Malaysia's National Accreditation Board (LAN in its Malay acronym) was established in 1997 in the midst of the country's dramatic policy shift towards massification of higher education. It was responsiblefor governing the standard and quality of private higher education. Quality in the public universities was the responsibility of the Quality Assurance Division (QAD) of the Ministry of Higher Education.
But this duality was meant to be temporary. LAN was an experiment in preparation for a unified quality system of national higher education credentials: a single interconnected qualifications architecture framed around and premised upon competency standards, which brings into a common platform academic, professional, vocational, technical and skills qualifications, private and public. In November 2007, the Malaysian Qualifications Agency, MQA was launched to take up the responsibility.
The MQA succeeds LAN, not replace it. The migration from LAN to MQA represents a movement into "the next phase" - a maturing process, if you like - in the evolution of quality assurance of Malaysian higher education, in tandem with domestic and international developments.
Its functions expand, but its core business, and its dreams, remains the same: to quality assure Malaysia's higher education to inspire the confidence of stakeholders in it, and to push the boundaries of quality enhancement to make Malaysia's higher education comparable with the best in the world.
The MQA is the guardian of the Malaysian Qualifications Framework (MQF). The MQF is Malaysia's declaration of its higher education qualifications and their quality. It classifies qualifications based on a set of nationally agreed and internationally benchmarked criteria that clarifies academic levels, learning outcomes and learner academic load. It integrates all national qualifications and provides pathways that link them systematically.
With increasing cost and global access and competitiveness, students, parents, employers and funders demand to be assured of the quality outcomes of higher education. Indeed the demand has gone beyond fulfilling threshold minimum requirements but to exceed them. It is critical for institutions of higher learning to embrace the language of quality and to make quality and standards as institutionalised and routinised components of their provision. Ignore quality and we will be ignored.