Iraqi universities discussed their progress in the implementation of quality improvement measures during two consecutive workshops that the UNESCO Office for Iraq organized from 22 to 25 November 2015 in partnership with senior experts from the “Network of Iraqi Scientists Abroad” (NISA) forming the quality assurance review group.
The workshops that were held in Amman, Jordan, concluded with a final declaration and a set of recommendations related to the sustainability of the quality project outcomes mainly through a closer follow-up by the Ministries of Higher Education and Scientific Research (MoHESRs) of the Federal Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government of the continuation of the quality assurance processes initiated by UNESCO since 2011. Main recommendations include:
1. Keep up with the application of the quality improvement processes initiated by the review group in all colleges of engineering and engaging in peer-reviewing;
2. Encourage the colleges which were not part of UNESCO pilot project on quality improvement or those which are newly established, to join their peers among the pilot colleges of engineers that have completed the quality improvement cycle to ensure transfer of knowledge and experiences;
3. Motivate the pilot colleges of engineering to organize workshops and seminars on quality assurance and continuous quality improvement to foster the culture of quality and raise awareness about the urge for change through planning for quality improvement;
4. Raise awareness about the need to shift from the teacher-centred education (traditional) to outcome-based education which is rather student-centred and relies on a project/problem-based learning
The first workshop titled ‘Review of quality improvement plans of pilot colleges of engineering –phase-II’ (22 and 24 November) was attended by seven key MoHESRs officials in Baghdad and Erbil and 25 heads of departments and quality assurance directors from 12 universities.
The workshop was also attended by 11 out of 12 permanent members of the newly established council for accreditation for engineering, which has been formed along with 18 other councils per specialization, upon the Minister’s instruction in an effort to sustain the quality development endeavors launched by UNESCO and consistently supported by the MoHESRs.
The workshop was very interactive and participatory in nature, where the main objectives consisted of reviewing and assessing the QIPs of the 12 universities to ensure execution of QIPs and issue suggestions for improvements, taking into consideration the feedback and recommendations that were made earlier this year during a site visit to the universities.
Examples of successful QIP models implemented in Western universities and the role of QIP in overall performance improvement were showcased to the participants as well as success stories from some of the Iraqi colleges who completed their quality improvement cycle, such as University of Kufa, University of Mustansiriyah and University of Baghdad. More success stories are planned to be showcased during the Conference on “Quality Improvement for the Development of Higher Education” that will be organized in partnership with the MoHESR in 2016.
A second workshop titled ‘Assuring Continuous Improvement through Quality Improvement Planning’ was held on 25 November 2015. 13 additional heads and directors of quality assurance departments from Phase 1 of the pilot project joined the already attending participants.
The workshop evaluated and monitored the progress already made on implementing the QIPs in the universities of phase 1 over the past five years and raised awareness amongst higher education officials and staff members about the need for a national quality assurance and accreditation framework.