The University of Nairobi Directorate of Quality Assurance is the latest addition to the many service departments in the university. The functions of the directorate are stated, inter alia, as development and implementation of Quality Assurance Policy and Procedures for monitoring the programme quality and that of delivery processes, and synthesis of topical Quality Assurance matters in higher education. As a sub-system of the University of Nairobi system, the focus point for the directorate is the University’s vision, which is:
A world-class university committed to scholarly excellence
Our work at the directorate must start by unbundling our University’s vision so that we can ensure the functions of the directorate are performed in such a way as to help move the University of Nairobi system towards the common aim as expressed in the vision. This means setting out indicators of a world-class and scholarly excellence and selecting the techniques and tools to help move the university towards the status in terms of these indicators.
We are a world-class if we develop a reputation for offering superior customer value in the higher education services we offer, can demonstrate leadership in the higher education sector, and continuously develop solutions for the knowledge market ahead of our competitors. Superior customer value, sector leadership, continuous development of solutions to the knowledge market has been made integral part of The University of Nairobi Strategic Plan 2013 – 2018. This demonstrates awareness of “the need to improve”. We at Directorate of Quality Assurance, see our role as bringing in awareness of “the means to improve”.
We perform this role by selecting and integrating specialized quality tools that help identify the customer groups, their requirements and how a balance can be achieved in meeting the conflicting requirements. Identifying the customer groups, their needs and the input quality of knowledge carriers in higher education is a topical quality issue globally. In doing this, we must take into account the multi-layer customer group context of Higher Education. In this context, the student is both a customer and the product which the university offers to its outer layer customer groups - the industry, the society and employers in general. The University must develop a reputation for offering superior customer value among these multi-layered customer groups that comprise the students, professional associations, employers, government, society and the community.
The students require an effective curriculum in which right things are specified, and focused to the right knowledge, skills and competence. They also require effective learning, flexible learning schedules, responsiveness in related services and affordable cost. But they are brought into the learning process when they already know some things. These are represented by the varied entry levels, and entry pathways. Their aspirations, personal characteristics and the manner the programme is delivered are also influencers of the quality of output.
Professional associations and employers require that the outcome of the learning processs should be knowledge content related to the applicable body of knowledge in the specific field, and specific skills and professional proficiency. Other institutions of Higher Learning require strong academic foundations that are compatible with higher education, while the government, society, tax payers and the community require value for money for the fundings and budgetary allocations.
The directorate has deployed a Value – Tree technique to decompose each programme into its stakeholder contact activities that impact the value to these stakeholders. To integrate these stakeholder needs and priorities into academic programme design processes, a Quality Function Deployment technique has been selected so as provide thematic heads with data for fact-based decision making when developing new programmes or reviewing existing ones. A competitive benchmarking matrix is developed to make benchmarking more fact-based and the norm rather than a programme of activities only done occassionally.
These upstream quality activities are part of the University of Nairobi move toward developing a reputation for superior customer value in the higher education services we offer. But demonstrating leadership in the higher education sector requires that focus must equally be on processes of delivery. Acting on instructions from the University of Nairobi Management, the directorate of Quality Assurance has deployed Statistical Process Control technique, a specialized quality tool for monitoring processes so as to be able determine the ability of the process to achieve its requirements. with this tool, the teaching and learning process owner determines action requirements based on facts.
With these specialized tools, Quality Assurance unit intends to play its part in contributing to the University of Nairobi’s performance of its mandate as set out in its Charter 2013 and to march towards its vision of “A world-class university committed to scholarly excellence”.