(MENAFN Press) The British Council's UAE Delegation Returns from UK Study Tour
29 March, 2012 (Dubai, United Arab Emirates): Delegates from the Commission for Academic Accreditation (CAA), the National Qualification Authority (NQA) and three federal universities have returned to the UAE, having spent five days in the UK earlier this month as part of a focus on quality assurance (QA) and qualification framework (QF) in the higher and further education sectors in the country.
Supported by the British Council, the CAA sent commissioners and university officials to London to allow the delegates to experience the QA system in practice in universities in the UK. The trip allowed the delegates to gain a deeper understanding into the relationship between QA and QF, bringing lessons back to the UAE that will assist them in planning and implementing their own programmes.
"The study tour was designed in collaboration with the CAA, NQA, and several federal universities in the UAE, to enable delegates to experience at first-hand the quality assurance policies and processes in the UK “ from both the perspectives of the bodies responsible for upholding the quality and standards in UK universities and colleges, and the universities and colleges themselves," said Kate Owen, the British Council UAE.
"The higher education sector in the UAE is rapidly developing and maturing into a well-established sector, and this valuable insight into how universities develop and implement strict QA and QF protocols in the UK will assist the UAE delegates to further strengthen their knowledge base in the country, leading to a stronger and more robust framework for higher education here," Owen added.
The participants of the tour comprised of representatives from the CAA certificate equivalency department, NQA, and three federal universities.
"The CAA is doing a great job in the UAE in accrediting programmes and licensing universities, but it always beneficial to look at other institutions' experiences in order to build upon the knowledge we have here," said Dr. Arif Sultan Al Hammadi, Executive Vice President of Khalifa University.
Reviewing the UK Quality Code for 2011 and 2012 allowed insight into the higher education expectations from each institution as well as from the public, which was useful for the group," Dr. Al Hammadi added.
"Without question, educators in the UAE can benefit from exposure to education systems in other parts of the world," said Dr. Thomas Armstrong, Commissioner at the CAA.
"It's common practice in the States, where teams of faculties from one institution are sent to another, to gain a comparative understanding of the systems and protocols in place. The British Council took this same concept and expanded in to an international level. The study tour allowed for excellent dialogue with the national qualifications authority in the UK, and gave us the opportunity to talk to specific institutions to learn from them how they're implementing QA, and shaping and reacting to the national body in the UK," Dr. Armstrong added.
In addition to visiting traditional universities in the UK as well as its Qualifications Authority, the delegates also visited the Open University to understand how this contemporary university runs its programmes, and assures the quality of its distance-led degrees.
"The tour was incredibly informative; learning about a different university system and the extent to which QA is implemented in the UK was so important. We need to have an in-depth knowledge of the British system and the way diplomas are issued there “ as well as their programmes, admission criteria and quality of education, and so on “ because our own system is quite young, and there is much to be gained from this understanding," said Dr Mohamed Al Zarooni, Dean of University General Requirements Unit, United Arab Emirates University.
This type of knowledge exchange is crucial, Dr Al Zarooni continued, as the global community continues to connect faster and longer, through the use of rapidly updated technologies.
"Making it easy to transfer from one country's education system to another is, I think, a very important goal, and this trip makes that goal possible," Dr. Al Zarooni added.
"The spirit with which the British Council approached this as an opportunity to expose UAE educators to how quality is determined in the UK is commendable. But even more importantly, the inclusion in the study team of individuals who directly work in QA and representatives from federal universities in itself was crucial “ it brought together a diverse group of professionals, all of whom are working to improve higher education in the UAE," concluded Dr. Armstrong.