By A Staff Reporter - MUSCAT — The Oman Academic Accreditation Authority (OAAA) (formerly the Oman Accreditation Council) has published the Quality Audit Report of the Ibra College of Technology (ICT) on OAAA website (www.oac.gov.om) yesterday. This is the 9th Quality Audit Report to be published. Quality Audit is the first stage in Oman’s cyclical two-stage process for institutional accreditation. The purpose of Quality Audit is to provide both a level of assurance to the public and constructive feedback to the Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) for the purpose of ongoing improvement.
The process began with the ICT undertaking a self-study covering nine key areas of their activities, including areas such as governance and management; Student Learning by Coursework Programs; Academic Support Services and Student Support Services. This self-study resulted in the production of a portfolio which was submitted in December 2008.
To conduct the audit a review panel of eminent experts was convened, selected from the OAAA’s register of approved local and international external reviewers. The panel was chaired by Prof P Mani Joseph from Modern College of Business and Science, and included Dr Nasser al Mawali from Sultan Qaboos University; Prof Clive Neal-Sturgess from University of Birmingham, UK; Dr Lejla Vrazalic from Middlesex University Dubai; and Dr Anne Martin, Higher Education Consultant from Australia. The Executive Officer for the audit was Tess Goodliffe.
Prior to visiting ICT, the panel met formally to report on their preliminary findings following examination of the portfolio and supporting materials submitted by ICT. The audit visit took place over May 30 — June 1, 2009 during which time the panel spoke with approximately 120 people, including governing authorities and management, staff, students and external stakeholders. They also visited a selection of venues and considered a range of additional materials.
The Audit Report contains a summary of the panel’s findings, together with formal commendations where good practices have been confirmed, Affirmations where ICT’s ongoing quality improvement efforts merit support, and recommendations where there are significant opportunities for improvement not yet being adequately addressed. The report aims to provide a balanced set of observations, but does not comment on every issue or system in place at ICT. Before being made public, a copy of the report was sent to ICT for their feedback.
ICT is expected to utilise the feedback in the Audit Report as part of its continuous efforts to provide the best possible education to students. Audit reports are also of potential interest to students and potential students, their families, employers, government, other higher education institutions in Oman and abroad and other audiences. However, prospective students should still undertake their own investigations when deciding which higher education institution will best serve their particular learning needs.
A Quality Audit does not result in a pass or fail; nor does it provide any sort of grade or score. The OAAA emphasises that the precise number of commendations, affirmations and recommendations that an institution receives in its Audit Report is not as important as the substance of those conclusions.
It is neither significant nor appropriate to compare the Audit Reports of different higher education institutions solely on the numbers of commendations, affirmations and/or recommendations.
The first cycle of Quality Audits will run from 2008 – 2013 according to a national institutional review schedule published on the OAAA website. Quality Audits of nineteen HEIs across the Sultanate are currently in progress with a number of reports nearing the date of public release.
The next stage in the institutional accreditation process will be Standards Assessment. This will involve HEIs carrying out a self-assessment against externally set standards of performance and will lead to institutional accreditation.
The Oman Academic Accreditation Authority (OAAA), established by Royal Decree No 54/2010, is Oman’s national body responsible for the external quality assurance and quality enhancement of all public and private sector Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and programmes in Oman.