Following last year’s assessment of four of De La Salle University’s (DLSU) undergraduate programs, the BS Biology and BS Accountancy programs underwent the 33rd ASEAN University Network Quality Assessment (AUN-QA) at Programme Level last November 10 to 12.
The two departments have been preparing for their respective accreditations since the start of the academic year. Paperwork has been finalized, curricula have been reviewed, and both professors and students have been briefed about the accreditation process.
Background on the AUN-QA
The AUN was formed back in 1995 and consists of 17 member universities from Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries. At present, the AUN now has 26 member universities. One of its initial goals was to develop a quality assurance system that can raise academic standards and enhance education, research, and service among its member universities. Between 2004 to 2006, guidelines for the AUN-QA were finalized and the start of assessing various academic programs in the institutional and program level began in 2007.
Since then, the AUN-QA has undergone improvement phases in terms of selecting qualified assessors, enhancing quality assurance in some ASEAN countries, and disseminating information within and outside ASEAN. Currently, the AUN-QA has created a website to reach out to universities, QA agencies and the general public. Past assessment results of different universities since 2007 are also available online.
Upon completion and passing of the AUN-QA in a specific program, institutions that qualified to receive a certification status can use the AUN-QA logo and certificates on their publicity materials, brochures, and websites. The certification status is limited to a validity period decided upon by the assessors.
Key takeaways from peers
International Quality Assurance Office Director Dr. Wyona Patalinghug explains, “Quality assurance is indeed a continual cycle of improvement. The AUN quality assessment has 15 major criteria. Each criterion has sub-criteria. The assessment looks at the strengths and areas for improvement in each of these criteria.
The criteria, according to the AUN-QA Manual, includes the evaluation of expected learning outcomes, program structure and content, teaching and learning strategy, academic staff quality, and student quality, among others.
A total of 12 programs at DLSU have undergone the assessment at Programme Level. These are the Chemical Engineering and Economics programs, which were the first to be assessed at DLSU in 2008; Chemistry, Literature, and Psychology, which were assessed in 2010; Applied Corporate Management, Physics, and Software Technology, which underwent the assessment in 2012; and finally the Civil Engineering, International Studies, and Mathematics programs underwent last year’s assessment.
With a maximum score of 7.0, the Civil Engineering, International Studies and Mathematics programs received ratings of 4.9, 5.0 and 4.5, respectively, in the 2013 assessment.
Former International Studies Department professor Aljames Untalan shares his department’s experience in last year’s assessment. According to the former professor who had an active role in making the assessment plausible for the department, he assessors comprehensively presented the program’s strengths and weaknesses. With this, the department now has a line-up of plans that could further develop its strengths and improve on its weaknesses. Among the efforts the International Studies Department has been pursuing are inviting stakeholders to participate in the redesigning of the International Studies curriculum and strengthening alumni networks of the professional student organizations.
Untalan shares that another aspect they have noted from the assessors is the need for greater student participation in the development of the program. “Our students need to be involved in the curriculum review. This is for them to feel that the department employs a learner-centered approach,” he tells, “The assessors raised that our students do not have any idea of what [Expected Lasallian Graduate Attributes] and [Expected Learning Outcomes] are.”
Meanwhile, the upcoming assessment of the BS Biology and BS Accountancy programs serves as a continuing effort of DLSU to become at par with international standards set by the AUN-QA.
The greater role of AUN
“An important objective of the AUN quality assessment is to improve the programs in the ASEAN region, to have the programs and their graduates known and recognized outside the individual countries, and promote student mobility,” furthers Patalinghug.
With this objective, the assessment is one way for universities to better facilitate student and faculty mobility in the upcoming 2015 ASEAN Integration. Side by side AUN’s quality assurance program are other activities such as the ASEAN Credit Transfer (ACT) program which eases the process of allowing students from one country to take up programs in universities in other countries which are also part of AUN.
Patalinghug concludes, “Our active participation and willingness to have our programs assessed by AUN show the commitment of DLSU towards the continual improvement of our programs to be at par with those in other countries.
If both the Biology and Accountancy programs successfully make it through their assessments, there will be a total of 14 AUN-accredited programs in the University.