What is MQA and its types?Chen Wan Lim
The Malaysian Qualifications Agency (Agensi Kelayakan Malaysia) or MQA is a statutory body in Malaysia established under the Malaysian Qualifications Act 2007 to provide accreditation for academic programmes offered by higher, post-secondary or tertiary education. Prior to November 2007, the role of accrediting higher education programmes was entrusted to the National Accreditation Board (Lembaga Akreditasi Nasional) or LAN and the Quality Assurance Division of the Ministry of Higher Education. The two entities were subsequently merged to form a new entity called the MQA, whose primary role is accrediting higher education programmes. The tasks and purpose of the MQA are guided by the Malaysian Qualifications Framework (MQF), which serves as a basis for quality assurance.
According to the Malaysian Qualifications Act 2007, the MQF is an instrument that develops and classifies qualifications based on a set of criteria that is agreed nationally and benchmarked with international practices and clarifies the academic levels learning outcomes and credit system based on student academic load. Additionally, the MQF also provides education pathways through which it links qualifications systematically, enabling the individual to progress in higher education through a transfer of credits and recognition of prior learning, acquired from formal, non-formal and informal learning.
There are basically three types of accreditation provided by the MQA as guided by the MQF. These are ‘Approved’, ‘Provisional Accreditation’ and ‘Full Accreditation’. There is also a fourth type of accreditation which is the ‘Self-Accreditation’.
The most basic of accreditation is the ‘Approved’ accreditation where higher education providers (HEP) in Malaysia have to obtain even before any students are recruited and the programme is offered. This basic form of accreditation is a requirement under the Private Higher Educational Institutions (Conducting Course of Study) Regulations 1997.
After the course has been approved, the HEP then applies to the MQA for its course to have a ‘Provisional Accreditation’. This step is to determine whether a programme has met the minimum quality requirements preliminary to ‘Full Accreditation’. Generally, a programme will be considered for accreditation when the first cohort students are at the final or second last semester of the programme. This is when the MQA panel assessors will carry out the audit.
Finally, a ‘Full Accreditation’ will be given after the MQA has ascertained that the teaching, learning and all other related activities of a programme provided by a HEP have met the quality standards and in compliance with the MQF. Typically a ‘Full Accreditation’ is obtained after students have reached the completion phase of their studies.
The fourth form of accreditation, the ‘Self Accreditation’ is normally granted to mature higher education institutions that have well established internal quality assurance mechanisms. To obtain the Self-accreditation status, the higher education institution needs to undergo an institutional audit, and if successful, all qualifications it offers will be automatically registered in the Malaysian Qualifications Registry (MQR). The first batch of universities invited by the Minister of Higher Education for self-accreditation was awarded the status in May 2010.