Theme 4: Strengthening Governance, Quality Assurance and Accreditation
- The objective of this theme is to promote substantive and procedural autonomy of universities, and to develop the quality assurance and accreditation system. Increased substantive autonomy will empower universities to take greater initiative and responsibility for the development of academic programs, research activities and community services. Under procedural autonomy universities will have greater administrative powers and responsibilities. A by-law on financial autonomy has been approved by the Cabinet. This enables universities, in principle, to generate and retain revenues from postgraduate degrees, research and consulting activities, and extension courses, to be used for university development. The development of the procedures and systems to implement this by-law, including training and capacity building of university leadership and management, and fiduciary staff, is an important part of this theme. The exercise of substantive autonomy would initially be pilot tested in about two-four universities and rolled out over time.
- For universities to exercise autonomy and be accountable, a clear long term vision must be implemented. To that end, universities will prepare and implement strategic institutional development plans (SPs) aimed at progressively increasing the quality and relevance of their degree programs, research outputs and community services, and utilizing feedback from external and internal quality assurance reviews. SPs will have to be consistent with the NHESP-II and present a realistic and sustainable financial framework. In parallel, universities will also develop Annual Progress Reports (APRs) which will monitor and report progress towards achieving SP targets, including remedial measures in case of deviations from the SP. Universities’ institutional development will be strengthened through a Mentors Program. Mentors would be drawn from among senior academics from foreign and Afghan universities who will support institutional development and the achievement of the goals and targets set in university development plans. Mentors will interact closely with the senior management of universities through regular visits.
- Under this theme, quality assurance and accreditation (QAA) will be expanded and strengthened to reflect international standards of rigor and utilization. At the national level, the Afghanistan Quality Assurance and Accreditation Directorate (QAAD) in the MoHE will be developed, including through membership of an international accreditation network such as the Asia Pacific Quality Assurance Network (APQN). This will help MoHE to benefit from international good practice. The QAAD would develop a cadre of QA reviewers trained to incorporate modern QA protocols and guidelines, and conduct a fresh cycle of external quality assurance for public universities and private HEIs. The capacity of the QAAD would also be enhanced to enable a clear, transparent and objective process for the licensing, quality assurance and accreditation of private HEIs. This is an urgent necessity due to the rapid growth of private HEIs of very variable quality.
- A comprehensive Internal Quality Assurance System will also be developed in public universities. This would involve: (a) setting up Internal Quality Assurance Units (IQAUs) in universities which lack such units; (b) developing IQAUs in universities which have embryonic units; (c) assisting universities to conceptualize, plan and conduct institutional self-assessments; (d) incorporate findings from QA reviews into the design and implementation of university institutional development plans; and (e) establish a process of continuous quality improvement of teaching and learning in universities. The IQAUs will play a key role in assisting the academics to assess and develop the quality of the novel OBE and SCL, and internet-based, teaching and learning methodologies.