Agreement to further align national quality assurance systems with global best practices in higher education
DUBAI, UAE, 19 November 2017: The UAE Ministry of Education announced the signing of an agreement with the UK’s Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA), demonstrating its ongoing commitment to quality assurance of higher education institutions in the UAE. This comes as part of the Ministry’s support of initiatives which bolster the development of the nation, and in line with the national visions 2021 and Centennial vision 2071.
Dr. Mohammed Al-Mualla, the Ministry of Education’s Undersecretary for Academic Affairs of Higher Education, and, the QAA’s Chief Executive Douglas Blackstock signed an agreement at the Ministry of Education, in the presence of His Excellency Dr.Ahmad Belhoul, Minister of State for Higher Education and Advanced Skills, and His Excellency Paul Fox, HM British Consul General in Dubai.
“The UAE’s higher education sector has evolved significantly over the past three decades, since the establishment of the first public university in 1976 and, later the establishment of the first private university in 1988. Private universities today account for over 60% of the capacity of higher education in the UAE. Institutions in the UAE have recently started to appear in international rankings amongst the world’s top universities. In our pursuit of excellence and the country’s transition to a knowledge-based economy, we launched the National Higher Education Strategy in September of this year, which focuses on quality, innovation, relevance and efficiency as key pillars in driving forward higher education.” said His Excellency Dr. Ahmad Belhoul, Minister of State for Higher Education and Advanced Skills. “Quality assurance is integral to the success of any higher education system and through this partnership with the QAA, we are aligning our quality assurance system with the best international practices and developments in higher education, to ensure that our students receive world-class standards of education.”
Paul Fox, British Consul General in Dubai, reinforced the strengthening of UAE-UK ties through this agreement, saying “The UAE and the UK share very close links in education. We are proud that a UK agency will help support UAE’s aim to be a knowledge-based economy and ensure that the educational offer is of a high quality.”
Dr. Mohammed Al-Mualla, the Ministry of Education’s Undersecretary for Academic Affairs of Higher Education added, “The UAE was the first in the region to establish a Commission for Academic Accreditation in 2000. Over the past 17 years, we successfully developed and implemented our standards for licensing institutions and accrediting programs of higher education. The UAE’s commission for academic accreditation is recognized by the International Network for Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education (INQAAHE). The agreement with QAA will benchmark our standards against international best practices, account for new and future developments globally in higher education, and ensure that we have a unified and consistent quality assurance program throughout the UAE.”
Douglas Blackstock, Chief Executive of QAA said: “QAA has a world class reputation in higher education quality assurance. We are going to bring 20 years’ experience of assuring the quality and standards of UK higher education to collaborate with the Ministry and design a system that works for the UAE, now and in the future. It's a privilege to be selected by the Ministry as UAE’s partner of choice, and we look forward to working with the Ministry and higher education institutions to support this important work.”
As part of the year-long agreement, QAA will collaborate with the Ministry of Education to oversee the revision of institutional licensure and program accreditation, introduce a new system for dealing with complaints, and offer trainings on quality assurance to align with global standards.
The agreement builds on the UK and UAE’s Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2013 and His Excellency’s Dr.Ahmad Belhoul's visit to the UK in October 2016 during which time he met with the QAA to explore areas of collaboration. The agreement comes on the back of the Annual Meeting of the UAE Government, in which it was agreed to develop a Unified National Quality Assurance System, covering institutional licensure, program accreditation, institution and program classifications, and quality reviews and compliance audits.