Pacific Qualifications Advisory Board Meeting- Opening remarks by EQAP Director Dr Michelle Belisle

Photo: EQAP Director Dr Michelle Belisle welcomes the Pacific Qualifications Advisory Board which began its two-day meeting at the SPC Nabua Campus this morning. The board’s new chair is Dr 'Uhilamoelangi Fasi, seated to Dr Belisle’s right. Papua New Guinea’s representative Dr Francis Hualupmomi is pictured right.   

Opening remarks at the Pacific Qualifications Advisory Board Meeting

Delivered by Dr Michelle Belisle, the Director of EQAP

Good morning and first of all, welcome to this two-day meeting of the Qualifications Advisory Board. I struggle a bit this morning with the right name for this board, and all for very positive reasons. The original name was the PRQS Advisory Board, established as part of the Pacific Register of Qualifications and Standards project. When this Advisory Board was first brought together, heads of national qualifications authorities provided advice to the PRQS project on the issues of the day. From that start, the qualifications work has become embedded within the EQAP business plan and work program and includes, among other things, quality assurance and micro-qualifications so we are now the Qualifications Advisory Board as PRQS Advisory Board doesn’t quite do the scope justice.

It is wonderful to see the representatives of the national accrediting agencies and governments here this morning. Even though EQAP’s focal point in the countries has always been the Ministry of Education, the regional quality assurance work requires the support of national accrediting agencies. This Advisory Board was established during the PRQS project to ensure EQAP’s work on quality assurance is supported and informed by the experience and advice of the national agencies. Since 2009, the support for regional quality assurance in higher education in the Pacific has been an on-going activity of the Qualifications Unit and the input and advice from national accrediting agencies provides focus and direction to the support provided by the unit.

With that in mind, as well as welcoming you here today, I will also take the opportunity to thank you and your governments and agencies for your ongoing support of both the PRQS project and more broadly, the regional quality assurance work. The effective delivery of EQAP’s support for regional accreditation of higher education in the Pacific is dependent on the strength of collaboration with national accrediting agencies and the support provided to enhance quality assurance capacity in the region.

In that spirit of collaboration we look to you for your expertise and your active involvement over the next two days during which you will have opportunities to share updates on the progress of work on the quality assurance work carried out at the regional level and within the various countries in the region as well as to provide guidance on EQAP’s role as a regional quality assurance agency and how it could better support the member countries.

We hope that over the course of this Advisory Board meeting you will be able to discuss openly and honestly with one another quality assurance work at national level in the Pacific Island countries, the development and accreditation of regional Micro-Qualifications, the roles and functions of a regional quality assurance agency and the future direction of the Pacific Regional Quality Assurance Agency. We also hope to learn from you how we can best support that the national quality assurance agencies’ needs from within the regional quality assurance agency.

To provide for that honest and open discussion, the Advisory Board meeting will be facilitated by Dr Fasi and I take this opportunity to welcome Dr Fasi and thank him for sharing his expertise with us.

As you can see by the agenda there is a considerable amount of ground to cover but there is also time for networking with your colleagues built in to the program as well. This afternoon we will be joined at the end of the day by colleagues from APTC who will share a bit about a new partnership involving APTC, SPTO and SPC EQAP. Following that short session, I invite all of you to join us along with the APTC country representatives who are meeting in Suva this week, for an hour of refreshment and conversation.

But that will need to wait for the end of the day so again, welcome everyone to EQAP and to the Advisory Board meeting and I trust that the next two days will be productive and enlightening for all of us.  

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