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A centralised software application that captures the progress of tertiary students was developed by the Pacific Community (SPC) is now available to support national quality assurance agencies across the region.
The software, called the National Qualifications Assessment System (NQAS), was initially designed to help the Fiji Higher Education Commission (FHEC) to manage the conduct of assessment and compiling of assessment evidence of learners pursuing national qualifications.
The project’s lead developer, Rukshar Khan, said the application is now available for adoption by other national quality assurance agencies across the region, as it can be customised to their respective needs.
“This application is largely modelled on our Pacific Schools Information Management System (PacSIMS), which is a centralised data management system that allows all schools within a country to maintain and share their relevant school data,” said Khan. “The NQAS is a mini-version of it.”
The FHEC rolled out the application at the end of 2021.
FHEC Director Dr Rohit Kishore said the application had streamlined a lot of their processes, allowing his team more time to focus on other aspects of their role as the regulator of the country’s higher education sector.
“The NQAS streamlines the processes around the quality assurance, delivery and graduation of learners in national qualifications,” he said. “Given that the NQAS will give us a full view of the delivery of national qualifications, FHEC can assist and enable the higher education institutions that are approved to uptake and deliver national qualifications and the learners.”
The application allowed the Commission to view the number of enrolments in any approved national qualification offered by higher education institutions. It also allows the Commission to access the assessors' evaluations and to view a complete and comprehensive history of a learner’s performance for every qualification.
Khan added that the system allows for the printing of students’ record of achievements, transcripts, validation of graduates’ data and keeps a record of learners that have completed the national qualifications.
Qualifications Team Leader from SPC’s Educational Quality & Assessment Programme (EQAP), Rajendra Prasad said it was “a very dynamic application” because the academic records of all learners studying a particular national qualification, irrespective of the institution that they study at, will be centrally kept.
“Through the application, Fiji will have up to date information on the number of qualified graduates in the different fields for which there are national qualifications,” he pointed out.
Earlier last year, when the application was first trialled, FHEC’s interim director Vijay Naidu said the application makes student transfers between higher education institutions much easier.
"It allows the students to be enrolled into national qualifications offered by institutions, without having the need to go through a cumbersome process because the student data is already in the system," he said. "This application has significantly assisted the organisation in overseeing the delivery of training programmes and supporting higher learning. "
He added that "words will never be enough to express the gratitude and the appreciation that the Commission and the Secretariat team has for EQAP and the Pacific Community".
The FHEC has, since November 2021, trained 11 higher education institutions on the use of the system to maintain student records and carry out assessments on national qualifications.