The Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) is vested with the responsibility to foster quality enhancement across the higher education sector. In order to attain excellence in this sector, and in line with global trends and requirements, it is now essential that higher education institutions (HEIs) develop “fit-for-purpose” institutional processes in all the key functions of higher education management.
Recent global trends suggest that higher education has evolved into an increasingly regulated sector, characterised by enhanced public awareness, increased market competition, technological advances, increased private partnerships and internationalisation.
Professor Sid Nair, Executive Director of the TEC stated that “If Mauritius, wants to position itself as a knowledge hub in the region, the quality and standards of the higher education institutions operating in the Mauritian higher education sector will need constant realigning to these dynamic worldwide trends. To this end, HEIs need to develop capabilities that will enable them to grow, create new knowledge and achieve their institutional objectives.”
To this end, in April 2017, the TEC launched a series of workshops, covering a wide range of key and emerging areas of contemporary higher education. As at date, some 16 workshops have been organised by TEC and conducted by established high calibre international experts in the field. Prof Nair takes pride citing that over 2000 individual stakeholders, comprising heads of institutions, policy makers, academics, quality assurance professionals and researchers have attended the various workshops. A well-appreciated and much welcome side effect of these workshops has been the consolidation of the human and social capital across the higher education sector by generating inclusiveness, building trust and good relationships between the various stakeholders.
Thus, to further its objective, TEC has been inviting international resources persons on a regular basis to share their professional expertise and to shed new light on contemporary approaches of managing the different spheres of higher education. Academics and higher education leaders from public and private HEIs have been engaging with these experts with a view to discussing and learning from international best practices.
The higher education landscape in Mauritius has the distinctive advantage of hosting a variety of HEIs from various countries, each with its specificities and contextual approaches to higher education. Professor Nair went on to say, “The workshops organised by the TEC provide HEIs with an enabling platform to establish dialogue among stakeholders and to develop new skills, ideas, perspectives and collaboration”. As with all external quality assurance frameworks, the TEC expects HEIs to align their institutional practices with quality improvements in relation to the graduates and to the expectations of the public.
However, it is agreed that effective quality enhancement cannot happen overnight. One common characteristic of HEIs with a culture for sustainable quality assurance is their organisational capacity to remain relevant, responsive and resilient to the dynamics of the knowledge industry. For this purpose, experts in the field highlight the importance to strengthen organisational capacities in four key areas, namely leadership capacity, management capacity, technical capacity and adaptive capacity.
By encouraging interactions among the HEIs operating in the system TEC endeavours to instil and improve the organisational capacities of institutions by addressing the common core areas of higher education. These essential areas are the fundamentals of all higher education systems and cut across all the different layers of the sector. Furthermore, the workshops have also been particularly useful in building confidence in HEIs, by enhancing the technical capacities of participants on a wide range of thematic topics, with themes pertaining to areas such as quality assurance, action planning, outcome based teaching and learning, quality audits, student experience, internationalisation, research management, publication strategies and higher education leadership.
Participants at a recent workshop expressed themselves on the workshop initiative of the TEC, which they believe will bring new impetus to the Mauritian higher education sector. Mr V Patten, Team Leader, Quality Assurance at the Open University was of the view that:
“The themes discussed were very pertinent and OU representatives were very receptive to the new ideas and insights of the exposés and discussions especially when delivered by knowledgeable and experienced resource persons”.
Dr Dhananjay Keskar, Director of the Amity Institute of Higher Education added that “The Workshops organised by the TEC have touched on innovative methods, approaches and processes which have direct relevance to the quality of tertiary education. The workshops have given a boost to the capability and capacity of individual faculty members as well as institutions”.
Mr. Kiran Bhujun, Officer in Charge of the University of Technology Mauritius and Director (Tertiary Education and Scientific Education) Ministry of Education, Human Resources and Scientific Research added: “TEC workshops have allowed the Mauritian Higher Education stakeholders a glimpse of the state of the sector on the internal scene, and have paved the way for critical thinking on how and the extent we should all improve to reach the required level so that Mauritius becomes an Education hub in the region”
Quality is thus pivotal to our vision of the knowledge hub. Professor Nair reiterated that “Such workshops facilitated by international experts help develop skill sets that are critical for us to evaluate what we are doing and if it is done well. This in turn will help to support the missions and visions of the institutions resulting in a more inclusive and sustainable approach to quality assurance”.
By Professor Sid Nair Executive Director TEC
- Cet article est publié dans le cadre d’une collaboration entre le Défi Media Group et la Tertiary Education Commission.