Linking Quality Assurance’s Operational Plan in Higher Education Institution’s Departments

All organizations strive for stability to accomplish recognition. To achieve immovability, they need accreditation by authorized bodies that release institutional sanctions based from standardized criteria and procedures. In order that educational organization will be qualified for recognition, its quality assurance should stipulate the important tenets in its operational plans. According to Church (1988), quality assurance is about ensuring that there should be instruments, actions and procedures available to guarantee the achievement of distinctive level of superiority, which alludes to UNESCO’s academic definition as “the systematic review of educational programs to ensure that acceptable standards of education, scholarship and infrastructure are maintained.”

Quality Assurance systems connect to the mandates and other related policies released in any country. It is highly needed for academic, social and economic development. A country’s development plan acts as legal basis of implementing quality assurance in an educational institution since it contains mandates and policies by orders or decrees which are directed to all state’s agencies. It acts as a mother plan for quality assurance- accreditation bodies that implement and monitor. Usually, in the absence of a created quality assurance group for endorsement, the Higher Education becomes the channel of implementation which connects to private or public institutions, through releasing guidelines. Every institution plans its own quality assurance system with the employment of development plan. The legal bases of Quality assurance vary from one country to another. Despite difference of legal bases, general operational plan of colleges and universities commonly exists that can further branch out for all departments to pattern depending on the organization’s structures or sizes.

To formulate an operational plan, there must be constitution and by-laws, college manuals, quality assurance accrediting council guidelines and the institution’s development plans that stipulates or implies the tenets of accreditations that are to be achieved. All these three elements’ are interconnected through the mandates containing operational canons or principles to be attained specified by the mother plan or the university’s general operational plan. Assuming that the X University has five departments namely College of Teacher Education, College of Liberal Arts, College of Tourism and Hospitality, College of Engineering and College of Nursing. Each of this department will frame its own Operational Plan; a portion is a part of a whole that is analogous to sub-operational plan is to department while a general operational plan is to its university.

A department’s plan operationally defined herein is a process to be undertaken by all members of the department to link and augment the achievement of the whole institutions’ operational plan. It is how every member of a department functionally and effectively contributes in the expansion of clients and stakeholders’ welfare in an organization. The performance of this operational plan hopes to lead for quality services.

It comprises a department’s background in a form of a preamble in conjunction with the mother plan. It states the types of students as recipients of services, courses it offers, content of the curriculum and how this curriculum operates for the promotion of students’ development. It also contains vision, mission and objectives revolving around the relevant the tenets. These principles to be strictly followed include but are not limited to the curricular programs of the educational institution, methods of instructions including faculty requirements, institutional facilities for the development of course offerings and the faculty, technical and academic services offered to the students’ learning development, faculty researches, publications, the management, and community alliance or linkages whether they are local or international private or public organizations. The operational plan stipulates how these tenets are achieved in a specific period. Since it is designed as an element of the mother plan or whole institutions’ operational plan, it is divided into University’s Operational Goal/s based from the goals stated from the general operational plan. The university’s main goals are further formulated into University Operational Plan Sub-goal with Specific Objective/s to be supported by Specific Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). These three (3) elements are associated together depending on the extent of the whole organization’s goals. Furthermore, these four elements provides five (5) major components to follow in the execution of the plan of actions which are objectives, strategy, accountability, indicator, and targets as products of institutional discretions which means that these components can be revised or added depending on necessities for the fulfilment of the plan. The objectives refer to the intended outcomes extracted from the main goals linked with sub-goals.

Strategy is the approach on how these objectives will be carried out, accountability refers to the members of the institution such as administrative bodies or staff in charged or any personnel connected to the accomplishment of the objectives. Indicators are the performances done by the staff/members of the organization in achieving the objectives. Targets refer to the frequency, extent or measure of performing the tasks, accomplishments and its period of attainment. It also indicates expected outcomes. A target elucidates the functionality of the strategies employed. The department’s operational plan is a subdivision of the university’s operational plan, so it has to follow the chronological components from where it links. Therefore, it has to contain General University Goal, Specific Department’s Operational Plan sub-goal and Key Performance Indicators together with the components of the action plan on how to acquire.

For example, the tenets targeted to be accomplished as stated in the mother operational plan is on instructions and faculty requirements, this principle will be stipulated in the department’s operational plan similar to what appears below.

(1) X University’s Operational Main Goal: The university strives to provide quality education that will allow graduates for national and International competitiveness through staffing of faculty employees of high qualifications.

(1) Specific Liberal Arts Departments’ Operational Plan sub-goal/specific objectives: To standardized recruitment policies in the college of Liberal Arts by employing college instructors with relevant experience vertically aligned to their specializations and who possess Masters or Doctorate qualifications from internationally recognized public or state universities from around the world.

(1) Key Performance Indicators: Increase population of college instructors with masters and /or doctorate degrees with relevant college teaching experiences alongside with impressive international researches and specialized trainings.

To establish the plan of action, a table consisting of columns for objectives, strategy, accountability, indicator and target must be framed. As an example, the objective will contain: organize and strictly observe the standardized guidelines on the recruitment requirements of teaching personnel in the department. The strategy entails: strict compliance to the recruitment guidelines mandated by the Department of Higher Education in admittance of university teaching personnel. Accountability encompasses: department dean, department head, and dean of academic affairs. For indicators cover: appraisals of the recruitment policies and monitoring teachers’ professional development. The target provides: perform hiring and retention every beginning of the academic year, rendition of faculty’s degree survey once a year, reclassification of teachers’ position per semester, 100% compliance to the recruitment standards set by the Higher Education Department.

As a second example, let’s presume that the second tenets stipulated in the general operational plan goal No. 2 of the institution is on research. An approach to this general goal is illustrated below.

(2) X University’s Operational Goal: The university endeavours to produce teachers with viable researches that contribute to the development of the institutions’ curricula and the recognition of faculty’s academic standing institutionally, nationally and internationally.

(2) Specific Liberal Arts Departments’ Operational Plan sub-goal/specific objectives: To encourage teachers’ research regarding their respective specializations by funding the conduct and publications of researches in institutional, national and international peered journals and award faculty’s scholastic efforts as evidenced by their written works.

(2) Key Performance Indicators: Increase of faculty researches in national and international -peered academic journals. Researches are used in the department, university and are accessed by other institutions nationally and internationally.

Now to establish the plan of action, a table consisting of columns for objectives, strategy, accountability, indicator and target will follow. To exemplify, the objective/s will contain: to produce research’s which are useful in the institutions or in other organizations in national or in international setting. To create an image of faculty vested with thorough knowledge capable of international effectiveness. The strategy entails: fund and encourage the concepts of faculty members for research engagement and assist the publication of researches to institutionally, nationally, internationally peered journals depending on the nature of the researches and award or compensate teachers with published researches. Accountability encompasses: the university president, human resource management, academic affairs and department head. Indicator covers: the approval of proposed research, monitoring of ongoing and accomplished researches in the college of liberal arts and submission of reports on feedback regarding research status to the head of the department. The target provides: yearly completion of accomplished reports to be submitted to staff accountable for evaluation. Reminders of research proposal through issued directives at the beginning of the academic year. 80% submission to the directives of the department heads.

Quality assurance in an educational institution doesn’t surface without the availability of relevant resources and these principles which educational goals are based on are the following tenets: curricular programs, instructions, facilities, academic services for students, faculty researches, publications, management, and community alliance or linkages with local or international private or public organizations. The operational plan stipulates how these tenets are achieved in a specific period of time. The quality assurance status of a general university will be assessed through its individual departments’ accomplishment whose quality assurance’s status have been weighed according to quality assurance standards by accreditation institutions.

Not all higher education institution faculty understands the essence of quality assurance as basis of an organization’s stability and recognition. The need to understand this unending practice is a must to be a part of the system to function fully by identifying the roles one needs to portray as educator for students’ outcome-based education. Every educator’s favourable actions in the organization contribute to the development of quality assurance being monitored. Everyone’s accomplishments form strong components of a department’s operational plan. These entail curriculum, educational qualifications of faculty, teaching methods and the courses being taught. The facilities that we use for instructions and the professional activities that we participate for continuous professional development form parts of the institutional plan. Our academic year performance as a teacher in the department and our academic affiliations or memberships with others groups, researches that we publish comprise the depth of our operational strategies, which determine the quality of the organization that we are affiliated with. As an integral element of the quality assurance in higher education system, knowing the operational plan’s procedure is crucial.