A very welcome report into operational issues relating to the quality assurance and enhancement issues around employer responsive provision. I don’t think the report contained any surprises, in essence those involved in employer engagement are striving for QA processes which are: manageable, proportionate and responsive.

I get a sense from the report that HEI’s are moving in similar directions and that we are treading new ground and establishing new norms and practices, albeit carefully. Essentially the QA approaches highlighted in the report boil down to risk management. As we progress new initiatives, make mistakes and hopefully learn we will better understand the realities and the potential risks. The document captures higher education’s work in progress.

Some reactive thoughts …  As  I read the report I get the sense that we (me included)  are  tinkering with existing systems to fit the employer engagement, I can’t help thinking that we might need to be more radical and step back from trying to manage the unmanageable.  We are trying to quality assure remote provision (which may be in the hands of private providers, other institutions or employers themselves), are we ever really going to be able to confidently do this in a way which is more than nominal? 

In asking what is the role of HEI in this time we may conclude that we are (amongst other things) in the business of simply assessing learning, if this is the conclusion employers, trainers and individuals could learn by whatever means they choose, they might carry on with exactly what they are currently doing, but if they want the accredited certification they need to pay for the assessment process. It may remove the need for notional QA.  

Lets QA the things that WE offer.  

We can accredit learning in packages which are recognisable  and we can assess them, we may even be able to offer a route to help learners reach the learning outcomes (but so too might other places/outfits), learners can choose how they learn (and this may be independently through the WWW) but they use the HEI to gain the recognition for their learning.  If they want to buy an experience as well as the opportunity to be assessed and thereafter accredited then they will come, if not they will choose to learn in other ways. Through this model our QA will be honest and transparent and whilst it may feel like a threat to our business (stepping back from provision), ultimately it may stimulate greater buy-in, brand protection and sustainability.