Regional Accreditation Bodies for Academic Quality Improvement

Description

30 Oct 2009

By Aiyen (Tadulako University, Palu-Central of Sulawesi)

Background
The rise of quality assurance with evaluation and accreditation activities as a policy instrument has been interpreted as indicating a decrease in the trust in society that higher education 'delivers the goods". Years ago the assessment of institutional quality was a relatively straightforward matter, focusing on such tangible characteristics as fiscal solvency, library resources and faculty credentials. While capacities such as these continue to be important in accreditation, today there is wide recognition that "capacity" is simply insufficient as evidence of institutional effectiveness. Having abundant resources does not guarantee effective student learning. As higher institution costs have skyrocketed, and demands for nearly-universal student access to higher education have become more pronounced, the questions asked of Universities by consumers and lawmakers have become more strident: "What are students learning? Is it the right kind of learning? What difference are you making in their lives? What evidence do you have that you're worth our investment?"

The massification of higher education in the world including in Indonesia and the rapid expansion of knowledge set a world-wide challenge to the higher education sector and or its relation with society, which led to new focus, new form and interest of Quality Assurance. Higher education in Indonesia is mainly about teaching and learning, research and community services and these processes are in the field supported by management and administration. Therefore, quality assurance in higher education shall concern about the development and improvement of quality of those areas. And an accreditation process is conducted to ensure the quality of those activities.

Accreditation and Quality Assurance
Accreditation is defined as a formal approval by responsible authorities of an institution or program that meets predetermined and agreed standards through a process of evaluation (Van Damme, 2000). Accreditation provides both public certification of acceptable institutional quality and an opportunity and incentive for-self improvement in the accredited organization. Internationalisms of quality assurance in terms of accreditation rapidly became one of the main challenges of the higher education systems in the world. Accreditation is achieved through a multi-step process e.g. documentation, self evaluation, evaluation, assessment, feedback process and decision. The accreditation decision depends upon a quality assessment should be based on accepted quality standards at the region. The final decision of the accreditation procedure itself is authoritative in nature, has been determined by an external process, and results in a rating judgment, in Indonesia as A, B, C and D, with a limited validity. Accreditation procedures contribute to the continued quality development of the accredited academic unit; the institutions should receive advice about quality improvement throughout the accreditation process, which may extend beyond the rating decision itself.

The present concept of accreditation in the area of Indonesia higher education serves to assure the quality but not to develop quality. It is because the Indonesia national accreditation process is not emphasized on the feedback process to the accredited academic unit after the evaluation period and till the next the re-accreditation schedule. The accreditation and re-accreditation is loosely done. Accreditation which is not stressed on the feedback process but only to the final value of the past performance data of the accredited academic units are only to assure quality but not to develop quality, therefore, revitalization of accreditation process is highly required. On going system has stressed more to the physiological effect of accreditation to the accredited unit than the feedback effect to develop the quality. Loss of reputation and a potential loss of income by on going system may have grave consequences under autonomy slogan.

The emerging focus on student learning has created new challenges for regional institutional accreditation. The diversity of Indonesia universities provides a public access to higher education unequalled anywhere. Thus national accreditation commissions (BAN/Badan Akreditasi Nasional) should largely avoid dictating what the learning outcomes of individual institutions ought to be. Instead of insisting on blind compliance to standardized learning goals, they have promulgated quality standards which, in addition to assessing institutional capacity, also assess the congruence between an institution's mission and learning goals, its curricular offerings, and student learning outcomes. They also require institutions to use student learning data to enhance organizational self-reflection, and to show how they have used these data to improve their educational programs. In essence, they ask institutions to be clear about their mission and educational purposes, and to demonstrate how well they are accomplishing these purposes. In this way accreditation is able to focus on the quality of student learning without specifying, beyond general categories, what that learning should be - in short, to promote standards without standardization . Those suggested process are impossible fulfilled by BAN because of its workloaded, therefore, establishing regional commission such as regional accreditation system (or accreditation agencies) might be able to reduce unfair benchmarking and to concentrate on the quality improvement of an accreditation aims.

New institutional approach is needed for alignment with institutional strategic management system and core values or good practices culture, besides the national guidance. Therefore, a self evaluation report that relying on internal and external audits to ensure the continuous improvement is needed. Moreover, accreditation through an appropriate peer review should become a principal method of quality assurance in Indonesian higher education institution. A regional commission that is responsible and seeking a design and implement a new alternative process for maintaining academic quality assurance which is engaged in quality improvement is suggested.

Regional accreditation body or agency
To concentrate on the feedback process of an accreditation, the accreditation should be provided by more than one accreditation body-one body as present can not cover all the intended process of an accreditation. The regional accreditation bodies should be independent of one another but they should cooperate extensively and acknowledge one another's accreditation. The Badan Akreditasi Nasional/BAN (The National Accreditation Body of Indonesia), its function can be upgraded to accredit the regional accreditation bodies and if it is possible and has capability this body can be functioned as international accreditation agencies or higher education institution. This situation-BAN, will not anymore as field executor of accreditation but will as a body that compose conceptual scheme of accreditation.

When several accreditation bodies have been established, practically, quality assurance in higher education system is a must program, however, an accredited unit or institution should be independent to choose by which institution to be accredited and this can not be dictated since the level of quality of an accredited unit or institution is not only diverse but also not directed to similar direction. Therefore, it is free of choice if an institution however, wants still to be accredited by BAN besides the available of other accreditation bodies. The idea to establish new accreditation body is not simply to split up the customer (accredited unit or institution) from BAN to new accreditation body but it is mainly to stress more on the improvement process of nowadays established method. The new process must meet the needs of institutions and other stakeholders in accreditation, be manageable and cost-effective, and must make real and measurable contributions to institutional operation, most importantly by improving the educational services provided to students. Further, the accreditation and evaluation shall be analyzed from at least three perspectives , which are the perspective of actors , purposes and processes . When accreditation is approached from the perspective of actors we should concentrate in who gives institution and program to operate and who does the actual evaluation work-in the traditional system actors are mainly government; to grant the official approval (licensure). In the coming system, the actors driven the accreditation and evaluation should include accreditee not only government and the accreditor bodies. From the perspective of purposes, accreditation and evaluation have social functions in the society. Where the accreditation aims to improve the quality of higher education and the evaluation is to make the national higher education more efficient and more relevant to the nation state. From the processes perspective, one should ask who does what, when and how. From processes, accreditation, evaluation and the approval unite in practical activities even though they serve different purposes and the actors may vary from process to process. Finally, accreditation should be processed to provide assurance to the public in particular prospective students and to meet the requirements and criteria that are reasonable to achieve and as a sustainable quality improvement system.

Concluding remarks
There is a need to revitalize the accreditation system in Indonesia since the on going system is stressed on the quality but not on the quality improvement. The establishment of regional accreditation bodies/agencies might be able to emphasize on the feedback process of evaluation activity in an accreditation system more than practiced method by BAN. It is thought to improve the role of BAN; by function as national accreditation body that accredits the regional agencies ( compose conceptual frame of accreditation and evaluation ) and or other international accreditation agencies when BAN has enough capacity and eligibility.

Reference

Van Damme, Dirk, 2000. Internationalization and quality assurance: Towards worldwide accreditation. European Journal for education law and policy, 4/1, 1-20

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Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award is the highest accolode an organization can receive as a demonstration of excellence in quality operations.

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Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of intelligent effort

- John Ruskin

"Quality means doing it right when no one is looking"
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Quality Is Not An Act, It Is A Habit

(Aristotle)

If You Want A Quality, Act As If You Already Had It

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“Quality means doing it right when no one is looking.”

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