Upholding Quality Assurance Tenets for Academic Excellence

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Professor Michael Tyolumun Imande discusses the importance of adhering to quality assurance tenets for the sustenance of academic excellence at Benue State University.

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Upholding Quality Assurance Tenets for Academic Excellence

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  2. PRESENTATION OUTLINE 1. Introduction 2. Definition of Quality Assurance and its Constituent Elements (Input, Process, Product and Outcome) 3. Definition of Quality Assurance tenets and Examples 3.1 Scope of Quality Assurance tenets In Benue State University 3.2 Stake holders and guarantors of Quality Assurance in Benue State University. 3.3 The Role of stake holders and guarantors of Quality Assurance in Benue State University 3.4 Monitoring, Evaluation, Review, and Feedback 4. Overview of the current Quality Assurance adherence Profile of Benue State University 5. Reinvigorating consistent adherence to Quality Assurance tenets in BSU and challenges 6. Summary and conclusion

  3. 1.INTRODUCTION Universities as centres that are at fore of generating ideas and disseminating knowledge for the advancement of the society in every sphere of human endeavor take pride in sustaining their relevance and impact. Benue established in 1992 and being the first state owned University in North Central Nigeria, aspires to remain a globally relevant centre of excellence. As key stake holders that are , hopefully, collectively in concert with ensuring unwavered adherence to the Vision, Mission and Core values of this great learning, it is important that quality utmost concern to the University Community and the Society it serves. State University, Makurdi, citadel of be of assurance issues

  4. 1.INTRODUCTION...CONTINUED The collective dream of the pioneer academic and non-academic staff of this great institution was , not only to entrench quality assurance tenets in every facet of this institution, but also to raise and sustain the quality assurance profile of the institution as the years went by. In the light of observed apparent outlying incidences in the University in recent times, it has become imperative that the attention of the University Community, particularly the academic and administrative staff of this institution, be drawn to this disturbing trend so as trajectory of the University and hence remain true to expectations of her founding fathers. to redirect the quality assurance

  5. 2.DEFINITION OF QUALITY ASSURANCE AND ITS CONSTITUENT ELEMENTS (INPUT, PROCESS, PRODUCT AND OUTCOME) In general, the term Quality Assurance (QA) is a managerial tool that encompasses all the systematic actions required for providing sufficient confidence, that a product, service or result will meet the requisite quality. It includes two principles: "fit for purpose" (the product should be suitable for the intended purpose); and "right the first time" (i.e mistakes to be eliminated). QA entails all planned and systematic actions needed to provide adequate confidence that a product, service or result will satisfy given requirements for quality and be fit for use: it is the sum total of the activities aimed at achieving that required standard (ISO, 1994). The above definition is generic(ie organization/environment). applicable in every

  6. 2.DEFINITION OF QUALITY ASSURANCE AND ITS CONSTITUENTS CONTINUED In educational institutions such as Universities, Okebukola (2021) defines quality assurance as a set of planned and systematic activities implemented to maximize the probability that minimum standards of quality in education or implementation of educational curriculum are attained. The National Universities Commission (NUC, 2006) defines quality assurance as the systematic review of educational programmes to ensure that acceptable standards of, education, scholarship maintained. The focus in this paper shall, understandably, be quality assurance as it applies to educational institutions, particularly in a University such as Benue state University, Makurdi. and infrastructure are being

  7. 2.DEFINITION OF QUALITY ASSURANCE AND ITS CONSTITUENTS CONTINUED The Four Constituent Elements of Quality Assurance are: 1. Input elements/variables(these include students, teachers/lecturers, Non- teaching staff, Managers, Curriculum, Facilities, Finance, Institutional materials, other resources) 2. Process elements/variables(these include teaching and learning processes, Research, Use of time and space, Students services, Administration, Leadership, Community Participation, Management) 3. Product elements/variables(these include quality of graduates, Production of new Knowledge) 4. Outcome elements/variables (these include responsible citizens, economic and social development, high competiveness of the University's Programmes, high rankings of the University by NUC and other global ranking organizations.

  8. 3.DEFINITION OF QUALITY ASSURANCE TENETS AND EXAMPLES These are principles, beliefs, or doctrines generally held to be true as in concerns an organization, context or entity/environment where quality assurance is embraced as apposite to sustaining the prestige or positive image of such an organization, context or entity/environment. For instance, in an educational institutions such as Benue State University, quality assurance tenets could include consistent and regular attendance of lectures by students, non- involement in Examination Misconduct, non-involvement in "sorting" by students, non-involvement in cultism by staff or students, timely submission of examination results by lecturers, regular / timely payment of staff entitlements / salaries / allowances, timely promotion of deserving academic and non- teaching staff, non-involvement in Sexual harassment by students and staff, among others. Adherence to the above mentioned tenets or the like signals the incidence of some quality assurance "atmosphere" in the University. Any University that witnesses or embraces the above tenets as statutory activities as taking place could be described as a quality assurance embracing University.

  9. 3.1 SCOPE OF QUALITY ASSURANCE TENETS IN BENUE STATE UNIVERSITY The Benue State University Quality Assurance Policy has two broad parts viz: The Benue state Policy on Internal Quality Assurance System (BSU-IQAS) and the External Quality Assurance System (EQAS). The BSU-IQAS contains details of the aspects of the University that should be continually assessed, monitored and improved upon by the institutional mechanisms of the University created under this policy while the EQAS contains aspects of the external Essentially, BSU-IQAS x-rays quality compliance as it concerns: quality assessment. The University s Strategic Plan, Assessment of Students, Student s evaluation of staff, Staff review and Promotion Procedures , Research grants/awards and quality of output, Research Management , Learning Facilities, Student s accommodation, Staff offices and working environment, Staff training and development, University Library and Information Services, services, University Health Services, University Sports Services, Staff Housing , University Security System, University Linkages with external agencies and donor , and University Public Information. Municipal University

  10. 3.1 SCOPE OF QUALITY ASSURANCE TENETS IN BENUE STATE UNIVERSITY...CONTINUED The EQAS x-rays quality compliance (typically driven by external bodies like NUC, MDCN, Council for legal education etc) as it concerns Programme Accreditation, Institutional Accreditation, Institutional Audit (Staff, Financial etc), External Examinations and Examination moderations. It is expected that a University will invite the relevant agencies to do quality assurance checks and certify compliance accordingly.

  11. 3.1 SCOPE OF QUALITY ASSURANCE TENETS IN BENUE STATE UNIVERSITY...CONTINUED The BSU-IQAS is broadly driven by the mission of the University: to be a Centre of excellence in creating knowledge and developing a complete person capable of not only responding to cultural, social, political and economic environment but also, setting the agenda for change. Needless to say, each of 17 (Seventeen) foci aspects/segments of the University under the surveillance of the BSU-IQAS largely present a dual-sided flow of inputs/efforts that are to engender a successful implementation of the Benue State University Quality Assurance policy. Universities that pride themselves as being world-class and remaining at the forefront of providing leadership in cutting edge research and academic excellence constantly ensure this so-called dual-sided flow of inputs/efforts encapsulated in their Quality Assurance Policies are closely monitored. As collective stake holders of Benue State University that uphold the dream of the founding fathers of this great institution, to what extent are we ensuring that the quality profile of this great citadel of learning is not only sustained but improved upon for the benefit of not only the present generation but, more importantly, also for the generations of the Benue People and other persons across the country and around the World ? upcoming

  12. 3.2 STAKE HOLDERS AND GUARANTORS OF QUALITY ASSURANCE IN BENUE STATE UNIVERSITY. 1) The University Council 2) The University Senate 3) The Principal Officers: The Vice-Chancellor, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Administration), Deputy Vice-Chancellor(Academic),The Provost (CHS), The Registrar, The Bursar , and The University Librarian. 4) Academic Units Heads : Provost(s), Deans, Heads of Department, Directors of Centres/Directorates. 5) Staff (Teaching & Non-Teaching) 6) Students 7) Alumni 8) Directors of Non-Academic Units: Maintenance Services Units, Health Services, Information and Communication Directorate, Directorate of Sports, Directorate of Physical Planning 9) BSU Consultancy Ltd., BSU Bookshop Ltd., and registered Contractors

  13. 3.3 THE ROLE OF STAKE HOLDERS AND GUARANTORS OF QUALITY ASSURANCE IN BENUE STATE UNIVERSITY. Stakeholders in the BSU-IQAS are concern in the successful compliance of the University to the quality assurance tenets of the Institution within the 17 (seventeen) foci aspects/segments of the University earlier mentioned. These stakeholders are supposed to proactively show concern by, for instance, raising timely "alarms" or drawing attention of the University Management to observed deviations or non-compliance with the quality assurance tenets/standards of the University. These stakeholders should be perpetually ready and willing to avail themselves as servants in the University that are duty-bound to be partners that are willing to ensure the overall glory and standing of the University as a global centre of excellence. The officers and persons alluded to here are also guarantors of quality assurance in Benue state University: they deliberately raise the "alarm" verbally and, if necessary, officially communicate ,via the appropriate University organs, any observed incidences of non-compliance or deviation from compliance with the quality assurance expectations in BSU-IQAS. persons/organs with an interest or

  14. 3.3 THE ROLE OF STAKE HOLDERS AND GUARANTORS OF QUALITY ASSURANCE IN BENUE STATE UNIVERSITY...CONTINUED In other words, these guarantors(in the event of perceived non-chalance by other members of the University Community) take up the challenge of raising the desirable "alarms" and, possibly officially communicating these deviations/ concerns via appropriate statutory organs, even when other members of the University Community are(or appear to be) non-chalant about any incidences of deviations from the expected adherence to the quality assurance tenets in the University. Stakeholders should be ready and willing to debunk inaccurate/false social media communication alluding to incidences of deviations from compliance with the University s quality assurance tenets as they are supposed to be at the forefront of propagating the incidences of the high quality assurance compliance profile in the University. As stakeholders and guarantors of University, you should be ready and willing to promote and defend what the University stands for. Rumour mongering should not be embraced or encouraged within these stakeholders/gurantors. correctly quality assurance in Benue State

  15. 3.4 MONITORING, EVALUATION, REVIEW, AND FEEDBACK Effective monitoring is at the heart of any quality assurance system. Statutorily, the Directorate of Academic Planning and Quality Assurance(DAP &QA) is saddled with the responsibility of coordinating the activities of quality assurance in the University and so there ought to be coordination of reports from the various quality assurance committees(which shall ordinarily meet once every semester) at College, Faculty, Directorate, Centre, Department, Division and Unit(via their chairmen) and present same to the bi-annual meetings of assurance(typically Chaired by the Vice-Chancellor). The recent interruptive activities (such as Unions strikes) in Benue State University have seriously impeded expected regular monitoring of the activities of quality assurance in the University. It is particularly pertitent to state here that during National Universities Commission(NUC) accrediation exercise visits, formal requests are made by NUC for Universities to present Quality Assurance reports as part of the requirements to be used in appraising programmes for accreditation. the University Committee on quality the

  16. 4. OVERVIEW OF THE CURRENT QUALITY ASSURANCE ADHERENCE PROFILE OF BENUE STATE UNIVERSITY It is pertinent that we, as stakeholders and guarantors of BSU-IQAS, reflect on the quality assurance profile of this University. One of the very prominent quality assurance issues of concern leadership of Benue State University has turned attention to with a view to restoring sanity as it concerns some observed deviations from compliance to the quality assurance tenets in the University is in the realms of (i) timely marking of examination scripts (ii) timely submission of results (iii) timely consideration/approval and release of results, and (iv) timely release of transcripts to graduands. The current University administration met a backlog of pending undergraduate examination results running into several sessions. It is gratifying to note that there are currently hardly any pending 2019/2020 results. that the current

  17. 4. OVERVIEW OF THE CURRENT QUALITY ASSURANCE ADHERENCE PROFILE OF BENUE STATE UNIVERSITY CONTINUED The Postgraduate Examination results in the University have also been massively released. The journey has, no doubt, been rough as the University calendar has witnessed distortions from compliance largely due to strikes embarked upon by University Unions. Needless to say, incidences of University Unions strikes are obvious "injuries" to the quality assurance compliance profile of any University. The seeming lethargy among academic staff (as observed in the incidences of untimely marking of Examination scripts and late submission of examination results) could , perhaps, be attributable to welfare related matters. Thankfully, a number of steps are already been taken by the current University Management to address some of these welfare-related concerns that could, if left unattended to, likely trigger distortions to a successful compliance with the quality assurance tenets of the University. The issue of timely release of transcripts is also a matter associated with best practice quality assurance compliance. The University Management is proactively looking into the provision of an effective results processing system that would seamlessly generate result transcripts of graduates of Benue State University. It is the intention of the current University administration to proactively address deficit concerns of quality assurance compliance that are evident in all the earlier 17 (seventeen) mentioned foci aspects/strategies for implementation of the quality assurance policy of the University.

  18. 5. REINVIGORATING CONSISTENT ADHERENCE TO QUALITY ASSURANCE TENETS IN BSU AND CHALLENGES Universities of international standing and relevance would ordinarily embrace and rigidly adhere to globally adopted best practice of quality assurance strategies and processes. As a University that we would like to see adherence to her Vision and Mission, there is every need for all stakeholders and guarantors of the IQAS to deliberately and, in some instances, sacrificially avail themselves to demand/insist adherence to the processes and mechanisms already put in place to ensure compliance to the quality assurance requirements of the University. It has been(sadly) observed that some statutorily placed IQAS stakeholders and guarantors(including some Deans, Head of Departments and Co-ordinators of Units) are either ignorant of their statutory powers and responsibilities (as representatives of the Vice- Chancellor in their respective Units and ordinarily the Vice-Chancellor would coordination by these Head of Units and thier insistence on compliance to the quality assurance requirements) or else these Heads exercise their powers by holding erring staff accountable for any infractions of the quality assurance requirements. It is, however, generally upheld that the greatness of any University depends largely on the quality of its academic staff and they are its most important assets. expect are simply afraid/unwilling to legimately

  19. 5. REINVIGORATING CONSISTENT ADHERENCE TO QUALITY ASSURANCE TENETS IN BSU AND CHALLENGES CONTINUED True academics/lecturers, apart from having a strong desire for new knowledge and exposure to cutting edge research, are typically eager to passionately impart their knowledge to students and be passionate about reproducing their kind or producing intellectual minds that can continue from where they(as mentors) stopped. True academics are "friends" of their students rather than being "wolves" or "terrors" to them. True academics/lecturers are excited, joyful and feel fulfilled on becoming aware that students they taught are making waves across the globe. True academics should ordinarily feel uncomfortable if they are irregular or fail to attend lectures as at when due. True academics should be uncomfortable with, for instance, remaining sterile in their research publication frequency records. True academics cannot be comfortable leaving examination scripts unpicked over a long period (for instance) in the office of the Head of Department. True academics will be uncomfortable leaving their examinations scripts ,over a long period, unmarked or in disregard to statutory deadlines for submission of examination results.

  20. 5. REINVIGORATING CONSISTENT ASSURANCE TENETS IN BSU AND CHALLENGES CONTINUED True academics should question processes/procedures with a view to giving appropriate defensible direction to the activities of the Vice-Chancellor of University(typically via the University Senate). The list goes on. All that is being alluded to here is that academics(particularly those that are heading academic units/centres of faculties) should typically be at the forefront of the stakeholders and guarantors of successes in the IQAS processes/requirements compliance. In turns out that most of the Units that collectively engage in activities that come under the surveillance of IQAS are headed by academics. In the cases were such heads are not academics, such leaders are nevertheless often well-educated and, would ordinarily be expected to be guided by logic and reliance on due process to ensure compliance with the quality assurance processes/requirements of the IQAS. ADHERENCE TO QUALITY disorderly or illogical and

  21. 5. REINVIGORATING CONSISTENT ADHERENCE TO QUALITY ASSURANCE TENETS IN BSU AND CHALLENGES CONTINUED The challenges are categorized into the following: (i)Failure to take ownership of Quality assurance Policy by not ensuring wide spread constant consultations on various aspects of the policy. It is expected that there should be widespread consciousness and culture of quality assurance among all stake holders. (ii)Funding: This is a very important element in the sustainability of quality assurance policy of the University. Funding is required not only to raise standard at every level but also to fund the activities specified under the policy including the training of quality assurance staff and facilitating their interactions with other institutions in Nigeria and abroad to expose them to international best practices. This, however, does not mean that the level of funding may be used as an excuse for lack of pursuit of standards specified under the policy.

  22. 5. REINVIGORATING CONSISTENT ADHERENCE TO QUALITY ASSURANCE TENETS IN BSU AND CHALLENGES CONTINUED (iii) Monitoring Committees: The work of these committees at various levels is of utmost importance in ensuring sustainability of the quality assurance policy. It is expected that ,over time, quality assurance champions will emerge from the various committees. (iv) Capacity Building : Training and retraining of the staff members of the quality assurance unit as well as self-motivated officials of quality assurance is vital for the sustainability of quality assurance in the University. (v) Institutional Statutory Backing : This policy s effective requires the statutory backing of the University Council via council approval and this indeed is the situation in Benue State University implementation

  23. 6. SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION All Universities that aim to be internationally recognized and globally relevant necessarily put in place quality assurance processes/systems and also deliberately ensure compliance with the quality assurance requirements in order to sustain the institution s impact and relevance. The founding fathers of Benue State University did not envision the existence of a University that would ultimately not be globally/internationally recognized. This informs the adopted vision and mission of this great University. It is therefore encumbent on all stakeholders and guarantors of the Benue State University Internal Quality Assurance System (BSU-IQAS) to take full ownership of the policy put in place to ensure that the University, indeed, not only becomes one of first choice and among the top 200 in the world but, indeed, forges to a higher position as the years go by. In view of the undeniable imperative of adherence to quality assurance tenets/requirements of any focused and globally relevant University, let the University management put in place a funding policy that will ensure the needful facilities and capacity building of the quality assurance personnel is periodically done so Benue state University could pride herself as a quality assurance compliance reference point as well as a University that is ,unarguably, indeed one of first Choice. In the light of this understandable mindset in the University, the Directorate of Academic Planning and Quality Assurance (DAP &QA) will proactively ensure appropriate processes are operational in the University in order to, not only retain the University on the path of excellence but, indeed, keep same on the trajectory of fulfilling it s vision and mission



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