Last March 13 to 17, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations University Network-Quality Assurance (AUN-QA) conducted an assessment of DLSU at the institutional level. The main preparations were led by DLSU’s Quality Assurance Office (QAO), with the help of various stakeholders such as administrators, fellows, faculty, researchers, personnel, alumni, brothers, students, and partners.
The assessors examined the different aspects of DLSU such as the vision and mission, key result areas, strategies, governance, quality assurance systems, core functions of teaching, research, services, and outcomes of the University’s current efforts. The formal results of the assessment will be released in two months.
What is the AUN-QA?
The AUN-QA is a group of Chief Quality Officers appointed by AUN member universities, which DLSU is a part of. The group aims to uphold the mission of “harmonizing educational standards” and “seeking continuous improvement of academic quality” of ASEAN universities. To accomplish this, they make use of a quality assurance system for maintaining, improving, and enhancing teaching, research, and overall academic standards of AUN member universities.
At the moment, the AUN-QA conducts assessments at the program level and institutional level. The assessment at program level focuses on the quality of educational activities in terms of inputs, processes, and outputs. On the other hand, the assessment at institutional level is designed as a holistic framework, which encompasses a university’s strategic, systemic, and functional quality assurance.
Undergoing the assessment
Since 2008, the AUN-QA has conducted program level assessments in DLSU, particularly on the following programs: Economics, Chemical Engineering, Psychology, Literature, Chemistry, Physics, Software Technology, Statistics, Mathematics, International Studies, Civil Engineering, Biology, Accountancy, Applied Corporate Management, and Entrepreneurship. According to DLSU QAO Director Dr. Gerardo Largoza, the AUN-QA assessment at institutional level was implemented just last year.
“I think they first have to teach potential candidates what would be expected of the process, how it would go, and what the criteria are, [among several others]. I and a couple of other colleagues who helped write the report spent about a week and a month getting to understand the criteria in more depth and getting a stronger sense of what would be required of us,” Largoza explains.
The assessment was based on the AUN-QA Framework for Institutional Level, which consists of 25 criteria. Among some of these include vision, mission, culture, governance, leadership and management, strategic management, human resources management, and external relations and networks. The University was rated on these criteria on a scale of one to seven, signifying “absolutely inadequate to excellent.”
Following the standards set by the 25 criteria and application requirements, Largoza and his team created a comprehensive report that was submitted to the AUN-QA.
After evaluating the report, the AUN-QA assessors then conducted the actual assessment last March 13 to 17 to validate the report submitted by DLSU. Largoza emphasizes, “This is not just in AUN; any university that goes into accreditation or ISO follows a similar process. They try to make sense of whether there’s any correspondence between what you claimed and actually answered. That week was spent essentially interviewing everyone [in the University].”
For instance, the assessors interviewed 20 to 30 undergraduate and graduate students from different colleges and year levels. Dr. Largoza shares that his team relied on the various departments to send students who they thought were “good representatives of the programs” and that they don’t necessarily have to be achievers. “We wanted fairer representation of people,” he adds.
Dr. Largoza details that for the University to further improve its performance in the assessments, “a lot of it will depend on the momentum that we can continue with.” He summarizes the recommendations of the assessors as that of “internationalizing DLSU and setting its horizons beyond the Philippines.”
“We’re not a Philippine University anymore. We have the capacity to become an ASEAN presence, as a Lasallian University. [What the assessors gave us are] series of steps that if we [do] them seriously, we’ll have DLSU fully establish itself as a University of international standard,” he asserts.
To do this, Largoza highlights the importance of revamping the curriculum of DLSU to become at par with global standards. As of press time, one of the main curriculum initiatives is the development of the New Lasallian Core Curriculum, which is being led by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Academics.
“DLSU has an organizational culture that takes these kinds of improvements seriously. Sometimes we don’t proceed as quickly as we want to, but eventually it gets done. That’s the next big step—really taking seriously the international or ASEAN components with the things we do,” Largoza expresses.
In a help desk announcement last March 20, DLSU President Br. Raymundo Suplido FSC remarks on the assessment, stating, “The AUN-QA institutional assessment is a reflection of our commitment to push the boundaries of excellence and service by constantly exploring ways to improve ourselves and the institution, as well as working together in pursuit of our Lasallian Mission.”