ACADEMIC quality is an expression often invoked repeatedly by various stakeholders. Parents choose where to enroll their children. In graduate studies, students decide for themselves which university to pursue their studies. These actors would prefer to enroll in a school recognized for its academic quality. In addition, employers, typically human resource managers, interviewing candidates for vacancies, associations pre-screening candidates for board membership, and where other such choices are made, would ensure that, among other qualifications, the alma mater of these individuals is known for its high standard of academic quality. Ultimately, all of these examples show that academic quality – the experiences we were exposed to as students – could give us the break needed for a successful future.

Academic quality. High academic quality, high academic standards, quality education – these are phrases used interchangeably in our conversations. What substance/essential elements do these phrases encompass? We start with the word “quality”. In the context of a university, quality refers to “the set of characteristics and characteristics of the (educational) service which influence its ability to meet given needs”. (American Society for Quality) Quality refers to “an inherent or distinctive characteristic, degree or mark of excellence”. (Google, November 1, 2001) A search on university ranking systems asked if there is an overall definition of academic quality. (A Cross-National Analysis of University Ranking Systems – https://www.semanticscholar.org › article › Is-There-a-Glo…) You might like to read this study which sought answers to two main questions : one, whether there is “an emerging international consensus on the measurement of academic quality as reflected in these ranking systems” and two “what impact do the different ranking systems have on universities and academic behavior in their respective countries”. Academic quality is defined as “the extent to which learning opportunities [are] available at a university for students [to] help them get their prize. The “how” relates to what the university does to ensure “that appropriate and effective teaching, support, assessment and learning opportunities are provided” to students. This expression implies “the effectiveness of learning and teaching”. methods, opportunities, and resources to guide students through graduation.” (Google, February 12, 2021)

Academic standards and quality assurance. Before and even more so during this pandemic, and our reliance on online courses, what do academic standards mean in relation to quality education? It has become a much-discussed topic among international educational organizations such as Unesco. Before the pandemic, Altbach et al. (2009, p. xi) wrote in his report for the UNESCO World Conference on Higher Education, “that globalization, regional integration and the ever-increasing mobility of students and scholars have made even more necessary the need for internationally recognized standards among and between nations. The explosive growth of traditional institutions and new providers raises new questions about quality standards. The report further notes that “the ‘consumers’ of education… are demanding some kind of certification of institutions and the qualifications they deliver”. (https://www.science direct.com/topics/social-sciences/academic-standards) Since quality

applies to the “degree of services and processes to which a set of inherent characteristics (attributes) of the object satisfies a set of requirements”, the quality of an object is therefore “determined by comparing a predetermined set of characteristics has a [university’s] set of standards.” “If these characteristics comply with the requirements, high quality is achieved, but if these characteristics do not comply, low or poor quality is achieved.” (https://qcmr-1.itrcweb .org /2-quality-concepts/) Thus, these academic standards are subject to a quality assurance process (locally by Pacucoa for non-sectarian private universities) to obtain confirmation that the university meets the requirements of the established standards .

Quality assurance requirements. What does “requirement” mean? A requirement is “a need, expectation or obligation”. Quality assurance bodies specify the types of standard requirements expected of a university set by regulatory bodies. (https://qcmr-1.itrcweb.org/2-quality-concepts/) These requirements are obligations of a university which, taken together, ensure that the objectives (mission and vision) and objectives of a university are achieved effectively and efficiently. Thus, when a university undergoes a quality assurance process called accreditation, it undergoes an assessment of its philosophy, mission and goals, faculty qualifications, relevance and timeliness. content and design of academic programs, effectiveness of teaching, fitness for the purpose of the library, activities and research results and internationalization activities, strength of services to students, community/civic engagement, and institutional administration and management. All of these areas must meet established standards.

Quality education. A quality education reflects similar characteristics that should exist in institutions known to provide high quality education. The manuals of quality assurance organizations place a high value, among the areas of concern, on academics. They are expected to have high visibility in their recruiting communities and beyond for their fellowship, where research is a major activity in addition to their teaching assignment, although some are research-only. Such a body of scholars provides a university with “an environment that fosters competitiveness, creative thinking, innovation”, and would be viewed by its audiences as an institution offering a high quality education. It guarantees “a learning environment that encourages work on innovative projects to promote holistic personality development to train future leaders”. (https://yourstory.com/mystory/1aeedac611-essential-characterist/amp)

In summary: academic quality, assurance and improvement. A university’s strong support mechanisms for student learning altogether constitute the high academic quality of the university. A top university periodically undergoes quality assurance to confirm that it meets a set of standards set forth by the appropriate regulatory bodies and yields positive results. A top university continues to improve its processes and programs by “continually reflecting on current standards and practices with the aim of “improving the quality of [its] higher education provision and the educational experience of students.” (https://www.quality.org/what-quality)

Teresita Tanhueco-Tumapon, PhD, one of the Philippines’ most accomplished educators and experts in the management of higher education institutions, studied at top universities in the Philippines and in Germany, Britain and Japan. She has held senior academic positions at Xavier University, Ateneo de Cagayan; was appointed by the president after the 1986 EDSA to standardize campus operations at state institutions and served 17 years later as president of SUC. She is the director of the internationalization office and a lecturer at Liceo University in Cagayan. Awards include the CHEd Lifetime Professional Achievement Award, the British Council Valuable Services Recognition Award, the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, and the Ministry of Education Award for his initiatives as a pioneer member of the Philippine Teacher Education Council.

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