Update: Quality assurance audit supports continuous improvement, student success at NC

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Niagara College is near completion of the self-study portion of a provincial quality assurance audit that will evaluate and ultimately enhance the college’s quality assurance processes.

Formerly known as the Program Quality Assurance Process Audit, the College Quality Assurance Audit Process (CQAAP) is a cyclical review of the quality assurances processes at colleges in Ontario. Colleges complete the audits on a five-year cycle, and CQAAP is overseen by the Ontario College Quality Assurance Service (OCQAS), an arms-length body connecting the colleges with the provincial Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training.

“Quality assurance is embedded across all of our programs and services, and it represents our strong commitment to student success,” said Mary Wilson, director of Academic Excellence. “The CQAAP is an important opportunity for us to identify and share what we’re doing well while finding areas where we can improve or enhance our quality assurance and quality improvement processes.”

NC’s process began last summer with the selection of seven NC programs that will be reviewed through the audit, including Graphic Design; Educational Assistant – Special Needs Support; Art and Design Fundamentals; Tourism Management – Business Development; Artisan Distilling; International Business Management; and Geographic Information – Geospatial Management (GIS).

The initial draft of the self-study portion of the project is nearing completion, and will ultimately be submitted for review in March. Through the self study, we demonstrate our ability to meet or exceed the 32 quality assurance requirements.  Auditors will visit the college in May and an audit report will be submitted in August.

For Niagara College, the CQAAP is among the important tools that support a culture of continuous improvement. The 2012 audit, which found that Niagara College met all required quality assurance criteria, also included commendations for several NC initiatives, including the use of educational developers, the learning enterprise model, the sustainability plan, the use of mapping tools to connect course evaluations and course outcomes, and more. The results of the last audit also inspired the development of new initiatives, including the creation of the co-curricular record, an enhanced academic quality unit, and plans for the learning commons and integrated student services.

Preparation of the self study and site visit is being coordinated by the Centre for Academic Excellence and overseen by a project team that includes administration, faculty and staff representatives from across the college, as well as students and external representatives. NC’s CQAAP project plan along with brief informational videos are available online. Learn more about CQAAP on the OCQAS website.

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