On Wednesday, 29 January 2020, Sultan Qaboos University (SQU), represented by its Quality Assurance Office (QAO) hosted a lecture on “Policies and Actions of Accreditation and Quality Assurance Bodies to Counter Corruption in Higher Education” delivered by Dr. Irene Glendinning from Coventry University, United Kingdom. The lecture was held under the patronage of Hon. Dr. Badria Ibrahim Al Shihi, Deputy Chairperson of the State Council. It was organized at SQU’s Al Fahm Hall as part of the series of lectures organized by the Gulf Network for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (GNQAHE) in the GCC.
In her lecture, Dr. Irene Glendinning elaborated on a global study conducted during 2017-18 for the Council for Higher Education Accreditation International Quality Group (CHEA/CIQG). This study builds on the Advisory Statement for Effective International Practice, Combatting Corruption and Enhancing Integrity: A Contemporary Challenge for the Quality and Credibility of Higher Education (Advisory Statement) by International Institute for Educational Planning, IIEP / UNESCO and CIQG (IIEP & CIQG 2016). This study captured information about actions and responses of accreditation and quality assurance bodies (AQABs) to address different forms of corruption in higher education.
The Advisory Statement observes “academic corruption as an international problem that afflicts rich and poor countries alike”. It concludes with a call to action: “Governments, quality assurance agencies and higher educational institutions(HEIs) worldwide must become more aware of the threatthat corruption poses to the credibility, effectiveness and quality of higher education at a time whenits importance as a driver of global development has never been higher. External quality assurance agencies should do more to review the risks of corruption in their work and HEIs must ensure that their internal quality assurance frameworks are also fit for the purpose of combatting corruption. Training and supporting staff in identifying and exposing corrupt practices should be stepped up”.
Dr. Khamis Saleh Al Balushi, Director General of GNQAHE said that his organization believes that the ideal method to address the issue of corruption in higher education needs to be preventive in nature. “It is best achieved through a proactive multifaceted approach which starts with awareness raising and training and culminates in the enactment of the appropriate legislation to immunize our sectors and institutions. GNQAHE has undertaken to adopt a preventive approach in raising the issue of corruption and addressing any issue that would hinder the growth of higher education sectors in the GCC countries”, he said.
Dr. Ibrahim Sultan Al Harthy, Director of the Quality Assurance Office at SQU introduced the speaker Dr. Irene Glendinning to the audience. He also listed some of the future activities of the Quality assurance office, which includes launching of journal on quality in higher education and a forum on quality assurance to be held in near future.