Project Title

Quality in Higher Education: Identifying, Developing, and Sustaining Best Practices in the APEC Region 

Project Year

2010   

Project Number

HRD 04 2010 

Project Session

Session 3   

Project Type

Standard 

Project Status

Completed Project   
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Project No.

HRD 04 2010 

Project Title

Quality in Higher Education: Identifying, Developing, and Sustaining Best Practices in the APEC Region 

Project Status

Completed Project 

Publication (if any)

 

Fund Account

Operational Account 

Sub-fund

None 

Project Year

2010 

Project Session

Session 3 

APEC Funding

159,501 

Co-funding Amount

159,750 

Total Project Value

319,251 

Sponsoring Forum

Human Resource Development Working Group (HRDWG) 

Topics

Human Resources Development 

Committee

SOM Steering Committee on Economic and Technical Cooperation (SCE) 

Other Fora Involved

Not Applicable / Other 

Other Non-APEC Stakeholders Involved

Not Applicable

Proposing Economy(ies)

United States 

Co-Sponsoring Economies

Australia; Canada; Chile; China; Indonesia; Japan; New Zealand; Peru 

Expected Start Date

16/12/2010 

Expected Completion Date

31/12/2011 

Project Proponent Name 1

Joanne Y. Taira, PhD 

Job Title 1

Special Assistant for Planning and Policy 

Organization 1

University of Hawai’i System 

Postal Address 1

2444 Dole Street, Bachman Hall 202, Honolulu, Hawai‘i 96822, USA 

Telephone 1

(808) 956-4367 

Fax 1

(808) 956-9119 

Email 1

tairaj@hawaii.edu 

Project Proponent Name 2

Not Applicable 

Job Title 2

Not Applicable 

Organization 2

Not Applicable 

Postal Address 2

Not Applicable 

Telephone 2

Not Applicable 

Fax 2

Not Applicable 

Email 2

Not Applicable 

Declaration

Not Applicable 

Project Summary

Economic growth and development in the Asia Pacific region depend on the quality of education and training available.  Defining and identifying quality are notoriously difficult and constitute a perennial challenge in higher education; seeking to assure it within higher education institutions is another.

What constitutes quality in an educational program or institution?  How do we know quality when we see it?  Even as governments, universities, and colleges across the APEC region grapple with the concept of quality, they have responded to the press for quality assurance by designing assessment systems and working with higher education institutions to improve quality across institutions, within programs, across research endeavors, and certainly with respect to teaching and learning. 

Across the APEC region, approaches to quality have involved both regulatory and voluntary models. The need to create and assure higher education quality has been linked to issues of creating sufficient higher education capacity, assuring important social values such as equity through access, and to the need for graduates to possess qualities and skills that can be meaningfully used in societies experiencing rapid and profound change. As higher education institutions in all countries struggle to adapt to such changes, the issue of how to develop quality in all aspects of higher education and how to sustain it has become a constant feature of the higher education landscape.

Despite the challenges and difficulties involved, successes abound. Throughout the region one can locate instances in which initiatives to assure and sustain quality are being identified, developed, and practiced at higher education institutions. In examining these instances of success, one is able to discover common elements that are attributes of exemplary practice. 

The objective of this project is to identify ways in which quality initiatives are being defined, developed, and practiced within higher education programs, institutions, or governments in the APEC region and in the process discover common and sustainable elements that are attributes of exemplary practice.  These elements would include practices that ensure equitable participation in higher education by women.  Major project activities will include the examination of papers submitted by practitioners around the APEC region that describe case studies and best practices.  These particular and diverse examples will inform common understandings and clarify the interaction among concepts such as access, equity, and finance and their relationship to quality.  Papers will be presented and discussed at a 3-day meeting in Honolulu, August 4-6, 2011, followed by publication of the papers and linking of participants through an ongoing network.

Relevance

The focus of this project directly responds to the priority expressed in the 2008 Joint Statement of Education Ministers at the 4th APEC Educational Ministerial Meeting in Lima, Peru that, “quality education for all is our common goal.”  The ministers stated that ensuring that all students receive quality education will help bridge economic chasms within economies and throughout the Asia-Pacific region while it improves the quality of life of citizens and promotes prosperity. 

This project is aligned in methodology and intended outcomes with the ministers’ endorsement of EDNET’s direction toward evidence-based practice and research as well as their recognition that economic, social, and cultural differences among APEC economies will enrich collaborative work that promotes 21st Century skills and competencies among students while it ensures equity and inclusion.  In gathering case studies and examples of practices that support and define quality from around the region, this project will be evidence-based.  Furthermore, by inviting examples from around the APEC region, the project is expected to include differences in approach based on a diversity of social and cultural understandings and economic resources.

This project also responds to the 1996 APEC Economic Leaders Declaration of the importance of human capital development and the objectives that guide HRDWG networks to:  1) develop 21st century knowledge and skills for all; 2) integrate HRD into the global economy; and 3) address the social dimensions of increasing global interdependence.

The project will address quality education and training as a foundation of long-term inclusive growth and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region.  Higher education that builds capacity through a skilled workforce, research, and innovation supports human resource development that is inclusive, closes opportunity disparities across the region, and promotes the welfare of citizens.  Intrinsic to these issues is the definition of quality. This project is relevant because it will generate discourse that will identify and help define the attributes of quality in higher education across the region and help create models based on evidence of successful practices that recognize economic, social, and cultural differences.  In the process, the project will examine the scalability and sustainability of quality practices and their relevance throughout the region.

Objectives

Through the presentation and analysis of case studies of outstanding instances of quality in higher education and its varieties of assessment and through the interactions of the 3-day meeting this project seeks to:

Initiate a sustained discourse and collaboration that will help identify a common set of referents of quality in higher education and articulate its essential aspects and elements.

Propose discrete actions and models, based on successful practices that can be adapted to particular circumstances to achieve sustainable improvements in quality across a range of higher education institutions.

Alignment

The urgency of this project arises in part from the rapid—and in many cases—unchecked expansion of higher education capacity within portions of the APEC community, especially in China and South East Asia.  While this rapid expansion has provided a first level of access for hundreds of thousands of students, it has also had the unhappy consequence of creating institutions in many places of extremely doubtful quality. The kinds of papers provided in this conference and their follow up activities among participants can go far toward addressing critical issues of defining and measuring quality and providing good practice examples of what such institutions can do to meeting their extant quality crises.

TILF/ASF Justification

Not Applicable

Beneficiaries and Outputs

The conference “work” is meant to assist those involved in the policy process to better understand the wide range of higher education quality as a field and activity and to provide them with existing examples of successful quality endeavors. In this sense the “policy field” includes those active in government, responsible for higher education and its funding, concerned elements of the higher education stakeholder community including students and their families, the business community, and NGOs and other members of civil society working to improve higher education quality.  In this regard it is useful to underscore that the invited paper participants will include acknowledged leaders in higher education quality improvement endeavors, including but not limited to many of the outstanding scholars and policy analysts of this activity.

Lastly, scholars working in the area as well as quality assessment practitioners in both public and private sectors, and those seeking to develop quality assurance as a regional and/or multinational endeavor will benefit directly from the conference.


-----------------------------

The project is expected to produce two related publications—the pre-conference papers

designed for the specific cluster presentations, and the post-conference volume that will include material developed during the conference. 

These research products will be a vehicle for creating and seeking to develop mechanisms to sustain a research and policy network that will continue onward subsequent to the conference. One of the final sessions of the conference will be dedicated to a session focused on the constituent elements of such a network, provisions for how it might operate, and discussions regarding staffing and out-year funding.  One goal is an explicit commitment by participants for a subsequent meeting to follow-up on the elements developed in this specified project.

It is expected that the project outputs will contribute transparency to discussions of quality, and this has implications for the understanding of issues such as access and equity which benefit a range of stakeholder groups and beneficiaries of higher education.

------------------------------

Upon notification of funding the current steering committee, consisting of representatives from the University of Hawaii and the East-West Center will create and provide to targeted constituencies throughout the region a description of the project and its intended outcomes. The purpose is to begin identification of those from a variety of stakeholder communities including governments, private sector entities, civil society (which increasingly includes many of the major universities in the region that have been provided with some form of autonomy), and other groups who may make targeted and invited presentations to the project.  The intent is to have representation from throughout the APEC region.  The current format of the conference is to provide between 16 and 20 papers on specific predetermined subjects. Presenters will be drawn from the APEC economies.  Economies that are not represented by a paper or keynote presenter will be asked to contribute moderators, panelists, and other conference participants. In total, the conference will aim toward the invitation of approximately 60 individuals from APEC economies.

The project overseer will contact other multilateral organizations, such as ASEAN, the Asia Pacific Network for Quality Assurance, (APNQA), the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), the Asia Pacific University Network (APUN), the Southeast Asia Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO), and others of similar orientation to explore collaboration and linkages and to reach out broadly to solicit papers or participation in the symposium.

Project evaluation will be conducted in accordance with the Guidebook on APEC Projects.  Participants, including speakers and presenters, will be asked to complete an evaluation questionnaire of the symposium.

Dissemination

a.       Nature of the target audience:  symposia participants as well as university or government policymakers; researchers; faculty; students; beneficiaries of higher education services, public and private with particular attention given to those with interests in the creation and maintenance of higher education quality..
b.       Form and content:  Invited papers will be developed prior to the meeting and distributed to all attendees. Subsequent to the meeting papers will be revised based on meeting critique and commentary, and submitted for publication to APEC.   A blog will be initiated in accordance with the sustainability plan developed by the conference. This internet expression will provide wide access to the conference papers and serve as a site for further subject matter discussions and development of work groups emerging from the meeting.  The APEC HRD wiki site will be used as a dissemination tool and a platform for further collaboration.
c.       Format:  In addition to the book to be developed after the conference, hard copies of the invited papers will be produced for conference attendees and PDF copies made available through various websites.
d.       Number of copies:  The hard copy run for the conference participants will be approximately 100.  The publication run from the post-conference volume will follow APEC publication norms.

e.       Publicity plan for: (1)   Media: (a) promotion of book for review by selected academic journals; (b) various web-based newsletters focused on higher education; (c) education editors of newspapers in the US, Canada, China, Thailand, Japan, Korea, etc.

(2)   Conference proceedings will be uploaded to the APEC Publications database website.

Gender

Over the past two and a half decades, with some notable exceptions, one of the most far reaching aspects of higher education transformation and reform has been the restatusing of women.  At the administrative level women now commonly occupy such positions, save for those at the very top of administrative hierarchies, and indeed in some APEC economies the number of women CEO’s and those occupying the second rank has grown significantly. Given these developments, this conference is designed to acknowledge this continued movement toward gender equity and enhance it in terms of the manner in which participants have been recruited for key presentational roles, and as a fraction of the overall participants to the project.

-----------------------------

A major goal of this project is to make contributions to on-going policy discourses about higher education: about its purposes, about how it seeks to conceive of and achieve quality, about who its outcomes serve, and at what costs to whom. Women occupy a central place within this policy discourse, in part through the common observation that in many environments (e.g. North America) their presence has radically increased over the past several decades and may be expected to continue to do so.

In short, women benefit from this exercise by occupying a central place—one that touches on issues such as their role in participation and access,  their recruitment to various disciplines, their relative equality with men in academic placement, and their targeting for participation support in higher education training.

Work Plan

a) The primary underlying structural determinant for the conference is its organization into four clusters.  Cumulatively these stage the approach to this subject matter by moving from the general to the specific—from a generalized but disciplined presentation of complexities that make up discussions of quality, especially higher education quality, to detailed case studies at the institutional or programmatic level of how quality is manifest. Central to this organization is situating the differing approaches to quality assurance that have been taken throughout the APEC constituency including through multi-national and regional approaches.

Following this logic, the four clusters for which invited papers will be sought are:

Cluster One: What is Quality and what is Quality Assurance?

How do we conceptualize QA/Accreditation, variations within the region, the changes that are occurring in the US, and elsewhere, etc.? What are the compelling and dominant models of QA?  What models seem to work best in given circumstances?

Cluster Two: Rankings

A force operating throughout the region with continually greater involvement by those within and outside the higher education sector is the phenomenon of university rankings. Thesehave proved highly controversial, but seem to be firmly established as a constant within the APEC higher education environment. This cluster explores the positives and negatives of rankings and seeks to clarify whether they have a critical and important role within formal Quality Assurance.

Cluster Three: Regional and Country Exemplars

What works well and why?  This cluster is dedicated to the examination of specific instances of acknowledged higher education quality and the assurance processes with which they are associated. Papers in this cluster will be focused on sorting through the complexities and differing contexts within which higher education quality occurs and seek to determine both the causes of these (what accounts for these quality performances?) and how to scale them up.  Of particular concern within this cluster will be examples of successful contributions to achieving access and equity.

Cluster Four: The Global University Endeavor

Throughout the region we observe a concern at the national level to establish at least a small group of national universities as equal to some powerful if unspecified notion of a “global” or “globally competitive” university. The papers in this cluster will be devoted to raising the issue of what this discourse really amounts to as a possible way of creating de facto standards of excellence. We wish to raise the question of whether such a compelling idea operating at the policy level within nations is a fruitful pathway toward excellence across the whole of national educational institutions. We also wish to seek to extract from this analysis and presentation further contributions to our inventory of best practices for quality.

b) Timeline

1)    The meeting is targeted for 3 days, August 4-6, 2011 in Honolulu.  The period November-December is dedicated toward developing specific subject boundaries for the invited papers.  A brief “concept” paper will be developed for all four clusters to provide suggestive directions for cluster presentations. 2)    All invitations will be extended by the end of January 2011. 3)    Abstracts of papers will be due by the end of March 2011 to permit planning committee staff to comment on the proposed papers. 4)    All papers will be due by May 31. 5)    Papers developed for the conference and additional papers emerging from the conference will be developed in two parts. All pre-conference invited papers will be published for conference attendees, available in  August 2011. 6)    Following the conference, all papers will be re-edited for subsequent APEC publication along with the presentation of keynoters and other relevant materials developed during the conference. 7)    All edited materials will be transmitted to APEC prior to December 31, 2011. 

         Implementation steps:

Step 1

Nov. - Dec. 2010

- Develop specific subject boundaries based on four concept clusters.

Step 2

January 2011

- Extend invitations to submit papers.

Step 3

March 2011

- Deadline for paper abstracts

- Distribute to planning committee for comment.

Step 4

May, 2011

- Deadline for papers

Step 5

July 2011

- Deadline for publishing papers prior to August meeting

Step 6

August 4-6, 2011

- August meeting in Honolulu

Step 7

December 31, 2011

- Complete editing of all papers for publication.

 ------------------------
All 21 APEC member economies will be invited to participate in the Honolulu symposium as presenters, moderators, panelists, or in other roles.

Risks

Risks, such as delay in submission or revision of papers or failure to submit will be mitigated by extending invitations to a slightly larger number of papers than required and to those with an expressed interest in paper presentation.

Monitoring and Evaluation

The project is currently in the planning stage.

The next stage consists of identifying potential paper writers for the meeting whose talents and capabilities are consistent with the goals of the conference.

The third stage consists of papers being prepared on time and on subject with respect to the delineated topic for each participant.

The fourth stage consists of publication of the papers in time for the conference, convening in August 2011.

The fifth stage consists of presentation and discussion of the papers which will be supplemented by the “capture” of discussions throughout the conference and the substance of three keynote presentations given during the conference. The final keynote presentation will be a “capture and conclusion” presentation by an eminent scholar in higher education quality matters, meant both to summarize key points of the conference and to create an agenda for actions to be undertaken in the coming months and years.

The sixth and final stage of the process will be a peer-reviewed publication of the entire body of work and the linking of all participants to an on-going internet blog devoted to advances in higher education quality.

Objective A:  The “quality conversation” among APEC members is currently uneven and disparate, with identifiable (and rich) centers of activity in some locations and early steps toward developing both an effective quality language and techniques for assessment and evaluation in others.  The end-of-project target is to initiate an inclusive discourse aimed at gaining agreement on elements of quality assurance and brokering best practices.  The papers developed for and presented at the conference are a major contributor toward this objective, as is the published volume to be developed shortly after the conference. The final chapter of the book, which is to be based on and contain the conference chapters. will be an effort by the book’s editors to synthesize conference activity in the direction of creating a consensual language for quality assurance applicable to all APEC members.

Objective B: The identification and exploration of outstanding instances of quality in higher education is in its initial stage. The consultants to this project have broad ties to higher education institutions within the APEC community, and it is their task to identify both discrete subject matter for the papers and keynote addresses that will be key features of this conference, and to identify, contact, and gain commitment from presenters to the event. The end of project target consists of the published volume of the conference papers and the pursuit of an on-going network affiliation of those working on common aspects of these issues throughout the region.

Objective C envisions developing a common set of referents for quality and an ability to articulate its essential aspects and elements as derived through best practices and the critical analysis of case studies. As with the foregoing objective, the first aspect of this objective becomes realized through the papers and interactions produced by the conference. The second portion becomes realized through post conference activity in the engagements provided by the proposed network, including consultations of experts across APEC economies, a rich inter-net blog, and subsequent meetings, perhaps sub-regional that will follow in the next few years following the August 2011 event.

In the short term the overall success of the conference will be assessed in part by the peer review and subsequent publication of materials presented at the conference, including the pre-conference prepared papers. A second measure is the development of a sustainability plan during the conference to be presented for adoption by conference participants outlining post-conference activity to be undertaken by participants and many of the organizations they represent.

The conference day will be organized to enable development of a sustainability plan. Each day will be devoted 80 percent to content presentations, followed by a separate session devoted to development of post-conference events and projects.  Conference staff will develop such a draft plan in consultation with invited paper givers and critique and development of that plan will take place during the conference leading up to presentation of an agreed plan as the final act of conference business. Because of the direct participatory nature of this endeavor it is not possible at this time to specify the exact nature of such a plan, but the goal is to promote “buy-in” from various representatives to the conference who are interested in the further development of higher education quality discussions and practices within their own national and local settings.

Over the medium term, the inclusiveness and richness of discourse focused on quality in higher education as well as practical proposals that emanate from the discourse will be the       best measure of the project’s worth. Elements developed within the sustainability plan focused on the creation of communication strategies among participations, information sharing, and continued exploration of best practices within national and local higher education environments also will make up medium term accomplishments.

Linkages

While the proposed project will not address every aspect covered by the following past and ongoing projects, the proposed project will build on the body of knowledge of higher education quality that these projects address indirectly:

·          HRD 12/2009 Higher Education Diploma Supplement (ongoing)

·          HRD 04/2008 - Mapping of Qualifications Frameworks across APEC Economies
      (completed)

·          HRD 02/2008T - Measures Affecting Cross Border Exchange and Investment in
      Higher Education in the APEC Region (completed).
By inviting the participation and input from APEC economies, including developing economies, to frame notions and experiences of quality, the project facilitates an exchange of information from a diversity of cultures, economies, and educational systems throughout the Asia-Pacific region.  The project’s topic, implementation plans, and expected outcomes seem especially in keeping with APEC’s role as a non-governmental group operating through open dialogue, mutual respect, and voluntary commitment.

Sustainability

Not Applicable

Project Overseers

Not Applicable

Cost Efficiency

Not Applicable

Drawdown Timetable

Not Applicable

Direct Labour

Not Applicable

Waivers

This proposal requests that, if appropriate, advance funding for airfares or accommodations be approved for participants from travel-eligible economies.  Waivers will be requested for government officials.

Are there any supporting document attached?

No 
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Project No.

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Publication (if any)

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Co-funding Amount

Total Project Value

Sponsoring Forum

Topics

Committee

Other Fora Involved

Other Non-APEC Stakeholders Involved

Proposing Economy(ies)

Co-Sponsoring Economies

Expected Start Date

Expected Completion Date

Project Proponent Name 1

Job Title 1

Organization 1

Postal Address 1

Telephone 1

Fax 1

Email 1

Project Proponent Name 2

Job Title 2

Organization 2

Postal Address 2

Telephone 2

Fax 2

Email 2

Declaration

Project Summary

Relevance

Objectives

Alignment

TILF/ASF Justification

Beneficiaries and Outputs

Dissemination

Gender

Work Plan

Risks

Monitoring and Evaluation

Linkages

Sustainability

Project Overseers

Cost Efficiency

Drawdown Timetable

Direct Labour

Waivers

Are there any supporting document attached?

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