Experiences in developing a set of standards for university accreditation


A student from Foreign Faculty Thai Nguyen University was interviewed by recruiters
A student from Foreign Faculty (Thai Nguyen University) was interviewed by recruiters

Education & Times Newspaper – Thai Nguyen University, with its 7-member universities, were accredited by Ministry of Education and Training for educational quality accreditation in 2017, it is one of the first higher educational institutions across the country completed this activity.

Significantly, Thai Nguyen University have been developing about 11 different processes for educational quality assurance. To learn more about this topic, Education & Times Newspaper reporter had an interview with Dr. Pham Van Hung, Head of Quality Assurance and Testing Department, Thai Nguyen University.

Establishment of Educational Quality Accreditation Centre

* What do you think about the linkage between educational quality assurance and university autonomy?

- University autonomy has a close relation with quality assurance. An accredited educational and training institution shall publish its actual educational quality, current infrastructures and commitments with the society. Therefore, when we maintain an effective educational quality assurance system, we are getting closer to university autonomy.

* With your substantial experiences in university testing and assurance, what are remaining difficulties in higher educational quality assurance and testing?

- A current issue is the number of university and programs offered by each institution have increased and exceeded management’s capacity, making it difficult for those who conduct quality accreditation. Currently, there are 5 independent accreditation centres only, and few more independent centres will be opened. Thai Nguyen University registered to establish one Accreditation Centre. According to state regulations, Thai Nguyen University meet all basic conditions to open an accreditation centre which supports Ministry of Education & Training and the Government to implement accreditation activities.

Barriers to educational quality accreditation

* We heard that you and your colleagues have been developing a set of standards for educational accreditation and assurance at Thai Nguyen University. Could you please share more about the progress of this activity?

- I and some colleagues at Thai Nguyen University have participated in an Australia Award short course in University Quality Assurance provided by Aus4Skills. During our study in Australia, we recognized that Vietnamese universities have established some processes for curricula development, university administration, objectives and standards development, etc. However, Australian university established, followed strictly all processes as well as monitored the implementation. The most meaningful lesson we have learnt from Australian experts are university leaders’ commitment at levels and attitude of each university staff in conducting steps toward university quality assurance.

From knowledge and experiences shared by Australian experts, Thai Nguyen University set out policies, procedures, and tools for quality assurance at different programs: Reviewing and developing objectives and program outcome standards, designing curricula satisfying program outcome standards; recruiting and training lecturers satisfying curriculum’s requirements; innovating teaching methods, innovating testing and evaluation methods in accordance to program outcome standards; organizing activities and services supporting learners to achieve the outcome standards; investing in infrastructure and equipment with clear evaluation and review processes; providing mechanisms for quality improvement, etc.

We developed about 11 processes concerning educational quality assurance. These 11 processes have been developed in close relation with 11 standards in ASEAN University Network Quality Assurance Standard (AUN-QA).

* Many experts thought that conflicts in terms of benefits, human resources, etc. are highly likely to occur while uplifting quality assurance. How Thai Nguyen University have approached and solved this challenge?

- Maybe this is the most challenging part in educational quality improvement, evaluation, and accreditation. Vietnamese universities used to provide what we have, rather than what the society needs. In the transition to new form of education, beneficial conflicts among individuals, groups, or programs will surely happen. However, to ensure the development of a university, the utmost priority is satisfying needs of the society and learners.

The most important answer for the situation is improving awareness of the university’s staff and lecturers. In addition, before establishing and implementing new policies, they should be involved in the discussion and decision-making process. Furthermore, the program’s design should be flexible and integral to subjects. We used to design separate modules in programs. However, subjects are currently provided in close relation for educational quality improvement.
In my opinion, university quality evaluation and accreditation are not easy but is necessary for the university’s growth.

*We heard that Australian experts have come to Vietnam and supported Thai Nguyen University to overcome difficulties during quality accreditation process. Could you please share more about their activities and consultancy?

- There are issues that we found difficult to discuss internally but can share with outsiders. Therefore, we organized a workshop gathering a large number of Thai Nguyen university staff and lecturers, and gave questions covering many issues to Australian experts, such as: basic definitions, tools, policies, solutions for optimal implementation of university quality accreditation.

* Thank you very much!


Dr Pham Van Hung
Dr. Pham Van Hung

“University quality assurance is different from investment in science, infrastructure, an equipment because it requires training processes which takes at least 4-5 years to evaluate the outcomes – after learners graduate. We are impressed and fully agreed with an opinion of Australian experts, which is: At a factory, defective products can be disposed while a university cannot make that mistake. We must regularly monitor, evaluate, and check our works – this is quality assurance process” - said Dr. Pham Van Hung


Source: Translation of an article on Education and Times Newspaper