Samoa Qualifications Authority ordered to accredit N.U.S. courses

The National University of Samoa (N.U.S.) has been ordered by Cabinet to refer all its higher education programmes to be accredited by the Samoa Qualifications Authority (S.Q.A.).  

Programme accreditation is the process used to evaluate an institution’s capability of delivering a course to the required standards. 

Minister of Education, Sports and Culture, Loau Keneti Sio, said there has been a longstanding issue with N.U.S. being reluctant to allow the S.Q.A. to accredit its programmes delivered in higher education.

As a way forward, Loau said a Cabinet Directive has ordered the local university to refer its programmes to S.Q.A. to undergo accreditation. 

The Minister added this is one of the factors as to why some of the qualifications obtained by students at N.U.S. are not recognised in New Zealand and other countries. 

“Programmes should be accredited by the S.Q.A. to ensure that the courses are properly delivered with the highest standards,” Loau told the Sunday Observer.   

“It’s been an issue with the previous management as they believe they accredit their own programmes but that is not how it’s done.

“S.Q.A. has to accredit programmes because it is the regulating body to do so and when students go to New Zealand, N.Z.Q.A. also has their own criteria for qualifications and accreditation.” 

Furthermore, Loau said S.Q.A. works in partnership with, Australia Qualification Authority and New Zealand Qualification Authority (N.Z.Q.A.) to recognize accredited programmes from Samoa in the countries. 

He also acknowledged that there are Certificates and Diplomas conferred in Samoa that are recognised in the overseas workplace. 

To date, there have been no Bachelors' Degrees from N.U.S. being accredited by S.Q.A. 

Attempts to get a comment from S.Q.A. and N.U.S. were unsuccessful. 

In 2015, the N.U.S. established an Academic Quality Unit division to conduct internal and external quality assurance for its programmes and courses. 

According to the N.U.S. website, as of January 2017, all pre-degree programmes at N.U.S. are subject to the S.Q.A. programme accreditation standards. 

In further stated, accreditation of degree programmes is undertaken jointly by the N.U.S. and S.Q.A. under a Memorandum of Agreement signed in 2017. 

“The N.U.S. is also pursuing international accreditation to its degree programmes with relevant accrediting authorities worldwide.” 

In June this year, Member of Parliament for Lefaga and Falease’ela, Toleafoa Ken Poutoa raised concerns brought to his attention by some graduates that diploma and Bachelor degrees qualification attained from N.U.S. are not recognised in N.Z. and Australia. 

“The students who are awarded the qualifications, whose families are then successful in the quota for New Zealand, end up having to re-take diploma or another degree in New Zealand to seek employment,” said the M.P.

“That’s because our local degrees are not recognised there.”

But Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi pointed out that the issue is not the qualification.

He said many foreign countries recognise qualifications from the local university. 

He claimed the university has afforded hundreds of local students the opportunity to get formal qualifications.

“The problem is not the university, it is the individual alone,” the Prime Minister said.

““We have our own vocational schools and on top of that we also have a Technical college from Australia that is set up in Samoa teaching different trades.

“It does not matter what knowledge and skill they have. How can they measure such knowledge if they don’t have any experience? The only substance that is looked at is the individual alone.”

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