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CANQATE conference to tackle quality of tertiary education

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by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada

  • UWI Pro Vice-Chancellor and Principal to present on Implementing Quality Assurance Practices
  • CANQATE conference will be held on 22-24 October

Pro Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of the West Indies (UWI) Open Campus, Dr Luz Longsworth, is slated to present at the 16th Annual Caribbean Area Network for Quality Assurance in Tertiary Education (CANQATE) conference to discuss the evaluation, accreditation, and improvement of tertiary education in the region.

Addressing the topic “Implementing Quality Assurance Practices in the Caribbean Region: Opportunities and Challenges” Dr Longsworth joins keynote speakers Dr Leon Wilson — who will speak on the topic “The Regionalisation of Discipline-Specific Quality Practices: A Feasible and Desirable objective?” — and Rob May who will present on “International Credentials, Local Regulation.”

Other presenters include Registrar at the University of Guyana, Dr C Nigel Gravesande, who once served in the same capacity at the TA Marryshow College (TAMCC).

Established in 2004, CANQATE comprises external quality assurance agencies, including government ministries, state agencies, and higher education institutions. It was established to promote the development of tertiary education and to act as a conduit to promoting regional discourses on policy and programmes geared at quality assurance and quality enhancement.

The conference was last held in Trinidad and Tobago in 2018, and will be held in Grenada this year for the first time under the theme, “Creating an enabling environment for the pursuit of quality tertiary education: Opportunities and challenges.”

Pauline Finley – Executive Director of the Grenada National Accreditation Board

Pauline Finley, Executive Director, Grenada National Accreditation Board (GNAB), said there are many barriers affecting the delivery of tertiary education in the region and these barriers must be addressed. “Usually you have faculty qualifications and capacity of faculty. There are some barriers or issues related to the curriculum used at higher education institutions. There is also the issue of governance and capacity and the willingness of institutions to change as the demands of the graduates change, and then again you have the issue of access. Some student finds it very expensive to attend institutions.”

This year’s conference, she said, will provide an open discourse on strengths, threats, and challenges surrounding tertiary education. “We have quite a number of concurrent presentations, presenters will look at policies that govern institutions, they are going to talk about technical and vocational education. They are going to present their research findings and open discourse on issues as it affects graduates, institutions, and government,” she said.

Shane Mc Quilkin, Quality Assurance Officer, GNAB, said this year a lot of discussions will be centred around the quality of online education. “We really want to appease any kind of fear or hesitance that people may have that maybe in-classroom education is higher than online education, when really and truly as long as the quality is maintained, then there is really no difference between the two.”

The 16th Annual CANQATE conference will be held on 22-24 October 2019 at the Radisson Beach Resort. The conference will also provide secondary students with the opportunity to voice their concerns with regard to issues attaining tertiary education.

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