Report

International trends in establishing the standards of academic achievement in higher education

Publisher
Education Higher education Australia
Description

This report presents a snapshot of international trends and activities in the setting, measurement, and reporting of academic achievement standards in higher education.

This report was prepared for the Australian Universities Quality Agency during July 2009, and presents a snapshot of international trends and activities in the setting, measurement, and reporting of academic achievement standards in higher education.

Recent initiatives in Australian higher education have focussed attention on the meaning of ‘academic standards’, and on how universities establish, measure, monitor and report on the academic achievement of students and graduates. Various projects supported by the Australian Learning and Teaching Council, for example, have formulated approaches to standards within particular fields of study (e.g. archaeology, biotechnology, and occupational therapy), and have produced benchmarking strategies based on student learning outcomes.

Furthermore, and in response to the May 2009 AUQA discussion paper Setting and Monitoring Academic Standards in Australian Higher Education, universities across the country have been debating possible national approaches to academic standards. That is, to the development of explicit and externally-referenced systems for establishing the standards of graduate academic achievement. Concurrently, the Australian Qualifications Framework has been under review, and the May 2009 consultation paper from the AQF Council included a proposal for a revised architecture based on a taxonomy of learning outcomes. 

It is timely, therefore, to survey approaches to academic standards in higher education systems beyond Australian shores. 

This paper provides analysis of a range of national and international initiatives relating to academic standards. The approach is not to evaluate these projects, but rather to illustrate the range and extent of activity in this area. The paper represents both a summary and an analysis of the types of initiatives underway, and proposes a conceptual framework to facilitate further discusssion within Australia.

The paper is structured broadly around geography, with sections on each of: Europe, the United Kingdom, Latin America, North America, and the Asia-Pacific region. The review is not a comprehensive survey. Rather, it represents a snapshot including both high profile initiatives, and others which may be less well known but which are potentially relevant to the Australian context. There is no ‘Australia’ section, as the objective here is to look outward, and to consider international and overseas trends in light of the current discussion in this country. 

The intent is that this review support continued discussion within the Australian sector regarding the way forward, and the next steps, for Australia.

Publication Details
Publication Year:
2009