Identify and analyse trends in assurance and improvement of quality processes and outcomes in higher education in your country / state and what impact this could have on your chosen institution. Make reference to the relevant literature.
In the table below, trends in QA / QI in HE in Australia are considered from various perspectives.
Internal vs external quality drivers – driving quality from the inside out.
There seems to be an inherent tension for what is driving quality improvement in HE in Australia which boils down to where the drive for improvement is coming from. The drive to improve may be internal or external. External drivers are intended to ensure that there is a basic standards in place, a safety net which is often quite granular. Relying solely on this to drive quality can have a number of potential downsides. First, it can foster a false sense of security (where extremely basic standards are met), it can discourage pursuit of excellence by providing reassurance that the standards are met and nothing else is required, which is of particular concern if the documentation requirements are onerous , taking away valuable time from getting on with the business of teaching. It takes a determined institution / faculty indeed to improve beyond the basic standards. This capacity for more extensive quality improvement may well be predicated on it having the resources to invest in further innovation and analysis, virtually making a two tiered system.
While basic standards are necessary, ongoing discussion of what quality higher education really means and so these considerations become a fundamental focus of discussions within the industry. This inherent focus and drive will increase the likelihood that improvements in HE will be driven from the inside out – so that there is a “growth mindset” with expansive possibilities for improvement and creativity in education rather than having quality defined at a basic level from the outside in.
Quality Medical Education in Australia
In the last decade, there has been a focus on the medical workforce numbers in Australia, prompting the dramatic rise in medical students across Australia (the so-called medical student tsunami). While the workforce issues has been addressed, flow on implications for quality of medical education has been less of a focus and is perhaps of a greater concern.
Akin to TEQSA, the Australian Medical Council (AMC) defines the standards for medical education at both undergraduate and specialist levels and these requirements are dealt with at the institutional levels. The basic capacity to teach (with a declining workforce and rising student numbers) is another question all together and how quality education can be delivered in this context.
Only basic requirements set out for institutional accreditation of teachers / supervisors who deliver the vast majority of clinical teaching and there is little formalised evaluation of the quality of that education. These conjoint teachers and supervisors do not enter into a paid contract with the institutions and usually engage with learning and teaching for usually altruistic reasons. It is yet to be seen whether peer review of teaching requirements that are increasingly applied to career academics will apply to conjoint teachers. And there is furthermore a risk that if requirements are too great, that the volunteer workforce will disengage. How quality in this setting can be recognised by those teachers, and engaged with as a priority is an important question in ensuring quality medical education in Australia.
- AMC. (2017). Accreditation and REcognition. Retrieved 2017_05_22 from http://www.amc.org.au/accreditation,
- Bradley, D., Noonan, P., Nugent, H., & Scales, B. (2008). Review of Australian higher education. Final report. Canberra, Australia: Commonwealth of Australia
- Probert, B. (2015). The quality of Australia’s higher education system: How it might be defined, improved and assured. Office for Learning and Teaching.
- UNSW (2016). UNSW 2025 Strategy. Retrieved: https://www.2025.unsw.edu.au/sites/default/files/uploads/unsw_2025strategy_201015.pdf
- Uther, P. (2017). Assuring quality in Australia (Moodle forum). Retrieved 2017_05_23 from https://moodle.telt.unsw.edu.au/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=543340