Give Students a Voice in Institutional Quality Assurance

I spend the first moments of my mornings, as I’m sure many higher education advocacy students do, reading Alex Usher’s blog. Generally, I’m a big fan of this blog. Whether I agree with it all or not is beside the point. Usher challenges thought in PSE and forces you to think about issues that will affect your institution now and into the future. 

The other day I came across this tweet:


During my term as VPUA for Queen’s AMS I’ve become increasingly interested in data collection to understand the quality of different areas in PSE, specifically when it comes to differentiation and how institutions can strive to do better for its students.

My interest was peaked with the introduction of Bill 127 (now Bill 76) Pathways to Postsecondary Excellence, which is a Bill created, introduced, and re-introduced by Yvan Baker. This Bill focuses on the importance of data collection to assess quality of education, quality of on-campus services, and more at institutions across Ontario. 

What I really like about this Bill is that there is a lot of room for the student voice. Data collection can be done on the ground with current students filling out surveys and talking about their experiences. It’s almost like a ‘by students, for students’ approach to quality assurance.

However, this Bill is not (and should not be) the be all and end all to assessing institutional quality. The Ontario Universities Council on Quality Assurance works to improve institutional programming both in design and delivery but Usher brings up a good point. At the surface the OUCQA sounds like an organization that would stand up for the institutional quality students deserve but where is the student representation? 

We should have student representation anytime we are addressing institutional quality. Why? Because students are on the ground everyday living and learning from the education they are paying for. The Quality Council is made up of past and present professors, Deans, and Vice-Provosts’, which is everyone you need to operate a university. But it does not include the people who actually attend the University and utilize the educational programming and services.

I ‘retweet’ Alex Ushers tweet and I send a challenge to OUCQA to find a student board member (I hear OUSA has some pretty engaged and well-versed students). Engage with students at every possible level to ensure that the quality you advocate for benefits and enhances the education that we pay for.