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An Outline of Approaches used by the authorities of different countries in managing the quality assurance of distance learning programmes

Can a viable strategy based on distance learning be formulated to make Malaysia a competitive education hub?

Outline of Presentation
1. 2.

Definition of distance learning Monitoring of the quality of delivery by home countries
 

The QAA’s case The AUQA’s case


Regulation of the delivery of foreign programmes
 

The Singapore’s case The Hong Kong’s case

4. 5. 6.

Current approach in Malaysia in dealing with distance learning programmes Malaysia Boleh! Concluding Remark

“He who knows does not speak. He who speaks does not know.”
A quotation from the great scholar and philosopher, Lao-tze


What is Distance Learning? 2 models comes to most people’s mind in Malaysia


What is Distance Learning (2)

Correspondence Courses


What is Distance Learning (3)
KK Miri Penang Kuantan Etc.




The USM’s Model

What is Distance Learning (4)

Is there more to distance learning delivery than these 2 models?


QAA’s Definition of Distance Learning (DL)
“….a way of providing higher education that involves the transfer to the student’s location of materials that forms the main basis of study rather than the student moving to the location of the resource provider”

The 4 Dimension of DL
1. Material-based Learning 2. Programme components delivered

by travelling teachers 3. Learning supported locally 4. Learning supported from the providing institution remotely from the student


The 4 Dimension of DL(2)
Most distance learning programmes rely on more than one or even all the 4 dimensions

So, Distance Learning encompasses ALL off shore activities of a university


A revision of our thinking on DL?
From QAA: “What is important to students is that the material delivered…., the assessments against which they are judged and the support received….are of assured quality & secured standards …….they are getting good learning opportunities in a form that suits their needs & that they are able to achieve the standards expected of an UK award.”


A revision of our thinking on DL?(2)
Perhaps we should  Review our classification of programmes in Malaysia  Evaluate a programme by  Its ‘outputs’ (the learning experience and opportunities)  Its delivery in a holistic manner

We should not rely on the current loose definition to pre-judge a programme of its merits.

Monitoring of the Quality of programmes and their delivery offshore
The UK and Australian Examples


Monitoring of offshore activities by foreign countries
 The QAA of UK published guidelines for

distance delivery of programme and does quality audit on British universities’ offshore activities
 The AUQA of Australia verifies the quality

practices of Australian universities overseas


Monitoring of offshore activities by foreign countries (2)

What can we deduce from this?
 Both countries are taking

responsibilities for monitoring the overseas activities of their universities


Monitoring of offshore activities by the QAA (UK)
Guideline on quality assurance of distance learning programmes Published in 1999 Generally used by British universities regardless of definition of the delivery mode overseas


QAA’s guidelines on distance learning
Six aspects of distance learning programmes are looked at:
System Design and integrated approach 1. Academic Standards & quality in programme

design, approval and review process 1. Quality assurance and standards in the management of programme delivery
 Student development and support. 1. 1.

Student communication and representation Student assessment


QAA’s guidelines on distance learning (2)
What can we conclude from these?
 QAA has charged all British universities

with the full responsibilities and accountabilities of the delivery of distance learning programmes  QAA is scrutinising the conduct of quality assurance process of all British universities with off shore activities  We should engage the QAA & avoid duplication of efforts & streamline the QA workload of IPTS!

Monitoring of offshore activities by the AUQA (Australia)
Non-prescriptive approach: no

guidelines! Rely on self-review, verifications and audit of off shore activities of Australian universities for quality assurance purposes


AUQA audit principles
1. Scope: university’s stated goals & 2. 3. 4.


objectives No comparison between institutions Based audit on institution’s self review No portfolio template, each institution is recognised for its own uniqueness Cost of audits to be minimised

AUQA audit principles: the 7 tests 7 tests to determine if an audit visit overseas is warranted:
2. The number of staff and students 3. Significance of overseas activities to the 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

institution Likelihood of things going wrong The experience of the institution Number & locations of overseas operations Accreditation requirements of th host country Is a visit necessary

AUQA’s quality audit
What can we conclude from these?
 AUQA audits all Australian universities’

offshore activities  AUQA’s self-review system and audit ensure that institution review their operations & practice what they have set out to achieve  We should engage the AUQA to avoid duplication of efforts & streamline the QA workload of IPTS!

Regulating the delivery of foreign programmes

The Singapore & Hong Kong perspectives


The Singapore’s case
 All foreign programmes delivered locally are

classified as distance learning programmes  Registration is on programme by programme basis  Credibility of foreign institution is of paramount importance, less focus on local partner  Quality assurance process of offshore programmes must be equivalent to that on campus  Learning experience of students locally must be similar to their colleagues’ on campus


The rules of the game in Singapore
1. All local players offering foreign

programmes must obtain MoE’s permission to conduct their activities (programme by programme basis)
1. The overseas institution is fully accountable

for every aspect of the programme offered locally 1. The local player provide only support (facilities, logistics, recruitment, programme admin etc)

The rules of the game in Singapore(2)
1. MoE does not have a list of accredited

overseas universities, no central authority to recognise foreign degrees either
1. MoE publishes a list of approved foreign

degree programmes for local delivery.


The rules of the game in Singapore(3)
1. MoE is very strict on the offer of post

secondary courses: only registered private schools allowed, with teachers for such courses well regulated
1. The registration of foreign programmes is a

very straightforward affair: 2 months or less to get approval


The foreign programmes in Singapore


Number of Institutions

Undergraduate programmes

Postgraduate programmes

Total Number of Programmes

Australia UK US Others Total

44 57 28 27 156

210 96 14 22 342

217 132 42 37 428

427 228 56 59 770


The status in Singapore
The result of this effective & efficient policy:  770 foreign programmes are approved to run in the country!  Nearly all the ‘who’s who’ of Australian universities & over half of UK universities are represented  Singapore has 50,000 foreign students, aiming for 150,000 by 2012!


The Hong Kong’s case
 Non-local Higher and Professional

Education (Regulation Ordinance) rules the industry via Hong Kong Council for Academic Accreditation (HKCAA)  The HKCAA does not apply the Ordinance universally: local public institutions collaborating with foreign universities are exempted from full registration if these can fulfil 2 criteria & classed in the ‘exempted list’

The rule of the game in HK
1. 2 main criteria to fulfil:  Foreign institution must be recognised in home country & programme offered locally must be of comparable standard to a similar programme on campus  Programme leading to foreign professional qualification must be recognised by the professional body in the home country 2. All foreign programmes must be

registered (either in non-local or exempted list)

The rule of the game in HK(2)
registration and annual fees (HK$33k & HK18.2k respectively) 2. Registration for Exempted list is very cheap: HK$115 for initial registration & HK$605 for annual fees 1. Registration is a lengthy affair: 12 – 18 months….. 2. “Pure distance learning” without the physical presence of institution or agent in HK to delivery, assess the programme are exempted from registration

1. High fees are charged for initial Full

The foreign programmes in HK
Non-Local List
Country Australia Number of Institutions Under-graduate programmes Post-graduate programmes

Local List
Undergraduate programmes Post-graduate programmes Total Number of Programmes

UK US Others

39 75 35 43 192

71 78 27 39 215

83 81 13 11 188

52 152 14 37 255

80 184 26 28 318

286 495 80 115 976



The foreign programmes in HK (2)

Total number of programmes (NonLocal List): Total number of programmes (Local List):

403 573 470 506

Total number of Undergraduate Programmes: Total number of Postgraduate Programmes:

The Status in HK
 A lot of unhappiness over the two-tier

quality assurance system: led to review of HKCAA’s policy  Streamlining of registration process have reduced timeframe to 6 months or less  After a review in 2003, HKCAA will adopt a revised criteria for quality assurance that are more output-focused and open-ended to accommodate all types of provisions

Current Scene in Malaysia
Royal Professor Ungku Aziz said 1994: “Distance education is not always fully understood by many key decision makers in Malaysia………Malaysia already has all the necessary technology……all it lacks is the software and political will to realise it.”
10 Years on, we still do not have a clear policy, guidelines for approval and accreditation of overseas distance learning programmes in Malaysia

Current Scene in Malaysia(2)
Malaysian Qualifications Framework  Will help to promote lifelong learning  Provides a less rigid regulation and recognition criteria for the industry  Allows diverse entry & exit points  Recognises different pathways to achieve accredited qualifications


Viable Strategy based on Distance Learning
 No Malaysian IPTA or IPTS appeared

in the top 500 universities in the world  No Malaysian IPTA or IPTS appeared in the top 100 universities in Asia Pacific Majority of foreign students are coming to Malaysia as a means to an end……an affordable and reliable route for them to acquire an international qualification from UK, Australia & US etc.!

Viable Strategy based on Distance Learning (2)
To achieve our vision to be the education hub of the region we should:  Leverage on the strengths & expertise of the IPTS in providing supported distance learning programmes from overseas  Provide a flexible, transparent & efficient regulatory framework  Recognise the threats from our neighbours

Malaysia Boleh!
Perhaps to be ‘Boleh’ we should consider:  Adopting QAA’s definition & 4 dimensions of distance learning  Adopt a flexible & efficient regulatory system  Emphasising less on the ‘input’ but more on ‘output’  Letting market forces but not regulatory system to determine the acceptability of academic qualifications for employment

Malaysia Boleh!(2)
 Emphasising more on the quality of the

foreign awarding institutions & placing responsibility for quality assurance upon them, less on the local partner  Collaborating actively with accreditation agencies like QAA, AUQA etc to avoid duplication of work


Concluding Remarks


Thanks for your attention!

Q & A?