Assisting ETQAs with their assurance challenges

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Report on the work we do with ETQAs

Cecilia Cronje, Operations Manager: Assessment College

Assessment College leads the way when it comes to outsourcing ETQA work. We monitor, audit and verify providers on behalf of quality assurance bodies for accreditation and compliance purposes. We have performed more than a thousand of these activities and have built up a team of associates who acquired a vast knowledge base and experience in this field.

Over the past years we had the privilege to work with various ETQAs. This was very interesting as it brought a lot of insight into the problems and issues that ETQAs have to deal with. ETQAs face many challenges, from being under-staffed and under resourced, to coping with policies and procedures that are impractical and authoritarian.

We assisted many an ETQA with backlogs of applications for accreditation, registration and verification. Other duties included monitoring of provisionally and fully accredited providers as well as the auditing of new providers. We manage a large team (up to 20 persons) who are all experienced and trained in high level ETQA work.

Success stories

I would love to share some of these successes we have achieved working on behalf of various ETQAs.

? We recommended more than 600 assessors and moderators for registration

? In some cases we recommended more assessors and moderators in a few months than the ETQA could recommend in years

? We monitored about 400 fully accredited and 600 provisionally accredited providers across various ETQAs

? We did the desk evaluations and first monitoring visits of more than 200 new applications for recommendation for provisional accreditation.

? On average we recommended more than 80 % of the providers for the next level of accreditation.

? It was also an amazing opportunity to work with all these providers in a developmental approach in completing their applications for accreditation.

We now have a much better understanding of the fact that most ETQAs do not have the human capacity to attend to the large number of applications they receive. It must further be said that one of the factors that hamper the processing of these applications for assessor and moderator registration is the incomplete applications that are send to the ETQAs.

Issues faced by ETQAs

People applying for registration need to understand that it is important for them to complete their applications properly and to ensure that their curriculum vitas reflect their experience in the field that they are applying for. If they do not do so, this will lead to delays and the non-registration of such a person.

This is also reflected in the applications for accreditation handed in to ETQAs. Many providers fail to realize that the accreditation process is their responsibility and that it is crucial that they complete and hand in an extensive application to the ETQA.

The application should include the extent of their scope, their learning material, names and numbers of all registered assessors and moderators as well as a fully ETQA compliant quality management system.

This in itself is problematic as providers sometimes do not have the capacity to get all the items required by the ETQA in place, nor are some ETQAs in a position to assist providers in getting their quality management systems in place and implemented.

Provider issues

During these processes we also obtained deeper insight into the issues that hamper providers when applying for accreditation. We can now list common problems that most providers battle with on a day to day basis, and when they try to become accredited with a ETQA.

Sometimes the provider is a one man business and the survival of the provider is a first priority. Accreditation then becomes a secondary issue for this provider.

A typical question asked by providers is: Should we spend most of our time getting business and performing these functions to put bread on the table, or should we be spending it on the extensive and sometimes difficult accreditation process. My response to this will always be to first get the business up and running, but not everybody will share this point of view.

Even though I understand that there are specific standards that a provider needs to comply with before they can be considered for accreditation, my personal view is that it is too difficult for a provider to become accredited with an ETQA,

Short list of Criteria for Accreditation

At Assessment College we have drawn up a HACCP or Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point analysis of important items that need to be complied with to be considered for provisional accreditation. These are:

? A basic Quality Management System needs to be set up. This must include proper policies and procedures that govern the business of education and training.

? Learning material needs to be aligned to unit standards

? Assessment instruments need to be in place

? Qualified facilitators need to be available

? Assessors and moderators need to be registered or outsourced.

Conclusion

For all ETQAs that struggle with incomplete applications and providers that struggle to be heard by ETQAs it is a long road with many frustrations, obstacles and disappointments. The systems set up are too onerous and complex to handle, both from the provider and the ETQA?s perspective. Maybe if we also used the HACCP (pronounced hassip) or Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point analysis, we could make life easier for all while still being effective. (For more on this read Marietta?s article).

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