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Accreditation and Quality Assurance in Malaysian Education System

Accreditation and quality assurance of education in Malaysia is chiefly carried out through the Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Education, Malaysia.  There is also a quality assurance regulatory organisation in place for monitoring the quality of education in the country.

Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Education: The divisions under the Department of Higher Education provide services in their concerned areas for improving the quality of education and the courses offered. This department ensures that public as well as private higher educational institutions in Malaysia provide education which is of the highest quality and best international standards. 

Quality assurance and accreditation in Malaysian higher education
The department plans, implements, monitors and evaluates policies as well as programmes and activities for development of excellence in higher educational institutions. The department also ensures that higher educational institutions have facilities which are conducive and comparable to global standards. HEI Centres of Excellence or HICoE are also in place for the planning and coordination of higher educational institutions. The department also checks on the acts or legislation in place to determine higher education standards. For planning as well as coordinating policies, the department has established a network between the private sector and the government.

The department also plans, develops, monitors and supervises academic programmes for meeting the demands of the job market and achieving global recognition.   

Department of Community College Education/JPKK: This is the department which aims to oversee the quality of education in 72 community colleges located all over Malaysia. 

Malaysian Qualifications Agency

LAN: Important acts in the field of quality assurance include the LAN or National Accreditation Board Act. This act establishes the quality assurance body, the National Council on Higher Education Act for providing policies towards higher education development. The Lembaga Akreditasi Negara, LAN was established to assure the quality of courses and qualifications offered by private higher education providers. Standards and criteria for conferment of award and accredited courses was also established by this body. Quality assurance was monitored through QAD or  the Quality Assurance Division. 

LAN QAD Merger: LAN was merged with QAD on 21st December 2005 by the government. With this, quality assurance of higher education for public as well as private sectors were merged together. The Malaysian Qualifications Agency was born on November 1st, 2007 with the enforcement of the Malaysian Qualifications Agency Act 2007. Therefore, quality assurance moved from LAN to MQA.

MQA: MQA aims to be a single, unified transparent private and public assurance body. It is also responsible for the implementation oft he national qualifications framework for ensuring good quality of education. MQA also has a reliable information centre pertaining to accredited programmes and qualifications. The main role of MQA is the implementation of the MQF or Malaysian Qualifications framework. This framework aims at creating standards and criteria to serve as national references and assure the quality of higher educational institutions.

MQA is also concerned with accreditation of courses and recognition of qualifications. Apart from this, it also maintains the Malaysian Qualifications Register. MQA is a statutory body under the Ministry of Education.

MQA Committees: MQA has appointed committees for various functions namely the Accreditation Committee, Equivalency Committee, Institutional Audit Committee, and the Standard Committee. 

Accreditation Committee: this committee is concerned with decisions pertaining to programme accreditation. The committee is independent of the councils and there are experts constituting 5 subtypes of this committee namely Science, medicine and allied health, Engineering and built environment, Information technology and multi-media, Social sciences and Arts and humanities. 

Accreditation of Professional Courses in Malaysia

Accreditation and quality assurance in Malaysian education system
MQA Act: As per the MQA Act, the accreditation of higher educational institutions which teach professional courses is done by or in close association with professional organisations. These organisations have been constituted by the Parliament to regulate professions through licensing of practitioners. These organisations work with the MQA through a joint technical committee. Professional courses such as medicine, pharmacy, architecture, engineering and others receive accreditation through this method in Malaysia. Accreditation also means that courses have received recognition from professional organisations. 

Key Processes for Accreditation: MQA follows two key processes for accreditation namely provisional accreditation as well as accreditation. Provisional accreditation was the initial process through which higher education institutions receive accreditation for enhancing their standards. Formal accreditation refers to formal recognition that certificates, diplomas and degrees awarded by higher education are in accordance with established standards. Self accreditation status is also given to higher educational institutions as per the MQA Act 2007. This status is only given to those institutions which have a good internal quality assurance mechanism. Higher educational institutions need to undergo institutional audit for registration in the MQR or Malaysian Qualifications Register. 

Quality Assurance in Malaysian Education

MQF: MQF, the Codes Of Practice For Programme Accreditation and Institutional Audit, Programme Discipline Standards and Guidelines to Good Practices determine the process of quality assurance in Malaysian educational institutions. This framework commenced under the National Accreditation Board/LAN and is now determined by the MQF. Malaysian Qualifications Framework developed a set of criteria that is approved nationally and benchmarked under global best practices. National qualifications are integrated and linked through the MQF. 

MQF Levels: MQF comprises 8 levels of qualifications in 3 national higher education sectors namely Skills, Vocational and Technical as well as Higher Education. Levels 1 to 3 are Skills Certificates given by the Skill Sectors. Higher Education and Vocational as well as Technical Certificates are at Level 3. Level 4 and 5 comprises Diplomas and Advanced Diplomas. Level 6 is for Bachelor’s Degrees, Level 7 is for Master’s Degrees and Doctoral Degrees are pegged at Level 8. 

The levels are based on learning outcomes as well as student learning time and credit hours. 

Learning outcomes are based on eight domains namely knowledge, practical skills, social skills and responsibilities, values, attitudes and professionalism, communication, leadership and team skills, problem solving and scientific skills, information management and lifelong learning skills, and managerial and entrepreneurial skills.

MQA has also developed Codes of Practice for Programme Accreditation/COPPA and Codes of Practice for Institutional Audit/COPIA. The codes of practice have received benchmarking against global good practices and accepted on a national basis by stakeholders. 

Codes of Practice: The Codes of Practice provide guidelines on general requirements in the following areas, vision, mission and learning outcomes, curriculum design and delivery, student selection and support services, assessment of students, academic staff, educational resources, programme monitoring and review, leadership, governance and administration and continual quality improvement.

Malaysian Qualifications Register: This is maintained by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency and it is concerned with the registration of accredited qualifications and programmes. This is reference point for credit transfer between accredited courses and qualifications. This qualifications register plans an important role in facilitation and recognition of accredited qualification on local as well as regional basis. 

Conclusion

Quality assurance and accreditation in higher education across Malaysia is a carefully regulated process. There are different procedures based on whether the course which has to receive accreditation is an academic or professional one.  
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