Higher education is offered at universities and post-secondary institutions offering training at diploma and certificate levels. The growth of the higher education sector has resulted into tremendous increase in student enrollment in the past two decades. The rapid expansion of higher education in the last ten years, has raised serious concern over the issue of quality in higher learning. These concerns have led to the creation of national regulatory bodies to protect the quality of higher education. It is globally acknowledged that quality higher education is crucial to national development. The development and utilization of proper and effective mechanisms for monitoring and evaluation of are critical to successful higher education everywhere. Every nation and its university graduates are competing in an environment shaped by its own local and national needs, as well as international expectations and standards.
The need for proper monitoring and evaluation of higher education has been triggered by the following factors
Demand for quality higher education
Students are increasingly becoming a driver for quality education in Kenya and the world at large. In countries where students have a recognized status, they play an active role and are a powerful respected body. A current international trend likely to increase awareness of quality teaching is that students are invited to serve on governing bodies or hired as evaluation experts on par with academic peer reviewers. Students serve on the board of audits and raise concerns about teaching, learning environments, quality of content and teacher attitude. Institutions or departments dealing with competence-based education are often advanced in the institutional support for, and evaluation of, quality teaching. Frequently, they have committed to carefully selecting new teachers and to upgrading their recruitment process to encompass pedagogical skills. In career-oriented or vocational training programmes, students may complain of lack of programme consistency or poor practice-based learning, even when they are mature or working students. Student and alumni associations can easily benchmark learning conditions, teacher attitudes, pedagogy and support, and hence may promote or undermine the reputation of the institutions. Programmes requiring 30 technical skills, like information technology or healthcare studies, must pay close attention to the quality of the equipment and the type of teaching delivered.
Increasing quality assurance and recognition of qualifications
Cross-national recognition of qualifications and joint accreditation of degrees and diplomas is not new to the African continent, and various sub-regional bilateral and multilateral mechanisms have been in place for some time to facilitate these processes, e.g., in East Africa by the Inter-University Council. There is however a broad understanding that the existing international and regional initiatives on quality assurance, and accreditation and recognition of qualifications have to be further strengthened and implemented more effectively. There is a need for new regional and international initiatives to enhance student protection at a global level, while respecting individual countries authority to regulate the quality assurance and accreditation of their own higher education systems. This move calls for more collaboration between domestic higher education service providers and international organizations.
Market Demand for Quality and Relevance of Education.
We are moving very fast into an era where the end-users of the products of higher education are demanding relevance and the need for special skills from the products of these institutions. Today, it is not enough to hold a certificate, it is important to be able to exhibit skills to carry out some services. Higher education institutions therefore need to ensure that the inputs, process and outputs of these institutions through appropriate quality assurance programmes to meet the market demand.
The Challenge of Brain-Drain
This challenge is common in developing nations. For instance it is estimated that about 3 million Africans live in Europe and North America. Over one hundred thousand are professionals. The World Bank reports that approximately 23,000 university graduates and 50,000 executives leave Africa annually. Estimates show that 40,000 PhD holders live outside Africa. There are arguments that the phenomenon of “brain-drain” can be made to be beneficial as the skilled and highly qualified professionals can put their capacities to the service of their home nations, which may benefit from emigrants’ remittances, export opportunities for technology, transfer of knowledge, increased ties to foreign institutions and access to international networks. One important way of retaining African human resources is by improving the quality of education so as to avoid “brain-drain”.