Rosli, Ramli; Suzeini, Abdul Halim; Siti Nurani Mohd Nor, Mohd Nor; Asrul, Mahjuddin Ressang (2007) Assuring quality of higher education through internal audit: A case study on University of Malaya. In: Regional conference on quality in higher education “Quality driven initiatives: sharing good practices in higher education”, 10-11 Dec 2007, Hilton Petaling Jaya, Malaysia. (Unpublished)
Audit, a crucial process in any Quality Management System (QMS) is popularly defined as a systematic, independent and documented practice for obtaining and evaluating evidence objectively to determine the extent to which audit criteria (conformance and effectiveness) are fulfilled. In an institution of higher learning, the audit process is used to ensure that performance and effectiveness of the management of academic department activities and other supporting processes are in line with quality standards set by the institution. University of Malaya (UM) became the first public university in Malaysia to implement a QMS across all departments and faculties within the institution and being accredited for it. In December 2002, UM attained the MS ISO 9001:2000 Certification for Quality Management System and this international recognition was also acknowledged by the Malaysian Book of Records in 2006. With this certification, the Standard necessitates UM to conduct internal audit at planned intervals. During the early stages, audits were conducted every 6 to 8 months and later when the implementation of QMS had stabilized it was conducted on an annual basis. UM is a large institution and requires a considerable number of staffs to be trained as auditors; with the intention of involving them during audit exercises. In ensuring competent auditors, these staffs were sent to various audit courses. To date, UM has more than 400 trained internal auditors of which 80 are certified lead auditors. Since 2002, there have been eight internal audits conducted and the results and important outcomes of these exercises are used to continually improve the management system of the various departments in UM. However, the experience in the audit process in UM is not without challenges. Among the challenges faced included lack of cooperation from auditees and/or their representatives, audit time constraints, service period of auditors, and number of auditors. Despite these shortcomings, the audit process was able to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the management of various core processes across the institution and more importantly, some departments actually carried out self-audits indicating positive perception and general acceptance. The knowledge gained is then used to improve the management system of the departments in order to provide better quality services.
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