BEST PRACTICES TO ASSURE QUALITY AT ADMAS
Admas University has been so far performing various activities to improve and assure the quality of its services. Through its long experiences in assessing and assuring the quality of its services, the University employs various mechanisms to ensure the provision of continuous quality services upon the overall activities under the teaching/learning, research and community outreach services. In doing so, the University has been paying attention, through close review to local, continental as well as global best quality practices, and as a result, adapting and adopting those practices while implementing them to the improvement of its daily doings. The following are some of the best practices the University has been experiencing among others.
A. Organization of the Quality Assurance Office of Admas University
The Quality Assurance Office of Admas University is well organized led by a V/President assisted by a Director. The office also incorporates a number of experts of whom one is a PhD holder. Beyond the central office, all Offices/Colleges/Faculties/Departments have an independent unit of quality assurance working in-touch with the central office. The office’s structure can be an exemplary for the emerging attention to quality here in Ethiopia and in the educational sector specifically.
To create consistency and networked system across the University, the office has set various organs meant for tackling with quality related issues based on their own action plans and members. These include the Senate level Quality Assurance Senate Standing Committee (QASSC), College/Faculty level Committees, and Departmental as well as Office level Committees.
The Office with a mandate to look over all wings of the University while taking the appropriate measures directly or indirectly has sixteen (16) major duties and responsibilities among others. These are:
1) developing new systems to scale up the heights of QUALITY and EXCELLENCE;
2) ensuring the full implementation of existing systems, policies, strategies, guidelines, checklists and formats;
3) updating existing systems of the University (Academic and research, Administration and Finance);
4) conducting weekly, monthly, quarterly and spontaneous audits (acting as external auditor to all offices of the University);
5) checking the implementation of results of audits, updated and developed systems;
6) safeguarding the University by preparing it for spontaneous and/or planned external audits or visits;
7) enabling the University to procure internal and external awards;
8) creating national and international links;
9) ensuring the presence of sustainable and modern documentation system and practices at all offices;
10) ensuring the realization of proactive and modern knowledge management system and practice at all levels and offices;
11) ensuring existence of speedy and customer satisfying services throughout the University;
12) safeguarding the University by ensuring the timely conduction of accreditations and renewals of all programs by all concerned bodies
13) grading offices and officers and interpolating the results to the overall evaluation schemes of the University;
14) leading and participating in ad-hoc and standing committees;
15) enabling Campuses/Departments to conduct institutional and program audits effectively, and
16) publishing and disseminating outputs of Quality Assurance Affairs.
To discharge its duties, the Office has an annual action plan emanated from the University’s 5 Years’ Strategic Development Plan (SDP) and accomplishments are being reported accordingly. Below is a brief summary of some of the office’s practices as per the primed responsibilities.
B. AUDIT & ENHANCEMENT
F The office conducts weekly, monthly, quarterly and spontaneous audit (acting as external auditor to all offices of the University), and accordingly:
- produce feedback memos on areas of improvements;
- grade and rank performances of offices’ and officers’ based on a primed checklist meant for the purpose;
- interpolate the audit results to the overall quarter evaluation scheme of the University;
- check the implementation of the audit feedbacks, ;
F Depending on the 2000 external audit report, the University developed an enhancement plan and acted accordingly_ the University was evaluated externally then after.
C. DEVELOPING, UPDATING AND STANDARDIZATION OF WORKING DOCUMENTS (Policy, Strategies and Guidelines)
F With regard to the working systems/documents of the University, the role of the Quality Assurance Office can be seen under different categories:
1. developing Working Documents;
2. standardizing Working Documents;
3. recording documents via “Document Control Procedure”;
4. internalization of the Working Documents, and
5. updating Working Documents.
Development of Working Documents
F the office develops new working systems related to the Quality Assurance System;
F initiates, supports and monitors the development of working systems/documents by other offices;
F the Office also plays a role of standardizing & recording, and realizing endorsement by the respective body (usually the Senate);
Þ Through this approach the University has the following standard working documents so far:
1. 17 Head working documents;
2. 40 subsidiary working documents;
3. More than 320 forms and formats
Internalization: The internalization is conducted via any or all of the following ways:
a) Training: offering training for staff on any of the working documents;
b) Meeting: making a thorough discussion on a gathering with the staff;
c) Reading Assignment: through giving assignment for the staff to read the documents and come up with any difficulties for clarification
F Once the documents are produced, there comes a need for improving the contents due to the very changing nature of the working environment, and in such a situation, the Quality Assurance Office has set a mechanism through which the documents get updated in contact with the major process owners.
F For this end, the office has a document called “Document Control/Record Procedure” whereby the development and/or the updating is supposed to pass through.
F ensure the full implementation of existing systems, policies, strategies, guidelines, checklists, and formats;
D. STANDARDIZATION AND CONTROL OF DOCUMENTS
F Admas has its own Document Record/Control Procedure which is related to font size, font type, language edition, separately categorizing the documents, issue number, year of issuance, etc. and which is meant to be considered for each & every working documents of the University.
F Admas has its own System Of Standardizing the whole working documents where by each and every manuals, guidelines, policies, strategies, forms, formats, etc are given individual codes.
Þ The “System of Standardization” is developed with the following major purposes. To:
ü create uniform system of documentation across the University;
ü make the overall operations of the University safer (e.g. against forging of documents), and
ü secure the copy right of the University;
Þ The “System Of standardization” also is built basing the procedure of control of documents, and each page of every working document is made to have the following seven items:
ü logo of the University;
ü name of the University;
ü number of the document;
ü title of the document;
ü issue number;
ü year of issuance, and
ü page number.
Accordingly, the whole working documents (manuals, guidelines, policies, strategies, forms, formats, etc) are standardized and recorded.
E. ENSURE THE IMPLEMENTATION OF RULES AND REGULATIONS OF VARIOUS REGULATORY BODIES
The Quality Assurance Office pays close attention to the following requirement:
F Preparing the University for spontaneous and/or planned external audits or visits;
F Ensuring timely realization of accreditation & renewal of accreditation for all programmes of the University;
F Collecting, compiling, disseminating and following-up implementations of various regulations and guidelines of regulatory bodies and renowned practices from other national and international institutions.
F Enabling campuses/faculties/colleges/departments to conduct institutional & programme audits effectively;
F. SATISFYING CUSTOMERS' NEEDS BASED ON ASSESSMENT
The Quality Assurance Office assesses, identifies and ensures the satisfaction of the University’s customers as well as stakeholders through the following mechanisms:
F Through Conducting Survey and other studies: in order to assess the satisfaction level of its customers, Admas University conducts satisfaction level survey study annually and the Quality Assurance Office is the principal facilitator and performer of such studies. The Office:
- conducts survey studies annually;
- involves all stakeholders within the study;
- disseminates the survey results to all concerned;
- publicizes of results to the staff made in a gathering, and
- collects and considers replies all bodies in subsequent studies.
The annual survey is conducted on the HERQA focus areas and the pillars of the TVET Agencies. It’s made on the basis of broad customers and stakeholders of the University.
F Others: Beyond survey studies, the Office conducts frequent mini assessment on:
- the Teaching/Learning and Assessment practices;
- class absenteeism and course coverage;
- customer handling by different offices/sections at Colleges/Faculties;
- aptness of grading and scoring, and
F Service Improvement Package (SIP): the University has its own system of upgrading its services called “SIP”, and the Quality Assurance Office works on:
- checking availability at each office (clearly posted and documented);
- monitoring the implementation;
- assessing feasibility & identifying implementation gaps, and
- alerting for improvements/revisions and filling gaps based on the assessment.
F In addition to the above ways, Admas University has various ways of helping its customers, chiefly the students, voicing about the quality of the overall services delivered in the institution.
Þ Some of these ways are stated in the subsequent lines.
- Monthly Meeting with Class representatives
- Students’ Council
- Other Feedback Mechanisms
ü Suggestion Boxes
ü Suggestion Books
ü Forms & Formats
• Suggestion boxes are installed in each faculty/ college/ premises through which students give their anonymous opinions about the quality of the ongoing educational and training services.
• The suggestion boxes are opened by the members of the Office of Quality Assurance every Monday for serious consideration.
• The ideas are scrutinized, analyzed, and discussed with the concerned people assigned in the respective premises towards a viable solution.
• Suggestion books are also available at every office where customers can address their feedback.
• The issues in each suggestion books are collected weekly by the experts of the Quality Assurance Office for further treatment by the respective bodies.
• There are also various forms and formats meant for collecting and considering the satisfaction of the customer/s in line with making the appropriate reflections timely.
F Customers are encouraged to visit the website to collect relevant information there and put their feedbacks/ comments on the overall services of the University.
F Admas follows an open door policy to entertain any academic and non-academic issues of the University’s customers/ stakeholders.
F Customers can access the University’s top officials either in person or through telephone.
Þ To this end, contact address/es of the officials including their private cell phone numbers are communicated via hand-books, brochures, and through posts at each campus of the University.
G. AWARENESS CREATION
F In order to create awareness to the internal and external customers, Admas via its Quality Assurance Office publishes and disseminates various Quality Assurance Affairs. On top of the various publications of the University, the following are on quality issues.
1) Admas Quality Bulletin: a quarterly publication on the different quality related activities of the University;
2) Quality Matters: a monthly newsletter consisting of ideas from the student body, the academic staff, the admin & support staff, as well as the executive management of the University regarding the quality of the University’s services;
3) Admas Quality Brochure: the office publishes a brochure both for the staff & the student body_ separately;
4) Flyers: The Office disseminates flyers on various urgent issues.
H. BENCHMARKS & QUALITY ASSURANCE MECHANISMS
F Throughout its practice of assuring the quality of its services, Admas has its benchmarks both from national and international worthy & renowned quality assurance practices.
F Below are some of the Organizations/Agencies/Networks/Institutions Admas used as a benchmark of assessing, improving & assuring the quality of services.
ü International Network for Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education (INQAAHE) __ the University is an Associate member of INQAAHE.
ü HERQA’s Standards
ü TVET Agency’s Standards
ü Ethiopian Quality Award Organization (EQAO)
ü International Standards’ Organization (ISO) 9001:2008
ü Business Process Reform (BPR)
ü Balanced Scorecard (BSC)
ü Six Sigma
F Basing the above listed practices of those institutions and organizations, the University has developed its own generic checklists, policies, strategies, guidelines, procedures, etc. which are turned to be the pillars of the University’s major and routine activities.