Unnecessary Policies in International Institutions

There are many aspects I would change in Higher Education, but the main one for me is about the unnecessary policies in educational institutions. I will start off with my experience:

I previously worked at an international college that is affiliated by an Australian University. Being new to this environment, I was offered to be involved in “The Validation and Moderation Committee”. After spending three years and six semesters in that committee, I want to talk about some of the inter and intra-departmental policies that I was forced to deal with, and how some served as unnecessary barriers to student’s engagement in learning, something policy makers tend to lack awareness of.

One of the main responsibilities of this committee was to validate all assessments and make sure all forms of assessments met certain departmental standards. The word validate here means overlooking a colleague’s assessment to ensure it is ready to be handed out to the students for assessment. So, anything missing in the assessment whether related to content, marks, question clarity, model answers, and so on can be audited. After the assessment is reviewed by all committee members, it is then handed back to the instructor along with comments and modifications if required. Sometimes professors took it personally, while others were thankful. In my opinion, I felt this policy was unnecessary. Professors have the right to create their own assessments and should not be obliged to make adjustments they do not believe is necessary to cover key competencies and learning outcomes of their class. Two instructors could be teaching the same unit, but one of them might have covered fewer topics because the pace of learning in the classroom was slower. By no means should an instructor change some of the assessment just to satisfy a specific policy that really does more harm than good. According to Forbes, one of the top challenges of higher education nowadays is assessments. Billions are being spent on higher education without confirming the effectiveness of the current assessment strategies. Most of them are based on achieving learning outcomes, however, determining the acquision of competence and skills remains the real challenge. So, instead of institutions having to create continuous policies that will not have be beneficial, a focus on targeting the right competencies through assessments could be their way to success.

Another policy that worked through is the Re-assessment policy. So to explain this further, this is policy provides a second chance for students to sit through an assessment they already failed. The re-assessment applies to midterms and finals, but this occurs only under the condition, one of them being that the student maintains an 80 % by the time the semester is over.  The re-assessment grade of that particular midterm/final will only have a maximum grade of the passing grade. So, for example, if a student fails on midterm 1 and sit through a re-assessment, the maximum grade they can accumulate is 60 % (the passing grade) even if they scored 100%. Remember that this is only possible if the student has a minimum of 80 %. Communication between instructors and students about class policies like this are acknowledged by both ends.

This policy in my opinion can be modified in a way that can fully exploit students’ performance early in the semester. The majority of the students I had tend to focus on this policy as a gateway to escape the hard work and focus you need to put at the beginning of semester. Most of them also tend to rely heavily on this policy rather than actually perform well in class. I believe that this policy affects student’s overall performance by not providing them a platform with quality education. Rather, the policy is interpreted in a way that can be used and abused so that the student can survive yet another systemized program in education.

Reference:

Top issues facing higher education in 2014. https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnebersole/2014/01/13/top-issues-facing-higher-education-in-2014/#5ed99a527489

 

 

 

 

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  1. This is an interesting read, coming from someone with experience at a higher institution abroad. I must say, as someone who studied abroad, there really is a lot of emphasis on strict policies that serve little purpose, if at all. I feel that these are simply political and can often take up the institution’s resources, depriving it from potential creativity and effectiveness.

    1. Yes! I’m sure you can relate as well from your experience at AUK. Too much administrative work that can actually serve as a disadvantage.

  2. Thank you for sharing your experience. Don’t you think that if these policies were decided with students, faculty and administrators around the table, the results would be much more effective and adapted to students’ needs?

    1. That would be a good idea! Listening to the students needs and concerns would be the best way, but I doubt this will happen. Educational institutions are too systematic right now.

  3. “Another policy that worked through is the Re-assessment policy. So to explain this further, this is policy provides a second chance for students to sit through an assessment they already failed.” The reassessment may penalize the student, but since it is extra work, we can argue that it is just an extra effort that will take a student to a passing grade. Therefore this situation seems to be still influenced by a comparison between students and the concept of competition among students.

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