Strengthening Internal and External Quality Assurance in Cambodia’s Higher Education

By: Dr. Y Ratana, Vice President of Academic Affairs, and Mr. Ro Vannak, Deputy Director of the Office of Internal Quality Assurance

On February 25th, 2016, representatives from the University of Cambodia, Dr. Y Ratana, Vice Presi-dent of Academic Affairs (VPAA), Mr. Cheng Vichet, Assistant to the VPAA, and Mr. Ro Vannak, Deputy Director of the Offiice of Internal Quality Assessment (IQA), were invited to attend a workshop entitled, “Strengthening Internal and External Quality Assurance in Cambodia’s Higher Education,” by the Department of Higher Education, MoEYS. Workshop participants included representatives from different institutions under the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, such as: the Department of Higher Education (DHE), the Department of Scientific Research (DSR), the Accreditation Committee of Cambodia (ACC), representatives from both private and public higher education institutions in Cambodia, and representatives from UNESCO. The workshop’s key speaker was Dr. Ros Soveacha, Education and Training Consultant.

During his opening remarks, H.E. Mak Ngoy, Director General of the Department of Higher Education, spoke about the importance of providing quality education in Cambodia and the efforts to integrate a globalize framework of quality assurance into Cambodia’s accreditation process. MoEYS is undertaking these efforts in response to globalization, regionalization, and the free flow of labor forces. He also mentioned that ACC plays an important external role in IQA for higher education in Cambodia.

Following the opening remarks, H.E. Youk Ngoy, Secretary of State of MoEYS, delivered his welcoming remarks in which he spoke about the importance of quality assurance in higher education. He focused on Cambodia’s efforts to comply with the four principles of the UN’s Education goals including Equitability, Quality, Inclusiveness, and Lifelong Learning. He also mentioned MoEYS’ Vision 2030, which ensures inclusive equitability, market-based academic programs, and a high quality of learning, teaching, research, and inspection.

The purposes of this workshop were:

  • To enhance the understanding of quality accreditation of higher education for both  IQA and EQA;
  • to promote institutional capacity-building and partnerships; and
  • to gain mutual understanding between DHE, ACC, and all public and private higher education institutions in Cambodia.

Thereafter, Dr. Soveacha presented his findings, and led discussions on Strengthening Internal and External Quality Assurance in Cambodia’s Higher Education. He explained that the purposes of QA are to respond to learners’ needs, to meet job market demands, to enhance standards of academic aspects, to promote accountability, and to rank at national and international levels. The methods of QA are Self-Assessment, Accreditation and Peer Review. He explained that there are five essential conditions for effective QA:

  1. The presence of academically qualified staff;
  2. The need for academics to be employed in one full-time job at one institution;
  3. The presence of adequate physical, electronic, and administrative support services;
  4. The appointment and promotion of staff based on academic merit and not on political or social conditions; and
  5. The presence of a fair degree of academic freedom.

Additionally, he spoke about external QA entities and how they should act with an autonomous responsibility for decision making and operation, collaborate with stakeholders, be equipped with sufficient and sustainable resources, create reliable internal processes, and to inform the public about assessment results for educational quality assurance. He stressed that EQA must be related to IQA within HEIs, and make sure that the interests of learners and society as a whole are at the center of quality practices. In addition, standards of EQA must be developed by involving key stakeholders, and must be applied consistently.

In regards to internal entities, each HEI holds the primary responsibility for ensuring quality, and there must be a structured and functional internal quality system. Moreover, each HEI must have sufficient resources to maintain an effective quality system (a formal system to approve, review, and monitor programs), and regular quality monitoring for continuous quality improvement (CQI) purposes.

After the presentation, participants were given a chance to ask questions and raise concerns; UC’s representative expressed his concerns about the DHE’s evaluation. He noted the extensive amount of paper-work, and the human and financial resources required to conduct DHE’s new IQA evaluation programs. He suggested that DHE widely spread the information, and ensure that all indicators and assessments are the same as ACC’s to avoid unnecessary work. He requested that DHE host trainings to review these issues.

In his closing remarks, H.E. Mak Ngoy, appreciated the contributions of the participants, and thanked the presenters and organizers of the workshop. Moreover, he noted that this was a very meaningful workshop, and noted that participants appear to have learned a lot from it. Additionally, he encouraged all involved par-ties to focus on learning outcomes, the National Qualification Framework, and the Mutual Agreement Frame-work to improve quality assurance in Cambodia.


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