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2013, Cilt 3, Sayı 3, Sayfa(lar) 193-199
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DOI: 10.5961/jhes.2013.076
Accreditation and Quality Assurance in Post Secondary Education in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Abdullah ALMUSALLAM
Secretary General, National Commission for Academic Accreditation & Assessment, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Keywords: National commission for academic accreditation and assessment, Higher education, Quality assurance, National qualifications framework, Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has a diverse system of post-secondary education, and it is expanding rapidly in response to demographic changes and increasing demands for participation. There is also very rapid economic and industrial development and increasing exposure to international competition in many areas of activity. Post-secondary education must continue to expand and standards of education and training that are equivalent to international best practice must be achieved and widely recognized. The standards must be achieved in all institutions and in all programs. These requirements have led the government to establish the National Commission for Academic Accreditation and Assessment as an independent agency for quality assurance and accreditation. The Commission has responsibility for establishing standards, supporting quality improvement, and accreditation and in all post-secondary institutions other than those in defense. Its focus will be on both quality of institutions as a whole, and the quality of education and training programs. Principles underlying the system the Commission is developing include encouraging continuing improvement rather than being satisfied with minimally acceptable standards, encouraging diversity, ensuring cooperation and mutual support among the different agencies involved and designing approaches tailored to Saudi Arabia’s traditions and requirements rather than adopting a system developed elsewhere. In doing this the Commission is drawing on the best ideas we can find elsewhere in the world, but the system we develop will be our own. Pilot programs have been conducted in two universities involving institutional and program self-studies and independent external reviews to trial and refine the procedures involved. Developmental reviews are being carried out in a number of other universities and colleges to provide experience with the new processes. Most higher education institutions conducted initial self-evaluations based on the Commission’s standards for accreditation and have prepared strategic plans for introduction of quality systems prior to the commencement of the formal accreditation procedures in 2010. This paper gives a description of what has been done and concludes with a brief summary of some significant issues and challenges that must be dealt with in the effective implementation of the new system for quality assurance and accreditation in Saudi Arabia.

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