External Quality Assurance Agencies

Subject 460-644 (2009)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2009. Search for this in the current handbook

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 9 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2009:

Semester 2, - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period not applicable
Assessment Period End not applicable
Last date to Self-Enrol not applicable
Census Date not applicable
Last date to Withdraw without fail not applicable

Off campus

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Total Time Commitment: 120 hours total commitment
Prerequisites: 460-696 Teriary Education Policy and Management
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Student Support and Engagement Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Overview, Learning Outcomes, Assessment and Generic Skills sections of this entry.

It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability may impact on meeting the requirements of this subject are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and Student Equity and Disability Support: http://services.unimelb.edu.au/disability


Assoc Prof Leo Goedegebuure
Subject Overview: Building on an understanding of HE management issues, this subject will present various approaches to external quality assurance. Through case illustrations, this subject will present the various roles and responsibilities of the external QA agencies (EQA) in different national settings and the major approaches they follow to serve their policy contexts.

While practices differ, there is agreement on the essentials, to ensure the soundness of the quality assurance framework. Most quality assurance exercises emphasize the importance of self-assessment, based on a set of predetermined criteria, and of an external review carried out by a team of experts. This scenario, marked by diversity in practices as well as agreement on common core elements will be the focus of this subject. In particular, the approaches EQA take towards ‘standards’ and ‘measuring achievement’ will be given an emphasis.

In recent years, the policy developments and quality assurance developments in many countries have been affected by the educational activities that cross national borders. This subject will analyse the increasing significance of cross border education and its implications for national policies on regulation and quality assurance. It will also facilitate discussions on qualifications that cross national borders and recognition arrangements related to that. Other challenges to QA including degree mills and bogus QA agencies, whilst merging boundaries between vocational training and higher education will also be discussed.

The various approaches have different implications and this subject will highlight some significant outcomes and their consequences. The references listed in the section “For Further Reading” will be very useful to appreciate these discussions as well as to contextualise the discussions to one’s national context.

In sum, analysing the various approaches to external quality assurance in different policy contexts is essential to appreciate the quality assurance developments that have taken place, and that is the focus of this subject.

The objectives of this subject are:

  • To present the various approaches to external quality assurance used internationally
  • To illustrate with case studies the purposes served by the specific QA approaches of different countries
  • To highlight the effects of using different approaches
  • To facilitate reflection on the various roles and responsibilities of external quality assurance agencies and the accountabilities associated with them
  • To discuss the ways of developing criteria and reference points for external QA
  • To highlight the emerging challenges to external QA and the role of networks of QA agencies
  • To analyse the increasing significance of cross border education and the implications for national policies on regulation and quality assurance
  • To facilitate discussions on qualifications that cross national borders and the quality assurance and recognition arrangements related to that

Assessment: Two essays with a total of 3,000 words (75 per cent) and one multiple choice examination (25 per cent)
Prescribed Texts: None
Recommended Texts:
  • The case studies on QA commissioned by International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP) and UNESCO
  • The regional reports and desk study overviews on QA commissioned by UNESCO, World Bank, OECD and IIEP
  • A selection from the project reports and evaluation studies undertaken by networks and associations of QA agencies such as ENQA
  • A selection from the resources made available in the websites of INQAAHE
Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills: This subject will enable students to:
  • Have in-depth knowledge of various approaches to external quality assurance
  • Examine critically the contextual factors that account for the approach used by different countries
  • Demonstrate with case studies the suitability of a particular model for a specific national context
  • Apply general principles to a specific situation (probably the student’s country or region) to determine which system or which modifications to existing systems would realistically be effective for the chosen objectives.
Links to further information: www.education.unimelb.edu.au

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