholic universities, as well as other organizations that deal with quality in higher education institutions.
At the level of governance, a considerable effort has been made through the collaboration of the Rectorate:
- Creation of the Quality Assurance department and appointment of a Manager
- Creation of a human resources department, and appointment of a Manager.
- Creation of a center of crafts in collaboration with the Agence Universitaire de Francophonie AUF and the project Tempus OIPULES, and appointment of a Manager.
- Reactivation of the service bureaus to former "ALUMNI" for each faculty.
- Renovation of the ULS website.
- Adoption of the "quality policy" which was spread in all the faculties and departments.
- Increase green spaces on the campus of the ULS through plantations on the different levels of the building.
P.O.Box 50-501 Furn-El-Chebak, Lebanon
Telephone: 961-1- 291 091 ext. 303