In developing products and services, quality assurance is a systematic process of checking to see whether these products or services being developed are meeting specified requirements. A quality assurance system aims to increase customer’s confidence and company's credibility, to improve work processes and efficiency, and to enable a company to better compete with others. Quality assurance emphasizes catching defects before getting into the final process.
A popular definition sees quality simply as “fitness for purpose.” In other words, once your product is defined, the quality of your product can be assessed. Based on this, quality assurance can mean the process of monitoring quality of product or service according to certain tolerances or standards. The production resources are used to convert inputs to outputs; thus, it enables the efficient use of resources to be quantified and the effectiveness in terms of quality to be measured. If this approach is applied to education, “Quality Assurance” can be described best as “the complete process of ensuring that the nature and quality of services are sufficient to secure the University’s aims and objectives”.
Quality depends on the commitment, professionalism and personal responsibility of every individual who is part of the University’s network of academic, administrative and support teams. Quality assurance is about people, attitudes, techniques, and procedures.
Quality improvement is not simply concerned with getting marginally better results from current activity. The greater challenge is to continually improve the manner in which services provided by the University are delivered to meet individual needs and to raise student achievements within the context of inclusive learning.
The University approach to quality is based on continuous improvement through critical self-assessment. Since measurement is vital under continuous improvement, it promotes understanding, provides information and shows trends to support informed decision-making. Measures may be quantitative or qualitative. A telling principle is if you cannot describe or measure it, how can you tell people how to deliver it and how do you know when it has been provided?
The University process for improving quality requires all courses/subjects and supporting teams to:
- set and achieve targets
- collate records and evidence to support University quality standards
- monitor and review their own performance through critical self assessment
- devise appropriate action plans to address weaknesses
- seek and evaluate the view of students
- record and a nalyze specified performance indicators and subject team profile information
- participate in the observation, monitoring and teaching support, and
- provide evidence of continuous quality improvement
The University Quality Assurance system is designed to be rigorous and effective in:
- informing University planning
- raising students’ achievements, and
- fulfilling the requirements of external stakeholders
Quality improvement is a continuous process which should be integrated into the normal delivery of the learning program and not as a response to internal inspection. A quality assurance system designed to maintain high standards in teaching and learning, to identify good practice, to facilitate continuous improvement and to fulfill the requirements of external agencies understandably needs to be comprehensive.
In Thailand, “The Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand requires enactment of a national education law, resulting in the drafting of the 1999 National Education Act. Chapter 6 of the Act includes provisions requiring measures for education standards and quality assurance as well as establishment of the Office of National Educational Standards and Quality Assessment, enjoying the status of a public organization. The Royal Decree Establishing the Office was duly published in the Royal Gazette on November 4, 2000”.
There are nine standards set by the Office of National Educational Standards and Quality Assessment (ONESQA) for quality assurance in Thailand to date as follows:
Element 1: Philosophy, Mission, Objectives and Action Plan
Element 2: Quality of Graduates
Element 3: Activities to develop students
Element 4: Research
Element 5: Academic services to society
Element 6: Arts and Culture
Element 7: Management
Element 8: Finance and Budget
Element 9: System and Procedure of Quality Assurance
All nine standard categories were used in KMUTT’s 2011 self-assessment to prepare all schools for the next quality assurance. However, KPI (Key Performance Indicator) in each standard was combined from KPIs of many quality assurance organizations in Thailand i.e. Office of National Educational Standards and Quality Assessment (ONESQA), therefore, 23 KPIs were in 2011 self-assessment follows below: