QUALITY ASSURANCE FOR HIGHER EDUCATION: CHALLENGES IN SUSTAINING CONTINUOUS QUALITY IMPROVEMENT FOR MALAYSIAN UNIVERSITIES
Universiti Teknologi MARA (MALAYSIA)
The education system in Malaysia encompasses five levels, ranging from pre-school, primary, secondary, post secondary through to higher education. Students will typically receive 12 to 13 years of education in order to be accepted into a university, which can be government funded public institutions (universities, polytechnics, community colleges) or private institutions (universities and colleges, including foreign universities branch campuses). As expectations for better performance in teaching and producing more competent graduates continue to rise, there is a need for an effective quality management system in higher education focussing on both the external evaluation, such as by accreditation agency or professional bodies, as well as the internal management function of the organisation. The Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA) has developed and published Code of Practice for Programme Accreditation (COPPA) and Code of Practice for Institutional Audit (COPIA) that prescribe quality assurance practices and standards for higher education to enhance the effectiveness of the Malaysian Qualifications Framework (MQF) and to reinforce institutions’ internal quality assurance system. This paper reports on the findings from a cross-section sample of academicians involved in the quality management system highlighting the experience of a university in the implementation and challenges for sustaining continuous quality improvement in an academic setting. As good quality assurance practices require a strong internal quality assurance system and focussed, periodic audits, it requires balancing the policy roles and responsibilities of not only the higher education providers, but also the government, quality assurance agency and professional bodies.