The Macao Polytechnic University (MPU) and the Asia Pacific Quality Network (APQN) jointly organized “The 14th Higher Education International Conference on Online Teaching and Sustainable Quality Assurance: Challenges and Perspectives”, held online from 29th to 30th November 2022. Over 20 experts from the UK, Belgium, Russia, Philippines, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Mongolia, Chinese Mainland, Hong Kong and Macao presented their papers. The online conference attracted 200 experts and Ph.D. candidates from all over the world to participate. They actively engaged in exchanging views and interacting freely during the conference.
Professor Im Sio Kei, Rector of MPU, delivered the opening speech, remarking how online teaching has rapidly developed into a mainstream teaching method around the world, and that standards and requirements for quality assurance in higher education have changed accordingly. MPU and APQN continued taking on the role of building a platform and cooperating for the eighth time in hosting the higher education international conference. This year, the conference focused on the themes of “digitalization”, “cross-border”, “AI application”, “information technology innovations in accreditation”, “online teaching and assessment”, coping with changes for cross-border cooperation, and different methods of assessments and standards in the post-pandemic era. The conference aimed to provide exchange opportunities and share teaching research experiences and practices for participants around the world.
Mr. Nar Bahadur Raika, newly appointed President of APQN, delivered the welcome speech, exclaiming that the conference was held at just the right time. The pandemic has brought us many lessons in adapting online and blended learning, and adapting to the use of technological gadgets, so relearning, reskilling, and upskilling are the hot topics in higher education. Higher education institutions have to work toward facilitating the transnational mobility of graduates competent enough to learn while they continue to learn. Therefore, it is time to move away from teaching knowledge and skills to helping them to maneuver through the challenges of unlearning. He looked forward to seeing all the experts sharing practical ways of enhancing teaching quality, and remarked that APQN is committed to the continued collaboration with agencies working for the enhancement of quality higher education.
This conference invited famous experts and scholars of higher education quality assurance to deliver keynote sessions. Mr. Douglas Blackstock, President of the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA) presented on “Quality Assurance in the Changing World of Higher Education – A Perspective from Europe”. He said that quality is best advanced when institutions, students, and stakeholders collaborate in developing expectations and sharing effective practices. Driven by the pandemic, the greater integration of digital education into traditional approaches has changed the needs and expectations of students and staff. Trends in future European quality assurance frameworks are also beginning to move towards evidence-based, critical reflection and stakeholder consultation.
Mr. Albert Chow, Executive Director of Hong Kong Council for Accreditation of Academic and Vocational Qualifications (HKCAAVQ) presented a “Pilot Project on the Development of Applied Degree Programmes”. He explained that the HKCAAVQ conducted research and consultancy on the development of applied degrees in Hong Kong. This project is going to complete with a view of making recommendations on the policy support, incentives, and implementation details for further avocation and support of vocational and professional education and training development in Hong Kong in the years to come.
Ms. Maureen McLaughlin, Academic Registrar and Director of Student, Library and Academic Services of Northumbria University, UK, spoke about “What have we learned from learning online?”. She pointed out that the pandemic drove the higher education community more rapidly to adapt approaches to teaching and learning. The negative perceptions of online experience were explored, as were the established and evolving benefits, the challenges being addressed, and those that remain. A wider view of the total student experience should help us address the challenges and build on the positives highlighted by this monumental shift in learning delivery so that we can offer more transformational, sustainable, and carefully constructed learning opportunities for our students.
Prof. Galina Motova, Vice-President of APQN presented on “Aggregated ranking as a tool for evaluation of the quality and positioning of Asia-Pacific universities at the global level”. She pointed out that various rankings and accreditations in the world are developing rapidly in the higher education system, but the overarching objective is the same: to enhance the quality of higher education. Through research, all data can be combined into a single aggregated ranking that ultimately serves as a tool for evaluating the quality of education. A new method is also provided for determining the top institutions, namely the league analysis method, which is used to create the global aggregated university ranking. This approach may also be viewed by the general public as a thorough and unbiased assessment tool.
In this two-day conference, more than 20 scholars presented papers in five parallel sessions. Various experts and scholars discussed the current situation and the future of quality assurance in higher education, innovation and influence in education evaluation, the mechanism and effectiveness of online teaching in various disciplines, digitalization of quality assurance, and more. The participants declared that they benefited from the exchanges at this conference.