Quality assurance

Given the complexity of global challenges, present and future, the Higher Education (HE) has the social responsibility to advance our understanding of multifaceted problems with social, economic, scientific and cultural, as well as our ability to cope. Higher education must assume social leadership in the creation of knowledge to successfully address major global challenges (CRES, Cartagena 2008). At no time in history has it been more important as we now have the quality assurance of higher education, for being a primary force for building knowledge societies, inclusive and diverse and to foster research, innovation, creativity and development (CMES, Paris 2009).

During the last three decades, more than half of all countries of the world have created mechanisms for quality assurance. Within the development of knowledge societies has been established to the human mind as the most important direct productive force and therefore the generation, processing and transmission of information as sources of productivity and power, become valuable and competitive by what is necessary to establish confidence levels, ensuring its quality, to advance the organic and sustainable development of nations.

There are several factors that have to do with this need to ensure the quality of higher education: An acceleration of scientific and technological change-innovative, rapidly expanding higher education systems, as there is a wider range of higher education providers including public, private, border and distance education, as well as new forms of social organization. The quality assurance is related to academic and professional mobility and a growing number of regional integration and international. This raises the need for more effective mechanisms for the recognition of the credentials of the higher education.

The quality of higher education institutions has declined due to economic constraints and a change in priorities and policies from basic to advanced levels of education, so it is imperative to establish standards of quality in the entire educational process and finally globalization has promoted negative effects as a rising tide of academic fraud: diploma mills, informal providers,fraudulent institutions or falsified credentials. This increases the demand for reliable organizations that can build confidence using processes of quality assurance.

Expanding access poses a challenge to the quality of higher education. Quality assurance is an essential function of contemporary higher education must involve all stakeholders. It is a task that requires both the implementation of systems to ensure the quality and standards of internal and external assessment, and the promotion of a culture of quality in HE institutions (CMES, Paris 2009). The priority effort is to promote the assessment and accreditation as social instruments that seek to ensure the quality of education that is required to successfully meet the challenges of today and rightly discern future challenges.

The quality assurance has two purposes: The control and accountability and a necessary and subsequent improvement. Control and accountability processes related to evaluating whether minimum standards are met in an institution or program of higher education. The quality improvement identifies development processes, such as the strengths and weaknesses of institutions and their academic offerings. In this context, UNESCO-IESALC is oriented within the processes of internationalization and Knowledge Management and Production, to stimulate these processes of quality assurance to occur within the higher education institutions and governments that cause sustained improvement in the quality of higher education systems in the countries of Latin American and Caribbean region.

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