Rabat - The British Council organised on 8-9 March 2016, at the headquarters of ISESCO in Rabat, an international conference on tertiary education on the topic of:
Rabat – The British Council organised on 8-9 March 2016, at the headquarters of ISESCO in Rabat, an international conference on tertiary education on the topic of:
Global Education Dialogue: North Africa
“Building a Culture of Quality: Nationally, Regionally and Globally”
In cooperation with the Ministry of Higher Education, Scientific Research and Training of the Kingdom of Morocco, the Moroccan British Society -MBS- and the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization -ISESCO-.
The conference was officially opened by:
- Jamila Mossali, Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Scientific Research and Executive Training of the Kingdom in Morocco;
- John Mitchell, Director of The British Council, Morocco;
- Amina Hajri, Deputy Director General of the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization -ISESCO-; and
- Abdelkarim Bennani, Vice President of the Moroccan British Society
The British Council invited participants from the United Kingdom, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Kenya representing public and private universities, government circles, organizations, institutions and representatives of the private sector.
Aim of the Conference
The conference aimed to discus at length some of the global experiences, best practices, challenges and solutions towards quality assurance in education and strived to achieve the following objectives:
- To exchange ideas around best practices in quality assurance in higher education with key experts from the region and UK with a particular focus on internal and external strategies for building quality culture;
- To inform new thinking around the policy and practice of quality assurance in higher education in North Africa;
- To consider strategies for setting and maintaining academic standards that are comparable to international best practices;
- To provide an opportunity for policy makers and academics in North Africa to take advantage of the experience of the UK in terms of quality assurance with insight into how policy around quality assurance in the UK impacts on the practice of quality at an institutional level;
- To promote the enhancement of quality to meet the expectations of students, employers and other stakeholders;
- To explore opportunities for delegates from North Africa to build relationships with UK colleagues, thereby encouraging the exchange of further knowledge and information between North Africa and the UK; and
- To develop new approaches to quality assurance in North Africa, in support of national higher education policy and emerging practice in universities in the region.
Building a Culture of Quality
The first day of the conference held under the theme:”Building a Culture of Quality” shed the light in the first plenary session on the British experience:
- “An introduction to the demand of quality in higher education” by Pr. Joy Carter, Vice Chancellor of Winchester University in the UK; and
- “The experience of the UK: building quality in a mature system”, by Dr Stephen Jackson, Associate Director of Quality Assurance Agency – QAA- of the UK.
The second plenary session by Pr. Laban P. Ayiro, Director of Quality Assurance at Moi University in Kenya entitled: “The experience of Kenya: building quality in a developing system”, highlighted the unique experience of Kenya in building quality in its tertiary educational system.
These plenary sessions shed light through the experience of the United Kingdom, as a pioneering system that has gained international recognition today and has built upon its significant expertise in the area of quality assurance, as well as the experience of Kenya, as a developing system strongly engaged in building a culture of quality assurance framework and highlighted the importance of ensuring quality education to arrive at quality outputs with graduates.
The first session of the workshops proposed an interactive framework to put into perspective quality in higher education through an overview of the history of higher education systems in the MENA region. It also addressed the challenges faced by its systems as well as their future prospects:
- “The challenges of higher education in the Maghreb region – some thoughts about quality in higher education”, by Mr. Martin Rose, Senior Consultant at the British Council and Pr. Wael Benjelloun, President of the Union of Mediterranean Universities.
- “The challenges of higher education in the Gulf”, by Dr. Tariq M Al-Sindi, General Director of QAA in Bahrain and Dr. Tariq Mahmood, Director of Science and Technology at ISESCO.
The second session of the workshops highlighted the experience of the Kingdom of Morocco, the host country for the conference, in the area of quality assurance, as well as the experience of the: “University Governance Screening Card”, a tool developed within the framework of the World Bank programme designed to analyse the governance of universities:
- “The Moroccan and Egyptian approach to building a culture of quality in higher education”, by Pr. Mohamed Tahiri, Director of Higher Education in Morocco and Pr. Sahar El Marsafy, Professor at Cairo Universty in Egypt.
- “Building a culture of quality at the institutional level – The experience of using the World Bank “University Governance Screening Card””, By Pr Najia Romdhane, Senior Counsellor at the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research in Tunisia, Pr Diane Naufall from the American University of Lebanon and Pr. Mohamed Miliani from the University of Oran in Algeria.
Quality at work: strategies, actors and situations
The second day of the conference kicked off with the third plenary session entitled:
- “What is research excellence and what is its impact in the institution? Assessing the quality of research in universities in the UK”, by Dr. Steven Hill, Head of the Research Policy of the Higher Education Funding Council for England -HEFCE- and Pr. Daniel Shah, Assistant Director Policy of the UK HE International Unit.
The session was devoted to quality and quality assurance in scientific research: what mechanisms can be useful to ensure quality in research activities? What criteria and standards will best support the development of research? What are the main recommendations that can be of help to build upon the experience of the United Kingdom in this area and what are the main standards at international level?
Bearing this in mind, the first workshop of the day focused on actions taken within universities in order to establish and maintain academic standards by answering the question: What strategies and action plans are implemented; how are these strategies being deployed in privately managed universities and in those that host a large number of students?
- “Strategies for setting and maintaining academic standards at private institutions”, by Pr. Inaam Khalaf from the Faculty of Nursing of the university of Jordan and Pr. Driss Ouaouicha, President of Al Akhawayn University of Morocco
- “Strategies for setting and maintaining academic standards at public institutions”, by Dr. Amal El Ouazzani, Vice President of Hassan II university in Morocco and Pr. Younhansen Eid, President of NAQAEE of Egypt.
The second workshop focused on the role of students and employers who are the major players for establishing, sustaining and developing quality assurance system in the UK and the MENA region.
- “Meeting the expectation of students – the case of Queen Margaret University, UK and Hassan I University, Morocco”, by Pr. Veronica Bamber, Director of the Centre for Academic Practice of Queen Margaret University of the UK and Pr. Ahmed Nejmeddine, President of Hassan I University of Morocco
- “Meeting the expectations of the employers”, by Pr. Mohamed Belal of CDC in Egypt and Mr. Mohamed Slassi, President of the Vocational Training Commission of CGEM of Morocco.
Prior to the official closure, The scientific programme of the conference ended up with a panel on the interesting topic of: “Internationalisation – how does it build quality?” in which took part a number of speakers, mainly: Pr. Abdellah Afifi, Director of Budget and General Affairs of the Ministry of Higher Education, Scientific Research and Executive Training of the Kingdom in Morocco, Dr. Maha Merzak, Head of ISESCO Centre for Promotion of Scientific Research and Dr. Tarek Tutunji, Dean of Development of Quality at Philadelphia University in Jordan.
A success story
The Global Education Dialogue conference of the British Council discussed at length some of the global experiences, best practice, challenges and solutions toward Quality Assurance in Education. This policy dialogue has and will further enhance the mutual benefit for the UK towards sharing best practice and learning from the international approaches to quality. This has and will enrich the conversation around common challenges, and how to build a culture of quality within institutions and agencies across the MENA region and The UK.
The conference provided a safe space for candid conversations in formal and informal settings, and a unique opportunity to identify and discuss common challenges and share ideas, insights and experiences that might help to overcome these obstacles and to bridge the gap across the international communities.
Thanks to the British Council and its partners: the Ministry of Higher Education, Scientific Research and Executive Training of the Kingdom of Morocco, the Moroccan British Society -MBS- and the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization -ISESCO-, the conference was a total success in that it has provided the participants with an opportunity for a genuine exchange of views and experience between the region and in the UK and the opportunity to understand the different perspectives and ideas of people from all the participating countries.
You can follow Mohamed Chtatou on Twitter @Ayurinu
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