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IQR Case Study: A View from Macao

Connie Loi, Coordinator for Hotel Management and Tourism Event Management Programmes, Macao Institute for Tourism Studies (IFTM)

The Macao Institute for Tourism Studies (IFTM) is nestled in Macao, a city with a truly tourism-driven economy on the southeastern coast of China. We’re the only public higher education institution (HEI) solely dedicated to the provision of hospitality and tourism-related education in Macao, and so we (and Macao itself) have a vested interest in delivering quality education. For us, securing global accreditation from a reputable quality assurance agency such as the UK’s Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) was one of the best ways to achieve the level of quality we want.

IFTM has developed a strong network in Europe throughout our 25 years, partially attributable to Macao’s colonial past, and this led us to choose a quality assurance agency that has a high standing both in Europe and internationally. Being an observer of the Asia-Pacific Quality Network (APQN), we knew that QAA would have a sound knowledge of the way higher education operates in this part of the world.

As a result, we went through QAA’s International Quality Review, and were proud to be the first HEI in the world to successfully complete the process in 2017. Last year we passed the mid-cycle review and our validity was further extended to 2022. We also received international accreditation for successfully completing the IQR. The entire process was smooth and transparent, following a set of clear guidelines.

What are the benefits of IQR and international accreditation?

It will be different for everyone, of course, but we are very much motivated by the best practices identified in the IQR report; in particular to those pertaining to our interactive relationship with industry partners, effective organisation of internships, and the high-level of student engagement in our quality assurance process. At the same time, we have received useful suggestions for areas which can be enhanced.

In summary, International Quality Review provided us with a guided journey to self-evaluation, bringing the following benefits:

  1. Identification of our strengths and weaknesses by external experts
  2. Help to ensure the right resources are in place for continuous improvement
  3. Enhanced reputation, competitiveness and global image
  4. Assurance to students and parents that the programmes offered meet international academic standards, giving added confidence.

These benefits are pivotal to the long-term development of any HEI. In the case of IFTM, we can further expand our network, both locally and internationally, as our institution’s reputation, competitiveness and global image have been endorsed by a globally-recognised quality agency. IFTM currently has 113 non-local partners spread across 34 countries and regions, six of which are in the UK.

As IFTM moves towards a new milestone, marked by the launch of postgraduate programmes and the recently revised Institute Charter, we will continue to honour our mission statement of becoming an 'international tertiary institution of choice for tourism and service industry studies' by seeking global accreditation and quality assurance for both new and existing programmes. After all, quality is at the heart of education and it should not only be performed, but also be assured.