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The Quality Assurance Commons for Higher & Postsecondary Education is a new group that is exploring alternative approaches to accreditation in higher education. With funding from the Lumina Foundation and through the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems, the QA Commons last week announced a pilot project to assess higher education programs at 14 institutions around the country.
The project, which features a broad range of participating colleges, including public universities and community colleges, will focus on the employability of students.
Ralph Wolff, who formerly led the WASC Senior College and University Commission, a regional accreditor, is founder and president of the QA Commons. He said the project is designed to close the gap between higher education and employers.
“Work as we know it is changing, so it’s increasingly challenging -- and important -- to ensure higher education experiences appropriately prepare graduates for the 21st century,” Wolff said in a written statement. “A growing body of evidence tells us that the so-called soft skills are the ones employers want most but struggle to find. We are calling them ‘essential employability qualities,’ because they are critical to immediate and long-term success in the world of work.”
Essential employment qualities the group will seek to gauge include:
- People skills such as collaboration, teamwork and cross-cultural competence;
- Problem-solving abilities such as inquiry, critical thinking and creativity;
- Professional strengths such as communication, work ethic and technological agility.