Quality is a complex term which depends on the person defining it.It is the same as beauty which is variously defined depending on the beholder. Quality is multi-dimensional because it involves inputs, processes and outputs. It is also set by requirements of the stakeholders who in case of higher education include: students, academia, industry(labour market or employers).society at large and governments.
Attempts to define quality yield the following perspectives:
- Achieving our goals in an efficient and effective way assuming that the goals reflect the requirements of all stakeholders
- Exceptional(excellent, perfect)
- Fit for purpose
- With value for money
The standards and criteria that provide a common ground for all stakeholders therefore become difficult to define since each category of stakeholders view the quality of graduates through different lenses. Moreover, different academic disciplines too define these standards differently. In other words, what a graduate engineer is expected to learn to earn his/her Bachelor’s degree is far different from what an economist is expected to learn from the same university.
Kabale University established the Quality Assurance Unit in 2012 which is being run by a Quality Assurance Officer who reports directly to the Vice Chancellor. The Unit will soon recruit a Director and thus get elevated to a Directorate. The Unit has so far drafted the University Quality Assurance Policy, the Directorate’s Strategic Plan for the next ten years and the University Code of Conduct which shall soon be discussed by the University Quality Assurance Committee and University Council. As evidence of the internal quality assurance mechanisms, the Unit instituted forms to be filled by students to check the lecture attendance of lecturers on daily basis and an evaluation of the courses and lecturers by the students at the end of the semester. The University is also a member of the Ugandan Universities Quality Assurance Forum(UUQAF),the East African Quality Assurance Network(EAQAN),the Uganda Vice Chancellors’ Forum(UVCF) and the Inter-University Council for East Africa(IUCEA).This membership has benefited the Quality Assurance Unit tremendously through training of the Quality Assurance Officer.
By John Michael Edoru
Quality Assurance Officer