A significant leap forwardSana’a University: Innovative quality assurance measures [Archives:2007/1030/Education]

March 5 2007

Dr Ayid Sharyan
Associate Professor
Department of English,
Faculty of Education, Sana'a University, Sana'a
[email protected]

Sana'a university recently launched the University Education Development Centre (UEDC) that is to be in charge of the academic standards and quality of teaching and learning in the whole university. The idea of establishing such a centre has been in the air for about two years. During these two years a team was formed to formulate guidelines for reviewing the university programs. The team includes experts in higher education from Yemen, UAE, Egypt, etc. for the university felt there was a need to develop academic programs to keep abreast with new developments in the world: globalisation, academic accreditation, quality assurance agencies, required academic standards, major fields tests, etc. The UEDC comprises four units: 1) Evaluation and Quality Assurance Unit, 2) Education Technology, 3) University Teaching and Programs Development Unit, 4) Research, Textbooks Writing, and Translation Unit. These units are assigned to Dr Mahuob Anam, Dr Yehia al-Shehari, Dr Radman Saeed, Dr Ayid Sharyan respectively.

In the operationalization of the UEDC, the general committee looks at the centre plan. The committee includes the University administration (rector, vice rectors, finance department, etc), Faculties representatives, including some deans, who belong to different fields and sciences, as well as the members of the centre. The main goals of the UEDC are to:

1. improve and develop the standards for the academic programs in all the faculties of the university

2. check if the university programs achieve the mission/vision of the university

3. diagnose the weak and strong points of the academic programs, enhancing them and pinpointing the weak parts so as to improve them

4. check if the programs' outcomes meet the needs of the market and society at large

5. discover if the academic environment is suitable for the university objectives,

6. improve the academic programs in the light of the quality assurance criteria.

These goals are to be achieved through a four-stages plan.

The first phase (Jan- March 2007) focuses on Preparation and Training. This stage aims at:

1. bringing a common understanding of the procedures and concepts of the academic criteria of evaluation available with the general and sub-committees that are responsible for developing and evaluating the academic programs in the Faculties of the University

2. raising an awareness about the academic guideline for developing and evaluating the academic programs, explaining the procedure included to make it efficient for participants

3. mastering the necessary skills for managing the evaluation process of the academic programs so as to develop them according to the approved model in the guide and the by-laws

4. understanding the new concepts in the field of developing the academic programs: quality assurance, self-evaluation document, external evaluation, academic accreditations, terms and conditions for developing and evaluating academic programs

5. knowing the experience of other universities in the world

The second phase (April-December 2007) analyses the existing situation of university programs. During this stage the UEDC is to:

1. train the members of the sub-committees on how to evaluate the programs in their faculties

2. maintain academic standards for the programs in different faculties

3. collect data about the programs

4. write the self- evaluation document for departments at different faculties

5. approve the self-evaluation document

The third phase (Jan-August 2008) deals with developing the university programs. This stage aims at:

1. training the members of the sub-committees on how to develop the programs in their faculties

2. putting goals and intended learning outcomes for the developed academic programs

3. designing the developed academic programs

4. designing the textbooks

5. writing course description for the course.

Phase four (September- September 2008-2009) aims at:

1. approving the developed academic programs by the departments and councils concerned

2. making available the support required for implementing the developed academic programs.

3. piloting the developed academic programs on the new students who join the university in the academic year 2008-2009. This is followed by formative evaluation. The process of evaluation is to be implemented for the succeeding years till the first group graduates.

In addition to the four-year plan, the UEDC has other activities: starting a journal devoted to the development of higher education, doing research on university education issues, training new teachers joining the university, issuing some bulletins every two-months to raise the awareness about quality assurance, etc. Research in the journal is not limited to the center. In fact, we accept participations from all faculties affiliated to the university or the country at large. Thus researchers are welcomed to participate in this journal to develop higher education at Sana'a university in particular and the zone in general. The centre offers services and consultations in the area of university education development to all higher institutions in and outside the country. In the process of revising, developing and evaluating the university programs, the centre drafts plans to move from quality assurance to Total Quality Management in the university. This implies the development of academic programs as well as administration, infrastructure, learning resources, etc. Relationship with similar institutions in and outside the country is of paramount importance and it is bound to be an essential component to the nature of the mission of the centre.

As the head of the Research, Textbooks Writing, and Translation Unit, I have the pleasure to invite collaboration of institutions concerned that deal with development of higher education to undertake further research in this field. It is hoped that with the establishment of this centre, higher education in Yemen will take a new shape; it will measure up to the level of international standards. It will be a resource center that all universities can benefit from.