Polytechnic University of Valencia Congress, Fifth International Conference on Higher Education Advances

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Accreditation and quality in higher education curriculum design: does the tail wag the dog?
Denise May Wood, Greg Auhl, Sally McCarthy

Last modified: 25-06-2019


Increasingly, the higher education sector is driven by sets of standards that describe quality – internal institutional standards that consider curriculum, teaching and delivery to students and external standards from both the sector and the professions that describe expectations, content, skills and attitudes that curricula must address to support graduate outcomes. Quality is the focus of these requirements, and yet quality in higher education remains a messy problem, with no clear framework (Kundu, 2016) and numerous variables that confound the problem. We ask what comes first: the external standards that accredit a university to provide education for a profession, or internal standards that focus on quality teaching and learning opportunities. The paper presents a short case study that highlights the challenge for course leaders pressured to meet industry requirements, and the impact this has on their awareness and capacity to design a transformational curriculum for students. We conclude that it is the difference between an aspirational courses, whereby quality is focussed on the learning design for student experience, and a compliant course, where quality is focussed on meeting static requirements.

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