Quality Assurance

The Government of Papua New Guinea’s (GoPNG) affirmed of its commitment to the higher education sector, by passing he Higher Education (General Provisions) Act 2014 (HEGPA) (link). This provides a legislative framework for the regulation and quality assurance of all post-secondary higher and technical education including universities, public and private higher education institutions and church agency higher education institutions in Papua New Guinea (PNG). The HEGPA requires all such institutions to be registered and/or quality assured. The legislative framework also requires that the programmes delivered by these higher education institutions are accredited and/or quality assured.

The HEGPA has tasked the Department of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology (DHERST) with responsibility for the administration of the HEGPA. As part of the administration of the HEGPA, DHERST has been entrusted with the responsibility of regulating all post-secondary and higher and technical institutions, the registration and/or quality assurance of these institutions as well as the accreditation and/or quality assurance of their programmes.

To strengthen the unification, reformation and transformation of the higher education system, DHERST has developed a Quality Assurance (QA) Framework to guide its approach to regulating and assuring quality across these institutions and their programmes. The application of the QA Framework ensures that quality is established and maintained across all aspects of a higher education institution’s operations. The QA Framework further provides higher education institutions with information on DHERST regulation and quality assurance activities.

The QA Framework also spells out the two arms of support DHERST provides to higher education institutions to improve the quality of their education and training as well as to meet all regulatory requirements and obligations.

DHERST Quality Assurance Framework
The QA Framework sets out the protocols for DHERST in undertaking its quality assurance activities and is aimed at ensuring that the Department’s approach to regulation of higher education is two-pronged. DHERST will therefore work towards:

(1) Safeguarding the quality and reputation of higher and technical education and training PNG
The QA Framework is intended to serve as a guide to ensuring that higher education institutions in PNG have structures in place to ensure that students receive quality education and training that prepares them for the workforce. These structures are characterised by appropriate:
• learning and teaching resources;
• student support and student services;
• financial viability;
• infrastructure; and
• governance and management frameworks and organisation.

To further ensure quality education and training, higher education institutions can expect to undergo context driven, sector specific or professionally required QA or regulatory activities. These QA and regulatory activities are led by other agencies.

In administering its regulatory and quality assurance functions, DHERST recognises the differences between the various higher education sectors . The QA Framework acknowledges these differences and has developed a tailored approach to the regulation of higher education institutions based on the specific sector. Hence, DHERST’s approach to its regulatory requirements will consider the circumstances of a higher education institution in relation to its sector.

The operationalisation of the QA Framework is based on fulfilling the requirements outlined in the following:
• Higher Education (General Provisions) Act 2014 (link)
• Papua New Guinea National Standards for Higher Education Institutional Registration (link)
• Papua New Guinea National Standards for Higher Education Programme Accreditation (link)
• Papua New Guinea National Qualifications Framework (link)
• DHERST Higher and Technical Education Strategic Implementation Plan (2017 – 2038) (link)
• Papua New Guinea Vision 2050 (link)
• Papua New Guinea Strategic Implementation Plan 2010 – 2030 (link)

(2) Supporting higher education institutions to meet their regulatory requirements and
obligations towards students
The QA Framework outlines the support DHERST will provide to higher education institutions. DHERST acknowledges these regulatory requirements being placed on higher education institutions may initially be challenging for some institutions and that in order for these higher education institutions to meet these requirements, support and guidance from DHERST is required.

Principles that underpinned the QA Framework
The DHERST QA Framework is underpinned by the following principles:
• The quality of education and the needs of students are central to the operations of all higher education institutions;
• Higher education institutions adopt a cyclical approach to quality, reviews and other regulatory activities;
• Ensuring quality in higher education institutions is the shared responsibility of DHERST, higher education institutions and other related stakeholders;
• All DHERST regulation and quality assurance activities of higher education institutions will be benchmarked against international best practice; and
• Regulatory activities are transparent, fair and customised to meet the needs of the different education sectors.

DHERST QA Activities and Higher Education Institutions
In line with the QA Framework, higher education institutions can expect DHERST to:
• Provide QA audit guidelines to higher education institutions intending to register their organisation and courses with DHERST;
• Provide a pre-audit checklist for institutions to undertake an internal audit prior to the formal external registration assessment of the organisation and planned courses;
• Conduct site visit to institutions to meet with students and staff;
• Inspect institutional infrastructure and resources;
• Inspect learning and teaching resources; and
• Request reports, data and information from higher education institutions.

In undertaking these QA activities, DHERST will take into consideration the:
• the higher education sector type;
• the size and the age of the individual higher education institution;
• the scope of programmes delivered by the higher education institution; and
• the regulatory history of the institution.

In the conduct of the QA activities, DHERST will utilise the services of a Panel of Experts that consist of both local and international professionals and industry experts.

The table below details the key QA activities that DHERST will undertake which is further elaborated in the DHERST Manual for Institutions of Quality Assurance Requirements (link):

Sector DHERST QA Activities

• Conduct quality assurance reviews every five years
• Conduct thematic or other sector-wide related reviews
Public Higher Education Institution (TVET, Teacher Colleges, Nursing Colleges and other Specialist Colleges)
• Assess applications for the establishment of public higher education institutions
• Conduct quality assurance reviews every five years
• Accredit higher education programmes for a period of up to five years
• Renew programme accreditation for a period of up to five years

Private Higher Education Institution and Church Agencies
(TVET, Teacher Colleges and Nursing Colleges) • Assess applications for initial registration of private higher education institutions
• Assess applications for the renewal of registration of private higher education institutions for a period of up to five years
• Accredit higher education programmes for a period of up to five years
• Renew programme accreditation for a period of up to five years

All Higher Education Institutions, including universities
• Monitor performance
• Collect key information and data
• Conduct thematic reviews
• Investigate complaints

DHERST Support to Higher Education Institutions
To support Higher Education Institutions, DHERST will:
• Conduct information sessions, training seminars or workshops;
• Publish information documents and guidelines; and
• Engage in dialogue with higher education institutions, interested parties, members of the public and any other stakeholders.
• Include all QA documents including registered Higher Education Institution and related programmes on the DHERST website

Additional Information

DHERST Panel of Experts
As per the requirements of HEGPA, DHERST has established a Panel of Experts to assist in its QA activities. The Panel will support DHERST in registration, accreditation and other quality assurance activities. The Panel consist of local and international experts who will provide advice to DHERST as required.

Review of DHERST QA Framework
DHERST will undertake a review of the QA Framework within three years of its implementation. Feedback from higher education institutions and other stakeholders will inform the review.

Further information
For further information regarding the DHERST QA Framework, please email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.