Stakeholders’ lived experiences of the implementation of the external quality assurance system for higher education in Namibia.
Iipumbu, Rebekka Nangula.
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Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) are known as the custodians of the quality of Higher Education (HE), and to be primarily responsible for their Internal Quality Assurance (IQA). External Quality Assurance (EQA) is promoted through Quality Assurance Agencies (QAAs); as well as Professional Bodies (PBs). This study focuses on the implementation of EQA system for HE in Namibia. This is a phenomenological study that hones in the concept of lifeworld, as it explores the stakeholders’ lived experiences in the implementation of external quality assurance for higher education in Namibia. The study explores the following: how the QAAs and PBs implement the EQA, considering the respective legislation that establish them; stakeholders’ understanding of quality assurance in Namibia; how the stakeholders experience the EQA system; the reasons why they experience the system the way that they do; as well as possible suggestions for improvement of the EQA system in Namibia. The study made use of unstructured interviews, focus group discussions, as well as documentation analysis to tap into the experiences of the stakeholders, selected through purposive sampling and following phenomenological principles. Namibia’s EQA system is characterised by multiple QA agencies; with overlapping mandates, functions, activities and non-aligned policies, statutes and ordinances. The overlaps are featured in the establishing Acts, creating a fragmented system. There is therefore, need for the amendment of the same Acts, if the system is to improve. The study also revealed that the EQA system in Namibia is dominated by negative power relations, inadequate communication amongst stakeholders, as well as a lack of staff capacity to implement the EQA system effectively. As a practical implication, the study proposed an integrated model for EQA system in Namibia, aimed at mitigating the challenges of fragmentation and nonalignment of QA functions and activities.