Remote Inspections

Delivering quality assurance of education providers in testing times.

Covid-19 has deeply affected the education sector but, just as our institutions continue to strive to provide quality education provision, our work and mission remain the same. Our enthusiasm, and ability, to work with institutions worldwide, in service of improving education outcomes continues unabated. Dr Lawrence Watson details his recent experiences of conducting remote inspections below.

The power of technology: undertaking remote QA review and reporting

Fortunately, remote inspection work was not new to ASIC when Covid-19 came out of the blue to test our ability to help campus-based institutions who wanted to proceed with accreditation in these challenging times. In that respect, we were possibly in a stronger position than some other accrediting bodies.

Regrettably, on several occasions, we have had to carry out large portions of planned inspection work remotely when war has intervened to prevent a visit, and a flexible approach was needed. In these situations, we combined a meeting with the management team in a safe location (Jordan and Switzerland, among others) with the remote inspection of all other aspects.

Adapting to circumstance: virtual meetings with current students and alumni from Egypt to Australia.

Thanks to recent advances in technology, during the pandemic, we have been able to take the process much further by holding key live meetings themselves remotely, particularly via Zoom, but other platforms also. I have been deeply impressed by how well our applicant institutions, both overseas and in the UK, have adapted to the remote process. Within the past week alone, I have been able to conduct two full-day inspections via Zoom of universities in Indonesia.

Screenshots of ASIC Inspector, Dr Lawrence Watson, conducting video meetings with an Indonesian University.
ASIC Chief Inspector, Dr Lawrence Watson, conducts a remote accreditation inspection of a university in Indonesia.

To be honest, even now, it astonishes me that I can have detailed, productive meetings with dozens of colleagues and students at an institution thousands of miles away without leaving the office in my house. Indeed, the experience went further than that, with both universities also inviting alumni to participate who joined us from a range of other countries where they now work, including Egypt, Oman and Australia.

Accreditation and The Quality Assurance Process: Online Inspections

With well-designed schedules incorporating video tours and sample online classes, in addition to the kind of meetings just described, it has become possible to grant accreditations valid for twelve months based on remote inspections. Apart from some on-the-ground checking, this leaves only the sampling of face-to-face classes, and confidential meetings with staff and students to enable us to move to four-year accreditation when circumstances permit. From what I have seen over recent weeks, a compact one-day visit would often suffice.

Screenshots of ASIC Inspectors delivering an online inspection of an education provider in the UK.
ASIC Inspectors conduct an accreditation ‘visit’ of a UK education provider.

We continue to be impressed by the efforts of education providers around the world in service of providing quality education provision during the pandemic and beyond. A hearty congratulations to our applicants on being so resourceful!

For more information about the process, ASIC accreditation, or questions about the ASIC Application Form, e-mail or call us during 09:00-17:00 (UK) on +44 (0)1740 617 920.

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