Professional regulatory bodies in the country have commended steps that the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) has taken to collaborate with them in the promotion of quality higher education in Malawi.
Noting that higher education has two parts, academic and professional, representatives from some professional regulatory bodies in Malawi said it is imperative that the two sides work together to promote quality.
Speaking at a consultative meeting for the National Higher Education Qualifications Framework organized by NCHE for professional regulatory bodies in Mangochi recently, acting Registrar of the Medical Council of Malawi Mr. Richard Ndovie noted that collaboration is important in provision of quality education.
“With regard to Medical Council in specific we want not to be duplicating the job NCHE does, we want to be doing things systematically. When they are inspecting or accrediting programmes we will be working with NCHE, in fact we involve NCHE already in our committee when we are vetting curriculums so our working relationship is quite ok with NCHE,” he said.
Mr. Ndovie noted that working together will also bring sanity to the sector.
“There will be sanity because there will be no place to hide for those institutions which run without being licenced or accredited because as medical council we know what we are looking for, nobody can just start offering a medical programme anywhere or a health programme and then if it’s not us then NCHE will be there and we will be sharing information to say are you aware of this institution operating without approval and vice versa and in the process we will be bringing sanity,” said Ndovie.
Director for the Council of Legal Education Bruno Kalemba noted that the coming in of NCHE has fundamentally changed the landscape in terms of accreditation in that whereas before NCHE most of the professional bodies only had to make reference to their parent ministries, now we have a centralized institution like NCHE to carry out that function.
“It is only proper that we should all be on all fours as we are moving forward in this process of accreditation so this meeting has really helped us to come up with a foundation from which we can build how relationships between NCHE and the professional regulatory bodies are going to be,” he said.
He reiterated that such a relationship between NCHE and professional regulatory bodies will in the long run standardize the process of accrediting higher education institutions and the programmes they offer.
“What is going to happen is that as Council of Legal Education we are mainly concerned with the law programmes while NCHE looks at the bigger picture of the institutions that offer those programmes.
“So our roles are more complimentary. We are not on opposing sides but we are on the same side with complimentary roles and this meeting will help us come up with processes that are going to streamline such roles so that we do not put undue pressure on the providers so that the providers know from the word go who does what in the process of accreditation.” said Kalemba.
Council of Legal Education controls, supervises and manages legal education in the country. Any qualification has to be approved and licenced by Council of Legal Education before it is recognized as such.
Apart from the Medical Council of Malawi and Council of Legal Education, other professional regulatory bodies present at the meeting were the Nurses Council of Malawi; Malawi Accountants Board; Institute of Certified Accounts in Malawi; Bankers Association of Malawi; Malawi Institute of Procurement and Supply; Board of Architects and Quantity Surveyors; Malawi Institute of Architects;
After meeting with the professional regulatory bodies, representatives from both public and private higher education institutions joined in on the discussions.
Speaking at the meeting, NCHE Chief Executive Officer Dr. Ignasio Jimu reiterated the importance of all players in the higher education sector working together to promote quality.
“We recognize that many countries have developed qualification frameworks and there is a steady progress towards regional and continental integration. This is an important facet given that the discourse on qualifications framework is further linked to the question of ensuring appropriate skill levels for economic regeneration, growth and transformation,” Dr. Jimu said.
Dr. Jimu noted that the worthiness of our qualifications and the regulatory regime itself are in need of enhancing therefore as a country we cannot stop reflecting on the need for robust internal and external quality assurance processes hence the requirement that higher education institutions should endevour to set up quality assurance units.
NCHE is the regulator for the higher education sector in Malawi as mandated by Act of parliament No. 15 of 2011.