NC’s Program Quality Assurance Process Audit (PQAPA) is well underway, with the self-study complete, and the provincial auditors scheduled to arrive in late March.
PQAPA is a provincially-mandated review of each college’s program quality assurance processes. Colleges undergo the audit once every five years, and this year a PQAPA takes place at Niagara College. The PQAPA is part of an ongoing cycle of continuous improvement. It includes a self-study, followed by a visit from provincial auditors. The auditors produce a report that identifies areas of strength and opportunities for improvement.
Niagara College’s self-study was formulated by a working group from across the college – a committee that includes staff and faculty representatives from all divisions, as well as student representatives. The self-study is now complete, and measures our internal quality assurance processes using six criteria against which we compare our college-wide systems. The criteria include:
· program learning outcomes
· communication of information to students
· program structure that conforms to provincial policy
· program delivery and evaluation methods
· human, physical, financial and support resources
· regular program quality assessment involving stakeholders, and focused on continuous improvement.
The self-study also highlights changes and improvements the college has implemented since the last PQAPA in 2007, as well as areas for continuous improvement.
“We believe our self-study process confirms that we have effective quality assurance processes at Niagara College, and that we meet or exceed all six criteria,” said acting Vice President Academic Sean Kennedy. “The self study also confirms our ongoing commitment to continuous improvement.”
The committee has also been busy on the communications front, ensuring staff and students are aware of the many ways that Niagara College ensures the quality of its programs and services. Information campaigns are underway to raise the profile of quality assurance at Niagara College, and the important role it plays in student success.
“Quality assurance is a key priority at Niagara College, and we have a comprehensive set of processes in place that ensure our programs and services meet or exceed system-wide standards,” said Kennedy. “Quality assurance is how we make sure our students succeed.”
Examples of quality assurance at Niagara College can range from academic practices such as program standards and accreditation to templates and documents such as program manuals,course outlines, and teaching and learning plans. It includes the methods we use to communicate learning outcomes and course information to students, and the tools we employ to ensure our curricula are current, relevant and meet provincial standards.
Next steps for the PQAPA will include a visit from an external panel March 21-23. The provincial auditors will meet with the College’s executive and management teams, its PQAPA Committee and with focus groups of staff, faculty students, and Program Advisory Committee members.