National Commission on Academic Accreditation and Assessment
DECLARATION OF MISSION, VISION AND GOOD PRACTICE
The National Commission for Academic Accreditation and Assessment was established in 2004 with responsibility for determining standards and procedures for accreditation and quality assurance and accrediting postsecondary institutions and programs within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Commission is an independent authority, responsible to the Higher Council of Education. The Commission's objectives specified in its by law include a wide range of functions associated with support for improvements of the quality of postsecondary education in all fields of learning other than defense.
The Commission will be recognized within Saudi Arabia and internationally for the quality and effectiveness of its contributions to continuing improvement in the quality of postsecondary education in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
To encourage, support, and evaluate the quality assurance processes of postsecondary institutions and the programs they offer to ensure that
- the quality of student learning outcomes,
- the management and support services provided within institutions,
- the contributions to research and the communities served by postsecondary institutions,
are equal to high international standards.
The Commission is committed to carrying out this mission in cooperation with postsecondary institutions and in consultation with industries, community agencies and other stakeholders whose interests are affected by the quality of postsecondary education.
In keeping with its vision and this mission the Commission will:
- Establish standards for accreditation and quality assurance that are both consistent with international benchmarks and relevant to Saudi Arabian requirements.
- Follow processes that are consistent with international good practice in accreditation and quality assurance in postsecondary education.
- Provide assistance to institutions in evaluating their performance and planning for improvement, through consultations, training programs, publications, websites and other means;
- Make accreditation decisions that are objective, fair, accurate, rigorous and constructive;
- Develop databases of good practice and indicators of quality appropriate for all sectors of postsecondary education in Saudi Arabia;
- Cooperate with other accreditation and quality assurance agencies, and strive to provide leadership in quality assurance and accreditation in the region;
- Comply with The Guidelines of Good Practice of the International Network of Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education (www.inqaahe.org).
The Commission is committed to the following values which will be reflected in all of its activities.
- Excellence: The Commission will strive to achieve the highest possible quality in all of its activities and will actively promote excellence in postsecondary institutions. It will ensure that quality assurance and accreditation processes are carried out by well qualified and competent staff and representatives of the national and international higher education community.
- Independence: The Commission will act with total independence in developing processes and standards and making decisions, while working in cooperation with institutions and other agencies, and being accountable to the community through the Higher Council of Education.
- Transparency: The policies and processes followed by the Commission and the bases for its decisions will be open to public scrutiny.
- Impartiality: The Commission will be strictly fair and impartial in all of its dealings. It will treat all parties equally and exercise strict controls to prevent any real or apparent conflicts of interest.
- Integrity: The Commission will consistently follow high standards of ethical practice in all of its activities, including its internal processes, its interactions with institutions, quality reviewers, government agencies and private enterprises, its students and staff, and members of the wider community. It will establish processes to ensure that these high standards are maintained by its staff and by others who act on its behalf.
In keeping with these values the Commission makes the following declarations of good practice that will be followed in dealing with particular functions and relationships.
The Relationship Between the Commission and Post Secondary Institutions
The Commission respects the autonomy, identity and integrity of postsecondary institutions in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and recognizes that achievement of quality is primarily the responsibility of the institutions themselves. It will support them in achieving continuing quality improvement while verifying their achievement of generally accepted quality standards. To assist the institutions in their quality assurance and improvement activities, the Commission will:
- Adopt consultative processes in the development and revision of standards, processes and requirements for quality assurance and accreditation;
- Provide publications and training programs that will assist institution in maintaining and improving the quality of their programs and administrative and support functions:
- Respect and support the diversity of institutions in achieving their distinct mission and providing programs and services relevant to their communities:
Decision-Making on Accreditation
The Commission will carry out its evaluations through verification of an institution's self-studies and external reviews. These will consider both the institutions achievements in relation to its mission and objectives, and achievement of necessary standards based on international good practice. The Commission will be independent in its decision-making, will avoid conflicts of interest and external influence from third parties, and will ensure consistency in its judgments through such practical means as:
- Ensuring that Commission Board members, staff and independent reviews are not involved in reviews or decisions affecting their own institutions;
- Ensuring that judgments are based on valid evidence, striving for objectivity and avoidance of bias, and utilizing independent expert opinion based on relevant academic and professional considerations;
- Striving for transparency through by-laws, published standards and procedures, public information about accreditation decisions, and the provision of information dissemination programs for institutions and program managers;
- Drawing on highly qualified and experienced international experts, in combination with local reviewers to ensure both independence in judgments and achievement of international standards;
- Encouraging innovation and healthy competition among institutions;
- Respecting the confidentiality of the decision-making process; and
- Ensuring consistency in decision-making.
The Commission will use independent external review processes for verification of conclusions from self-studies and evaluations of performance. To ensure the validity and reliability of the external reviews, the Commission will:
- Appoint reviewers and review panels that have qualifications and experience that are adequate and appropriate for the institution or program being reviewed;
- Provide training and/or detailed briefing as appropriate on the particular expectations and requirements for the reviews undertaken;
- Ensure that conflicts of interest do not exist for reviewers through relationship with an institution or program being reviewed;
- Ensure that external review teams act independently when making judgments, conclusions or recommendations to the Commission.
The Commission recognizes its responsibility to the government, its stakeholders and the wider community for supporting and verifying the quality of postsecondary education in the Kingdom. Its policies, procedures and standards will be made generally available to the public through the provision of publications, website, press releases and a variety of public forums. To maintain open communication and its own accountability the Commission will:
- Make details of its standards and procedures widely available to the community as well as to institutions providing postsecondary education;
- Provide regular reports on its own activities to the Higher Council of Education and produce summary reports on its activities and the development of the national quality system for public information;
- Make reports on accreditation decisions available on its website;
- Arrange or participate in periodic national conferences, symposiums and other gatherings for information and consultation about issues associated with postsecondary quality assurance and accreditation within the Kingdom.
The NCAAA will provide clear and public documentation concerning standards, internal quality assurance processes, self-studies, external reviews and other matters related to quality assurance and accreditation, including criteria and procedures for decision-making and reporting:
In relation to standards, the documentation will:
- Specify requirements that are consistent with generally accepted international good practice and appropriate for the particular requirements of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia;
- Include requirements for different kinds of postsecondary education institutions and programs, and modes of educational delivery;
- Support processes for self-evaluation in internal quality assurance processes;
- Be subject to periodic modification in the light of experience and changing circumstances and requirements;
- Require attention to important issues relevant to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia while allowing reasonable flexibility in internal processes.
In relation to internal quality assurance processes the documentation will:
- Clearly indicate expectations for the administration and conduct of quality assurance processes in all parts of a postsecondary institution;
- Serve an educational function in improving general understanding of quality assurance processes and requirements;
- Provide templates and guidelines to assist institutions and program administrators in quality planning and reporting;
- Encourage integration of quality assurance procedures with general planning, teaching and administrative activities;
- Encourage widespread participation in quality assurance processes and development of a "quality culture";
- Include details of requirements for periodic self-studies prior to an external review.
In relation to external review processes the documentation will:
- Clearly define criteria and processes for selection and appointment of external reviewers;
- Specify processes and requirements for preparation for and support during a review by a post secondary institution;
- Describe clearly the expectations for external reviewers including their preparation, the processes to be followed during a review, and the criteria and requirements for their reports;
- Specify a code of practice to be followed in the conduct of a review including confidentiality of consultations, verification of an institution's interpretations of evidence and its conclusions, and the preparation and presentation of reports;
- Describe the procedure to be followed in verifying the factual accuracy of information reported on by review panels and the publication of reports.
In relation to decision-making by the Commission , the documentation will:
- Articulate a process of decision-making based on the basis of published standards, policies and procedures using information available and made known to the institution/program;
- Set out processes and criteria to ensure avoidance of conflicts of interest;
- Describe procedures to be followed to ensure consistency of decisions;
- Establish timelines that ensure the prompt written notification of decisions on accreditation of institutions/programs of the accreditation decision, giving reasons for its action;
- Explain the mechanism through which reports will be made publicly available;
- Describe processes for appeal if an institution wishes to dispute an accreditation decision.
The Commission will have adequate and accessible human and financial resources to carry out its quality assurance and accrediting functions in an organized and effective manner. The Commission will:
- Develop annual budgets, maintain accounts, and prepare audited financial reports;
- Appoint a sufficient number of appropriately paid and qualified staff;
- Ensure that staff are assigned activities that are appropriate to their expertise with manageable workloads;
- Establish fees and cost structures that are consistent with local requirements and internal practice for comparable activities;
- Provide adequate recompense for expenses related to the external review;
- Maintain records of statistical and other institutional, programmatic and system level data required for monitoring quality;
- Maintain a current registry of external reviewers.
System of Appeal
The Commission will establish and make public an equitable system for consideration of appeals that provides for eligibility criteria for lodging appeals and independent review of decisions made.
Collaboration with Other Agencies
The Commission will collaborate:
- Domestically with appropriate governmental and private sector agencies and postsecondary education organizations in developing standards and procedures for quality assurance;
- Internationally through membership and active participation in the International Network of Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education; participation in regional quality assurance and accreditation gatherings; collaborative activities with accrediting bodies internationally; and other collegial activities which will enhance the national process of accreditation.
Transnational Post Secondary Education
The Commission will include in its standards and procedures appropriate mechanisms for quality assurance for international educational and training organizations wishing to operate in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This may involve such an organization offering programs on its own behalf or in partnership with a local institution. The processes will involve collaboration with the relevant quality agency in the other jurisdiction. It will be a requirement that programs offered within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by any such institution meet the Kingdoms standards for provision of a program of that kind.
Quality Assurance of the Commission
The Commission will adopt quality assurance processes for its own activities that are consistent with the principles and procedures it advocates in the institutions with which it is associated. As an initial step the Commission has adopted this Declaration of Good Practice which follows the criteria outlined in the Guidelines of Good Practice of the International Network of Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education. The Commission will:
- Establish goals and objectives and strategic planning processes based on its legislated responsibilities and its mission;
- Ensure that its members and professional staff are appropriately qualified and experienced, and committed to carrying out their responsibilities;
- Establish indicators and benchmarks for its performance that include both the quality of its own performance and its impact on the system it is designed to support;
- Monitor and regularly review the quality of its own activities and participate in periodic independent evaluations of the quality of its performance.