Thailand Quality Assurance in Higher Education

In higher education, quality assurance is the activity that aims at maintaining and raising the quality in the institutions, e.g. research, analysis, assessing, acceptability, recruitment, appointment procedures, different mechanism and systems. Education Institutions need this activity in order to make higher education meet the need of their stakeholders; e.g. students, society and employers. (Wahlen, 1998)

Thailand Quality Assurance in Higher Education is the result of the 2nd amendment of the National Education Act 1999 which was amended in 2002. The National Education Act 1999 (2nd Amendment in 2002) has set forth aims and rationale for education management that emphasize quality and standard. Since then, the quality assurance in education institution has been acclaimed as the best practice in controlling the quality of education institute.

According to The National Education Act 1999 (2nd Amendment in 2002), the details are delineated in Section 6: Standards and Education Quality Assurance. This assurance is composed of an “Internal Quality Assurance System” and an “External Quality Assurance System”. It is supposed to be a mechanism for maintaining the quality and standards of Thai higher education institutions.

In Thailand, Quality Assurance in Education Institution can be divided into internal and external quality assurance;

Internal Quality Assurance (IQA)

Internal quality assurance aims at institutional improvement and assessment of internal accountability.It incorporates every institutional activity that focuses on quality insurance and development in all the fields of activity of the institution. Internal quality assurance concentrates mainly on academic issues and lies in collecting evidence and information about mission fulfillment, efficiency of activity and ways of insuring quality within the institution. (El-Kjawas, 1998)

In Thailand, the Commission of Higher Education has the responsibility to device standards for higher education which should be in line with the National Economic and Social Development Plan and the National Education Standard.

External Quality Assurance (EQA)

External quality assurance related to the assessment provided by different bodies or individuals outside the higher education institute. Its aim is to achieve accountability. The government institutions usually decide upon the system of external quality assurance of higher education. (Westerheijden, 1998) External quality assurance is necessary in order to prove to the public that the goals set by the institution will be achieved. Higher education institutions bear responsibility to assure their supporters, state and society in general that they are committed to the fulfillments of their mission, use the resources honestly and responsibility and that they meet the legal expectation. (El-Kjawas, 1998)

In Thailand, ONESQA (the Office for National Education Standards and Quality Assessment) is responsible for external quality assurance. The organization is founded with the aims of developing the criteria and methods for external quality assessment. The external quality assessment will be made at least once every 5 years since the last assessment.

The Necessity for Quality Assurance in Higher Education

Higher Education institute in Thailand have 4 main missions: (a) to organize teaching and learning process, (b) to conduct research studies, © to provide academic services to the society, and (d) to preserve arts and culture. A quality assurance system is needed for higher education institutions to succeed in these missionand to meet both short-term and long-term objectives to develop the Nation. Moreover, there are many internal and external factors that accentuate the need for a higher education quality assurance system. These factors are as follow:

  1. The quality levels of higher education institutions and graduates tend to be inequitable due to increasing numbers of newly established institutions.
  2. The intense competition for quality of educational higher education institutions.
  3. Higher education institutions need to develop body of knowledge in order to gain recognition in the global educational community for future international coorperation and national development.
  4. Higher education institutions need to establish confidence in the community that they can produce capable graduates to compete in the international context.
  5. Higher education institutions have to provide public information for the benefit of students, employers, parents, government and the citizen.
  6. The soceity demands for transparent and accountable higher education system.
  7. The National Educational Act 1999 (2nd amendment in 2002) requires all education institutions to establish internal quality assurance system. Moreover, the office of National Education Standards and Quality Assurance to certify educational standards and assess institutions'qualilty is established.
  8. The cabinet agreed in the meeting held on October 26, 2004 to establish sets of National Education Standards proposed by the Ministry of Education. Every education institution in every level is subjected to use these standards as their guideline for education administration.
  9. The Ministry of Education later announced the Higher Education Standards on August 7,2006 for use as the national framework to implement standard systems for all units in higher education institutions.

Reference from Manual for the Intrenal Quality Assurance for Higher Education Institutions 1)

Three Main principles of Quality Assurance

Harvey (1999)mentioned that the quality assurance is based on three main principle which are accountability, control and improvement

Accountability

It means responsibility, answerability, blameworthiness and liability.

Control

It means that the institution does not merely control the expenditure of resources but also shows how high quality is achievable with the existing resources.

Improvement

It is probaly the most widely spread aims of quality assurance

P-D-C-A Cycle

P-D-C-A is typically used in Educational Quality Assurance. The meaning of P-D-C-A is indicated as follows;

P = Plan

Establish the objectives and processes necessary to deliver results in accordance with the expected output. By making the expected output the focus, it differs from other techniques in that the completeness and accuracy of the specification is also part of the improvement.

D = Do

Implement the new processes. Often on a small scale if possible.

C = Check

Measure the new processes and compare the results against the expected results to ascertain any differences.

A = Act

Analyze the differences to determine their cause. Each will be part of either one or more of the P-D-C-A steps. Determine where to apply changes that will include improvement. When a pass through these four steps does not result in the need to improve, refine the scope to which PDCA is applied until there is a plan that involves improvement.