DRAFT FINAL REPORT. Second Global Forum on International Quality Assurance, Accreditation and the Recognition of Qualifications ED/2005/RP/H/1

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1 Distribution: Limited ED/2005/RP/H/1 Original: English UNITED NATIONS EDUCATIONAL, SCIENTIFIC AND CULTURAL ORGANIZATION DRAFT FINAL REPORT Second Global Forum on International Quality Assurance, Accreditation and the Recognition of Qualifications

2 Contents Final Report Annexes Annex I. Annex II. Annex III. Annex IV. List of Participants Final Programme Reports from the Working Groups List of documents 2

3 I. Introduction 1. The Second Global Forum on International Quality Assurance, Accreditation and the Recognition of Qualifications, organized by the Division of Higher Education, took place at UNESCO Headquarters, Paris, on June This Global Forum was launched as part of UNESCO s mission to respond to the ethical challenges and dilemmas facing higher education as a result of globalisation. The Global Forum on International Quality Assurance, Accreditation and the Recognition of Qualifications aims to provide a platform for dialogue between a wide range of higher education providers and stakeholders and to link existing frameworks dealing with international issues of quality assurance, accreditation and the recognition of qualifications. 3. The Second Global Forum was classified as a meeting of experts (Category VI, Article 56, Manual of the General Conference, 2002). As a Category VI. Meeting, it aimed to propose to the Director-General of UNESCO a strategy for capacity-building and partnerships to support the Action Plan objectives of the Global Forum while taking into account the increasing dimensions of access in the globalised higher education arena. 4. The meeting brought together some 240 participants from over 80 UNESCO Member States representing ministries of education and institutions of higher education from all UNESCO regions. 5. Participants also included the Presidents from five of the six Regional Committees in charge of the application of the UNESCO Conventions on the recognition of qualifications in higher education in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, the Arab States, the Mediterranean, the Council of Europe/UNESCO Convention for the Europe Region, including North America (the Lisbon Recognition Convention). 6. Partners from inter-governmental organizations including the Council of Europe, the European Commission, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United Nations University and the World Bank, as well as non-governmental organizations including Education International, the European University Association, the International Association of Universities, the International Association of University Presidents, the International Baccalaureate Organization, the International Council for Open and Distance Education and the International Network for Quality Assurance Agencies of Higher Education participated. In addition, student representatives from the Asian Students Association (ASA) and the National Union of Students in Europe (ESIB) were present. (Annex I: Final List of Participants). II. Opening of the Global Forum and Organization of Discussions 7. Mr Abdel Bagi Abdel G. Babiker, President of the Regional Committee for the Convention on the Recognition of Studies, Diplomas and Degrees concerning Higher Education in the Arab States, Sudan, opened the Second Global Forum on International Quality Assurance, Accreditation and the Recognition of Qualifications on 28 June

4 8. The working languages of the First Global Forum were English and French in the plenary discussions. Speeches made in one of the working languages were simultaneously interpreted into the other working language. The Parallel Thematic Working Groups were held either in one or both of the working languages. The majority of documents were made available in both working languages. 9. The Second Global Forum included three Plenary Sessions and one Parallel Working Group session. The First Plenary Session consisted of the Opening Ceremony. The Second Plenary Session was a thematic debate on Widening Access to Quality Higher Education: Access to the Knowledge Society. The final Plenary Session outlined a follow up- strategy for the Global Forum. The Parallel Working Group Sessions aimed to provide debate and exchange of views, focussing on five main topics : Mapping needs for the establishment of quality assurance frameworks at the regional and national level; Widening access to quality open education resources (OERs); Access to quality higher education provision in distance education; Student empowerment for informed decisionmaking; and UNESCO standard-setting instruments - conventions and guidelines. (Annex II. Final Programme). III. Summary of Discussions 10. The discussions of Session I. Opening Ceremony, chaired by Mr Abdel Bagi Abdel G. Babiker, President of the Regional Committee for the Convention on the Recognition of Studies, Diplomas and Degrees concerning Higher Education in the Arab States, (Sudan), centred on outlining new developments in higher education arising from the emerging knowledge society and progress of the Global Forum Acton Plan. Mr Georges Haddad, Director of the Division of Higher Education, in his Welcome Address, highlighted the importance of quality assurance in view of the challenges of globalization of higher education. Ms Stamenka Uvalic-Trumbic, of the Division of Higher Education UNESCO provided an overview of the implementation of the Action Plan of the Global Forum established in 2002 and outlined the challenges to be addressed by the Second Global Forum capacity building to support access to quality provision of higher education. Dr Suzi Halimi, Chair of the Education and Training Committee of the French National Commission for UNESCO then made an Opening Address in which she underscored the advantages of lifelong learning and its contribution to promoting access to higher education in the 21 st Century. Dr Juan Ramon de la Fuente Ramirez, Rector of Universidad Nacional Autonoma de México, Mexico then delivered a Keynote Presentation which focussed on the challenges of widening access to quality higher education and concluded by highlighting the benefits for establishing a legal framework which is transparent, commonly acceptable and beneficial to all to ensure quality provision of higher education. Dr S.C. Garg, Pro-Vice Chancellor, of the Indira Ghandi National Open University (IGNOU), India then delivered a Keynote Presentation in which he provided an overview of the experience of IGNOU in promoting access to higher education through distance learning. 12. The ensuing Plenary Discussions focussed on Widening Access to Quality Higher Education: Access to the Knowledge Society. This Session was Chaired by Dr Robin Middlehurst of the University of Surrey, UK. Dr Fahima Charaffeddine, Professor of Sociology, of the University of Lebanon, Lebanon spoke on the challenges of higher education in developing countries, with a focus on experiences of the Arab States region. Dr Gary Thomas, Director of the Centre for Indigenous Education, University of 4

5 Melbourne, Australia spoke of the indigenous Australian perspective concerning widening access to higher education and provided an example of the operations of the Centre for Indigenous Education based on the principles of access, support, excellence and community. Dr Mala Singh of the Council of Higher Education, South Africa, underscored the political and educational challenges of capacity building in quality assurance and concluded by highlighting the challenge of facilitating the emergence of quality assurance cultures in developing countries that are self-sustaining and selfrenewing. 13. This Panel discussion was followed by five Parallel Thematic Working Groups, which aimed to provide debate and exchange of views. (Annex III. Reports from Thematic Workshops). 14. Session IV Follow Up Strategy was Chaired by Dr Peter Okebukola, Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (Nigeria). This session started with Reports from the Working Groups in Session III. This was followed by a presentation of the conclusions of the meeting by the General Rapporteur, Ms Carolyn Campbell of the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education of the United Kingdom. 15. The General Rapporteur, Ms Carolyn Campbell, provided a summary of the conclusions by highlighting the challenges to access to higher education discussed during the Second Global Forum, providing a synthesis of the priorities and strategies for capacity building discussed in the debates. In conclusion Ms Campbell underscored the continued support for the objectives of the Global Forum and its Action Plan highlighted in the deliberations of the Second Global Forum and stressed the importance of taking into account the needs of recipient countries for capacity building to promote access to quality provision of higher education. 16. Ms Stamenka Uvalic-Trumbic, Division of Higher Education, UNESCO in her closing remarks highlighted UNESCO s specific role and functions in standard-setting, capacity building, and clearinghouse activities as delineated in its Medium Term Strategy 1 activities foreseen in the Global Forum Action Plan which could contribute to meeting the challenges of promoting access to quality provision of higher education. IV. Decisions and Recommendations 17. The participants agreed that the Global Forum should continue as a platform for exchange between the various partners and stakeholders in international and crossborder higher education. The Global Forum should provide an inclusive space to share information between different partners, networks and stakeholders in higher education. It should also initiate debate on the social, political, economic and cultural dimensions underpinning globalization and higher education. 18. After a two-day debate with presentations and discussion in plenary and five Working Groups 2, the Second Global Forum proposed a focus of the Action Plan 1 UNESCO s Medium Term Strategy , Article 30, defines UNESCO s functions as a laboratory of ideas, a standard-setter, a clearing house, a capacity-builder in Member States, a catalyst for international cooperation 2 See Annex II: Final Programme; Annex III: Reports from Parallel Working Groups. 5

6 for UNESCO in its standard-setting, capacity building and clearinghouse activities to meet the challenges of access to quality provision of higher education: IV.1 Standard-setting i) Review of the Regional/Intergovernmental Conventions amendments to be presented to the 33rd UNESCO General Conference in October 2005; ii) UNESCO-OECD Guidelines on Quality Provision of Cross-Border Higher Education elaborated and adopted; implementation phase initiated; iii) Research on issues concerning access to quality provision of higher education further promoted; IV.2 Capacity Building i) Strategy for capacity-building in Quality Assurance and Accreditation for traditional and cross-border higher education (including ICT-assisted) developed, as part of larger higher education policy frameworks. This strategy will be based on a needs assessment and take into account the following key elements: ownership of the programme by stakeholders and involvement of important partners; build on existing capacities; involve a multi-level approach which incorporates individual, institutional and societal elements; and focus on a critical mass approach IV.3 Clearinghouse i) New tools for students (quality literacy) developed and included in 33rd edition of Study Abroad; ii) Data-base of accredited higher education available on-line as a tool for consumer protection iii) UNESCO Knowledge Base for Decision makers for Distance Education in Africa, Asia and the Pacific and CIS and Baltic States developed and available online iv) Awareness raising and adaptation of Open Educational Resources elaborated. V. Closing 19. At the end of the Global Forum, Mr Peter Okebukola, in his closing remarks thanked the participants for their active contribution to the Second Global Forum and the spirit of co-operation that they demonstrated during its proceeding. Participants expressed their thanks to UNESCO for providing an open space for dialogue between a wide range of stakeholders engaged in a constructive intellectual debate on a topic of increasing interest worldwide. The working documents, regional inputs and reference documents, as well as the majority of the presentations of the Second Global Forum on International Quality Assurance, Accreditation and the Recognition of Qualifications are available on the UNESCO website at: 6

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