Quality Assurance (QA) in education is a set of activities intended to ensure that products (goods and/or services) satisfy customer requirements in a systematic, reliable fashion. Education Quality Assurance (QA) cannot absolutely guarantee the production of academic quality products but makes this more likely.
It is important to realize also that education quality is determined by the intended users, clients or customers, not by society in general: it is not the same as ‘expensive’ or ‘high quality’. Even goods with low prices can be considered education quality items if they meet a market need.
Education quality assurance attempts to improve and stabilize production, and associated processes, to avoid, or at least minimize, issues that led to the defects in the first place. To prevent mistakes from arising, several QA methodologies are used.
During the 1980s, the concept of “company quality” with the focus on management and people came to the fore. It was realized that, if all departments approached quality with an open mind, success was possible if the management led the quality improvement process. Quality improvement process is generic in the sense it can be applied to any of many activities (including education) and it establishes a behaviour pattern, which supports the achievement of quality. This in turn is supported by quality management practices which can include a number of business systems and which are usually specific to the activities of the business unit concerned.
There are many methods for education quality improvement. These cover product improvement, process improvement and people based improvement. In the following list are methods of education quality management and techniques that incorporate and drive quality improvement in the field of education.
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) created the Quality Management System (QMS) standards in 1987. The last major revision was in the year 2000 and the series was called ISO 9000:2000 series. ISO released a minor revision, ISO 9001:2008 on 14 October 2008. It contains no new requirements. Many of the changes were to improve consistency in grammar, facilitating translation of the standard into other languages. The Quality Management System standards created by ISO are meant to certify the processes and the system of an organization, not the product or service itself. ISO 9000 standards do not certify the academic quality of the product or service. It certifies the optimal performance of the educational organization.
ISO 29990: 2010
ISO 29990:2010 “learning services for non-formal education and training”, is intended to provide a general model for education quality professional practice and performance, and a common reference for learning service providers and their customers in the design, development and delivery of education, non-formal training and training. It aims to increase transparency and allows comparison between global learning services, offering a unique alternative, backed by international consensus, to the enormous variety of national training services and management standards that exist in the field of non-formal education. ISO 29990:2010 promotes a focus on the student and the results of the process, and emphasizes the full range of options available for learning services.
EDUCATION QUALITY CONTROL
It has become customary to use consultants and contractors when introducing new education quality practices and methods, particularly where the relevant skills and expertise are not available within the organization. In addition, when new initiatives and improvements are required to boost the current academic quality system, or perhaps improve upon current manufacturing systems, the use of temporary consultants becomes a viable solution when allocating valuable resources.
It is important not to underestimate the people factors, such as culture, in selecting a education quality improvement approach. Any improvement (change) takes time to implement, gain acceptance and stabilize as accepted practice. Improvement must allow pauses between implementing new changes so that the change is stabilized and assessed as a real improvement, before the next improvement is made (hence continual improvement, not continuous improvement).
Do you need Education Quality Consulting Services?
The Confederation of International Accreditation Commission- CIACmay act as a consultant for any institution interested in achieving an education quality certification. The CIAC works in collaboration with the other European Quality Assurance agencies, which acts as another independent Certification Body established to provide ISO certification services to companies engaged in a wide range of industries. The preliminary consulting review of your institution is provided for free.