Assuring Quality of Academic Programmes among Heis in the Kingdom of Bahrain (Published)
The Directorate of Higher Education Reviews (DHR) is part of the National Authority of Qualification and Quality Assurance for Education and Training (QQA) that was officially established in the Kingdom of Bahrain in 2008. Its primary objective is to enhance the quality of higher education in the Kingdom by conducting reviews into the quality assurance arrangements of higher education institutions (HEIs) and identifying areas in need of improvement. Other than institutional reviews, DHR conducts programme reviews which are a specialized exercise that focuses on the quality assurance arrangements within existing learning programmes within a college, and evaluates whether such programmes meet international standards as well as make recommendations for improving them. Cycle 1 of DHR programme reviews started in 2009 where programmes were reviewed one after another. In 2012, Programmes-within-College Reviews was introduced which has since been referred to as Cycle 2. Under this cycle, all programmes offered within a college are reviewed simultaneously. Reviews are carried out using four Indicators each of which has a number of sub-indicators and which are in line with international good practice. The Review Reports, developed as a result of the reviews, contain judgements about whether or not each of the programmes meets the requirements of each indicator as well as make recommendations for the enhancement of the programmes. This paper looks into the performance of HEIs in terms of their academic programmes vis-à-vis the review reports: foremost, by looking into the number of programmes which have received satisfactory judgement by DHR; secondly, by analyzing the HEIs’ performance in terms of review judgments (‘Confidence’, ‘Limited Confidence’, or ‘No Confidence’) against the number of reviewed programmes as well as the number of programme offerings; and finally, by looking into their capacity-building requirements, offering a thorough analysis of their quality assurance needs. Based on DHR Programmes-within-College Review reports, to date there are 40 academic programmes among the 11 HEIs in the Kingdom of Bahrain which have been given ‘Confidence’ judgment. It is significant to note that such figure translates to only 69.44% performance on the part of the HEIs considering the total number of programmes which have been reviewed so far. It is likewise interesting to note that the 40 ‘Confidence’ programmes constitute 37.36% only of the total number of programmes offered by the institutions. Furthermore, looking more closely into the review reports, it could be concluded that the HEIs need to pay closer attention to Indicators 2 and 3, which are Efficiency of the Programme and Academic Standards of the Graduates, respectively; though careful consideration should be given to the two other indicators as well, particularly The Learning Programme and Effectiveness of Quality Management & Assurance, inasmuch as the HEIs have neither demonstrated excellent performance at these criteria.
Keywords: Academic Standards of the Graduates, Efficiency of the Programme, Limited Confidence, No Confidence, and Effectiveness of Quality Management & Assurance, confidence, the Learning Programme