The term ‘Quality Assurance’ has become a common vocabulary in global higher education management and practices. This could be attributed to the recent rapid expansion and massification of university education around the world which has diminished the traditional elitist nature of the University as an institution. This questions the relevance and efficacy of university services.
Since its inception in 1993, UMU has always emphasized the need for quality assurance in institutional activities right from department, faculty, up to institutional level. There was no organized institutional unit to coordinate QA activities until 2006 when UMU management following the advice of the Interuniversity Council of East Africa nominated members of the quality assurance committee. However, the said committee’s mandate was limited to ensuring that the university conducts a statutory requirement of having Institutional Self Assessment (ISA).
The need to promote transparency and allow evaluation of university performance by stakeholders against the established institutional goals and objectives as elements of social accountability could not be underestimated. This necessitated establishing internal arrangements for monitoring and continuous improvement of quality in all UMU services. Additionally, the need for cross-border harmonization of quality standards in higher education justified mandatory instituting of internal quality assurance mechanisms that would prepare the institution for external evaluation and accreditation.
The pivotal role of the QAD to coordinate quality assurance processes and to provide professional support in matters of quality assurance to other units of the university is underscored. The QAD also functions as a link organ between the University and external regulatory bodies, such as the NCHE, IUCEA, and ACUQA, among others.
QAD at UMU is the directorate concerned with ensuring that all the planned and systematic actions are implemented within the quality system. The Department is entrusted with the duty of assessing and evaluating teaching and learning, research and all those services that support the quality of learning at UMU. In its undertaking, QAD is guided by the UMU QA policy 2015.
A brief history of QAD
The Quality Assurance Unit at UMU was formally established in 2008 with two part-time staff. One was acting as Quality Assurance (QA) Coordinator and the other as an Administrator/Editor. The QA Unit acquired office space and facilities in 2010. It is in the same year that the QA Unit obtained a Directorate status and two new full-time staff were employed to run the directorate. They included a Coordinator and an Administrator. In August 2011, a QA Director was appointed but served for a short time and resigned in May 2012. In April 2012 the QA Coordinator left for further studies and immediately a replacement was made.
In April 2014 QAD got a second Administrator and therefore the Directorate had 3 active members of staff up to October 2015 when the QA Coordinator also left for further studies. The position of the QA Coordinator was advertised. However, with the Staff Audit that was taking place at that time, the position was scrapped and also deleted from the organogram of QA Directorate (QA Policy, 2015).
Structure for Quality Assurance Directorate at UMU
Roles of Quality Assurance Directorate
As stated in the Quality Assurance Policy, March 2015, the Directorate is supposed to ensure:
- Improved and sustained quality in academic programs,
- The quality of staff is enhanced.
- Quality in teaching and learning is improved upon.
- Quality in support services is enhanced.
- Quality of resources and facilities continuously improve.
- Quality of research and publication is maintained high.
- Ugandan University Quality Assurance Forum (UUQAF)
- East African Quality Assurance Network (EAQAN)
- African Catholic Universities Quality Agency (ACUQA)
- Association of African Universities (AAU)
- Inter-University.Council of East Africa (IUCEA)