On 17 and 24 June 2020, the officials of AIUB-IQAC participated in two webinars organized by Council for Higher Education Accreditation-CHEA International Quality Group (CHEA-CIQG). The subject of the webinar was “The Future of Value-Based Higher Education and Quality Assurance – The Future of Academic Freedom Confirmation” was held on 17 June 2020. Sjur Bergan, Head, Education Department @Council of Europe, Marcelo Knobel, Rector @UNICAMP Brazil, Robert Quinn, Executive Director @Scholars at Risk and Hilligje van’t Land, Secretary General, International Association of Universities were the speakers during the webinar.. The webinar was focused on the academic freedom which has emerged as an issue of profound importance during the past few years, especially as we have seen changes in governments around the world. It is receiving even more attention now, given the Covid-19 pandemic and the current social unrest around race and equity. The Webinar debated the contours of academic freedom both as it relates to institutions and quality assurance: What rights and obligations are attached to it from a European, Latin American and Scholars at Risk perspectives, and how these concepts are being challenged today.
Another webinar titled as “2020 CHEA Summer Roundtable”was held on 24 June 2020. Diane Auer Jones, Principal Deputy under secretary, Delegated the duties of under Secretary, at the Department of Education, U.S., Alex Ricci, Professional Staff Member to Congresswoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Education and Labor and Mary Barry, Policy Advisor to Senator Party Murray (D-WA), Ranking Member, Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions were the presenters of the webinar. They pointed out and brought some important issues like faculty members and students can have different opinion about online classes or distance learning after the pandemic is over. But it will create new opportunities and challenges for the accreditors to ensure online learning is in the right track rather than in campus experience. Institutes can also face financial challenges due to implementation of new technology and resources for the execution of distance learning. There are tangible benefits for in-campus experience but in this pandemic period some factors like liability, law suits, flexibility of online classes and faculties who are aged are needed to be considered. Before opening the campus, institutes must make sure a public health concern if possible assuring a public health funding and need to discuss the health authorities of their concern areas. Accreditation agencies need to make sure that the institutes have the capability, technology and resources to provide online education and should be concerned about the financial fragility of an institution. Also, if a recession comes after the pandemic, the recruitment and marketing policies need to be considered.
Both of the webinars were coordinated by Judith S. Eaton, President, Council for Higher Education. She also welcomed Cynthia Jackson-Hammond, the new President of CHEA.