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What is role of the Quality Assurance Unit?

The QAU is responsible for monitoring, auditing and reviewing teaching and learning and graduate and research activities at the four campuses of the University.


What is Quality Assurance?

This is the process of maintaining standards reliably and consistently by applying criteria of success in a course, programme or institution.  Quality assurance can be defined in terms of four componets:

  1. everyone in the enterprise has a responsiblityfor enhancing the quality of the product or service;
  2. everyone in the enterprise has a responsibility for maintaining the quality of the product or service;
  3. everyone in the enterprise understands, uses and feels ownership of the systems which are in place for maintaining and enhancing quality; and
  4. management regularly checks the validity of the systems for checking quality.  (Frazer, 1992)


Who is responsible for assuring quality?

Everyone involved in the teaching and learning process has a measure of responsibility for the maintenance of quality.  However, the QAU has been given the responsibility to monitor and evaluate the quality of programmes/courses offered by the UWI.


What process is used to assure the quality of programmes/courses at the UWI?

The University of the West Indies uses a five yearly review cycle for all its programmes and courses.


What is quality for the University of the West Indies?

Quality for the University of the West Indies is fitness of purpose, the ability to show that the programme/course has met its stated objectives.


What is distance education?

Distance education is where there is a separation of the teacher and the learner.


What is blended learning?

This is a mix of different learning environments, for example online with face-to-face tuition.


What is a quality assurance review?

A process conducted by independent reviewers to assess the extent to which the programme/course is meeting its stated objectives.


How regularly is the quality assurance review conducted?

The quality assurance reviews are usually conducted every five years.


What are the goals of the Self Assessment Review?

The overall goal of the Self Assessment exercise is for staff of a discipline/service to determine the extent to which the agreed aims and objectives of its programmes are being realised, and to consider initiatives for future development of the discipline/service. Factors that have an impact on the teaching, learning and research experience of the students are also identified.  While there is much descriptive material in a Self-Assessment Report, the primary aim of the Self Assessment process is to analyse and evaluate provision and make recommendations, not merely to describe or defend.  The Self-Assessment Report (SAR) should also be suitable as a guide to future planning and developments of the Department/Centre.  In addition the SAR should be referenced against the current UWI strategic plan. 


What is the composition of the QA review team?

The team usually consist of:

  1. One or two senior academics from outside the region with expertise in the discipline;
  2. An independent professional from within the particular country but external to the UWI, Open Campus;
  3. An academic in the same discipline from another campus of the UWI; and
  4. An academic with expertise in evaluating postgraduate offerings and research.


What happens during the review visit?

The review team meets with:

  1. Members of the Senior Management team;
  2. QAU staff;
  3. Campus Principal, Deputy Principal, Campus Registrar;
  4. Head of Department;
  5. Members of academic staff, administrative, professional staff and other support staff;
  6. Students (under and postgraduate);
  7. Alumni/recent graduates of the programme/course;
  8. Members of the professional bodies, where applicable;
  9. Employers of graduates of the programme/course; and
  10. Other key stakeholders.

What happens after the department/unit receives the report?

The review team report would usually include recommendations.  The department/unit should use these recommendations to prepare an action plan for improving the offering.  The action plan should include appropriate timelines and should be incorporated into the department’s/unit’s Operational Plan.


What is the time frame for the follow-up action?

  1. Completion of action plan 2-3 months after receipt of the Review Team’s Report; and
  2. Submission of the Implementation Report – 1 year after receipt of the Review Team’s Report.


What happens next?

Within one year of the completion of the Review Report, an implementation report should be prepared by the Head of Department/Unit and submitted to the QAU outlining the extent to which the goals outlined in the Action Plan have been achieved.


What is Accreditation?

"Accreditation is a certified status granted to programme (s) or institutions consequent on an evalution process.  The evaluation process is generally conducted in two inter-related phases - self-evaluation by the institution/provider followedby an objective review by a team of peers, external to the institution/provider.  Accreditation implies that commonly accepted standards of educational quality have been met or exceeded" (Procedures & Guidelines for the Regional Mechanism for Accreditation, Equivalency & Articulation, 2000, p. 107).


Who grants Accreditation?

An accrediting agency with which the institution/provider has established linkages. 


How long is the accreditation period?

In Barbados and Trinidad, the accreditation period can be for either 3, 5 or 7 years.