WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) Staff Liaison and Vice-President, Dr Maureen Maloney during workshop with Working Group 2.
The University of the South Pacific (USP) in its efforts for continuous institutional improvement, witnessed a successful inaugural visit of the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) Staff Liaison and Vice-President, Dr Maureen Maloney from 11-14 October 2016 at the Laucala Campus in Suva.
The WSCUC is a US-based, regional accrediting agency in charge of institutional accreditation. It serves a diverse membership of public and private higher education institutions throughout California, Hawai’i and the Pacific and few institutions outside of the US.
The purpose of the visit was to allow Dr Maloney to establish an understanding of USP and to see how USP is placed in relation to the four WSCUC standards of accreditation and 39 criteria for review (CFR).
One of the key features of the visit was the workshops conducted by Dr Maloney for the four (4) Working Groups, in which she highlighted points for each CFR under a particular standard.
She also advised on the suitability of evidences required for minimal and substantial compliance to these standards, which result in Candidacy and Initial Accreditation status, respectively.
The Working Groups have been carrying out preliminary self-review under the WSCUC standards and identifying relevant evidences that are currently present and major gaps to be filled. The workshops were effective as they allowed Dr Maloney to review the work carried out and provide feedback.
Dr Maloney commended USP for the things done well and areas where WSCUC could learn from USP. The University’s work on quality assurance, which addresses some of the CFR for standard four (4) is one such area.
She stated that it is important for USP to provide evidences on how it addresses the standards and CFR in a manner that is authentic to USP. Furthermore, she stressed the need to carry out practices that ‘close the loop’ and demonstrate how data is used to improve all our practices.
As regional campus representatives on the Working Groups, Dr Irene Taafaki from Marshall Islands Campus, Dr Seán Donlan from Emalus Campus and Mrs Ruby Vaa from Alafua Campus were also present at the Laucala Campus during Dr Maloney’s visit.
Their presence allowed Dr Maloney to better understand the regional contexts and for USP staff to learn about WSCUC expectations for off-site campus locations and distance education. This was further discussed during Dr. Maloney’s session with the regional campus directors.
At the conclusion of the visit, Dr Maloney shared her findings in terms of commendations and glaring gaps, which USP will need to address in preparation for the accreditation visit.
Members of Working Group 2 during the workshop with Dr Maureen Maloney.
The dates of the visit will be confirmed by WSCUC at a later stage. The Accreditation Liaison Officer and Deputy Vice-Chancellor Learning Teaching and Student Services, Professor Richard Coll expressed his gratitude to Dr Maloney for a successful visit and providing an opportunity to members of USP community to learn of WSCUC requirements and expectations firsthand.
“The optimistic nature of the visit has given USP an impetus in the right direction to prepare for institutional accreditation,” Professor Coll said.
He added that Dr Maloney’s continuous support and guidance in seeking accreditation for USP is greatly valued.
The WSCUC accreditation process aids institutions in developing and sustaining effective educational programmes and assures the educational community, the general public, and other organisations that an accredited institution has met high standards of quality and effectiveness.
The University was granted Eligibility status in January, 2016. A determination of Eligibility is a preliminary finding that the institution is potentially accreditable and can proceed within five years of its Eligibility determination to be reviewed for Candidacy or Initial Accreditation status with the Commission.
During her visit, Dr Maloney met with senior administrative staff, heads of academic and non-academic sections, WSCUC accreditation working group members, regional campus directors, and students and took a tour of the Laucala Upper Campus and facilities.
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