Monitoring and Evaluation of Quality Management Projects in Higher Education

From October 5-16, 2015, a representative from the University of Cambodia, Mr. Chheang Sangvath, Director for the Office of Internal Quality Assurance, attended a workshop entitled, “Professional Develop-ment Program on Monitoring and Evaluation of Quality Management Projects in Higher Education,” at Asia Institute of Technology (AIT), in Bangkok, Thailand. 30 participants were invited from different institutions under the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (MoEYS) such as: Department of Scientific Research (DSR); Department of Higher Education (DHE); and representatives from both public and private higher edu-cation institutions in Cambodia. The course was run by four trainers from AIT including, Dr. Somboowan, Mr. Voravate, Ms. Narumon, and Mr. Thanasal. During the training process, theories and practices were integrated in order to provide deep understanding to the trainees. During his opening remarks, Dr. Jonathan Shaw, Ex-ecutive Director of AIT, mentioned the background of AIT, which focused on postgraduate programs and their impressive 134 faculty members. Additionally, they host 2,000 foreign students from 25 different countries.

A global movement in education reform has brought quality assurance into focus, especially in regards to higher education institutions in the region. Quality assurance (QA) is the systematic process of determining whether products meet customers’ expectations. QA is one of the key components of the technical interven-tion to enhance the management capacity of higher education institutions in an effort to improve education services in Cambodia. The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport recognizes the importance of implement-ing a performance-based management approach, especially within HEIs. The training covered a variety of key points on quality assurance, monitoring, evaluation, budgeting and planning.

Objectives of the Training:
The course aim was to enhance participants’ skills related to quality assurance, financial planning and budget-ing, and monitoring and evaluation. After the completion of the program, participants are meant to be able to:

  • identify the application of quality management concepts in education management;
  • be acquainted with out-come based/performance based approaches, and tools used for program planning and budgeting; and
  • develop and effectively use monitoring and evaluation tools.

I. Quality Assurance:

The National Education Act (NEA) of 1999 further promoted the ‘quality movement’ among Thai edu-cation institutions. According to the NEA, quality assurance in the educational system must be comprised of both internal and external systems. Internal Quality Assurance (IQA) is the responsibility of the institution and its governing agency. The HEI must establish a system and ensure the operation of such system is continuous and effective. External Quality Assurance (EQA) is the responsibility of a newly established public organiza-tion, the Office of the National Education Standards and Quality Assessment (ONESQA).

The National Education Framework for Higher Education in Thailand, better known as the Thailand Qualification Framework (TQF) was created as a guideline for universities to develop new course syllabi specificcally focused on five student learning outcomes: 1) ethical and moral development; 2) knowledge; 3) cognitive skills; 4) interpersonal skills and responsibility; and 5) analytical and communication skills. The objectives of TQF also aimed to foster academic comparisons across differing higher education institutions both in Thailand and internationally.

The Office of Higher Education Commission (OHEC) is responsible for IQA. IQA must be part of the education administration, and is a continuous process. The IQA system for higher education in Thailand was first introduced by the Office of Higher Education Commission (OHEC) in 2007. HEIs are responsible for the development of programs in accordance with standard criteria and educational quality as determined by OHEC. IQA is a mechanism to audit and assess operations of institutions to ensure compliance with TQF standards and institutional policies and purposes. The IQA system requires preparing a self-assessment report and undergoing an annual assessment by an auditing team.

2011 was a very eventful year in terms of natural calamities, political upheavals and economic down-turns. It was also a year to be remembered with changes to the OHEC and ONESQA indicators. Institutions adopted the Self-Assessment Report (SAR), and invited representatives from OHEC to conduct an internal QA on an annual basis. There was a clear mandate, and ONESQA would publish the assessment results to the public. This was to ensure that QA results provide more information to the public and strengthen the account-ability of the education management.

The Office for National Education Standards and Quality Assessment (ONESQA) is responsible for EQA by conducting assessments of HEI’s educational achievements. ONESQA has undergone three rounds of quality assessment at the national level. EQA is mandatory at least once every 5 years; peers review by using a set of KPIs formulated by ONESQA. The third round of assessment began in 2011 and will last until 2015. The indicators were reduced to 6 standards and 18 indicators. These standards are: (1) Quality Graduates; (2) Research and Innovation; (3) Academic Service; (4) Cultural Preservation; (5) Institutional Management and Development; and (6) Internal Quality Assessment (IQA).

II. Monitoring and Evaluation:

Project cycle management (PCM) is the process of planning, organizing, coordinating, and controlling a project effectively and efficiently throughout its phases. By continuously implementing the four key process-es thoughout each phase of a project, one can achieve pre-defined objectives, or satisfy project stakeholders by producing the right deliverable at the right time, cost and quality. The training focused on the application of the project cycle to IQA processes. The session explained the key steps in implementing PCM, and highlighted possible practices that can be used at the university level.
The session on monitoring and evaluation (M&E) described the importantce of M&E in the quality improve-ment process. They highlighted the approach of project evaluation applied by UN agencies that can be adapted for government assessment agencies. The theory of change is integrated into the quality continuous improve-ment by using the concept of Result Based Management (RBM).

III. Budget and Planning

The scope of result-based budgeting approaches, and methods used for public sector project planning were covered during the training. Performance-based budgeting is the practice of developing budgets based on the relationship between program funding levels and expected results from that program. The performance-based budgeting process is a tool that program administrators can use to manage more cost-efficient budget-ing outlays. It is important to understand that performance-based budgeting is not simply the use of program performance information in developing a budget. Performance-based budgeting does more than just inform the resource allocation decisions that go into the development of a traditional type of budget. To design an effective system of performance-based budgeting, it is therefore vital to understand first exactly what the end product itself should be, what it should contain, and how it should look.
A true Performance Budget is not simply a Line-Item (or object class) budget with some program goals at-tached. A real Performance Budget gives a meaningful indication of how the dollars are expected to turn into results.

VI. Lessons Learned

During the training process, participants completed various assignments to put the theories being cov-ered into practice. The program also organized three study tours on quality assurance and university operations at Assumption University (ABAC), Kasertsart University, and Asia Institute of Technology (AIT). The main lessons learned from the assignments and study tours are:

  • Systematic thinking: input, process, output, and outcome.
  • Develop university planning through PCM, PBB and RBM.
  • Develop tools as indicators for quality measurements.
  • Integration between quality assurance, monitoring and evaluation, and budget and planning.
  • SWOT analysis and cause-effect.
  • Job implementation on quality assurance.
  • Using change theory for quality continuous improvement.
  • Turning theory into action.

In summary, at the implementation level, universities must have a long-term education quality im-provement plan. Administrators and management staff of the university need to take a leading role, and be able to introduce changes to service functions. A performance-based feedback system should be adapted to support implementation of the university’s quality improvement plans. The program focuses on internal management systems embedded in the university and offices that help increase overall performance. Officials should be able to apply their knowledge to perform activities and guide operations of education services. External as-sessors and facilitators will serve and assist universities to comply with educational quality management stan-dards. As universities are mandated to comply with rules and regulations of higher authorities in education, allocation of resources and funds is to be in coherence with national goals as well as university outcomes. Therefore, officials should have practical knowledge that equips them to develop effective financial planning and budgeting.

By: Mr. Chheang Sangvath