The Commonwealth of Learning has developed the Review and Improvement Model (COL RIM) in response to two realities:

1. There is increasing emphasis internationally and around the world on the quality of higher education, which allows graduates and learners to move easily from country to country and gain recognition for their studies.

2. The high cost of conventional approaches to external quality assurance is difficult for institutions and governments to meet.

The COL RIM is designed to meet these two realities by being high in effectiveness and low in cost.

The COL RIM is for the use of management teams in post-secondary institutions. It specifically targets higher education decision makers at the institutional level. Any post-secondary education and training institution in the Commonwealth can implement the COL RIM. Participation is entirely voluntary, and there are no high-stakes consequences. Any outcomes of the review process are owned by the institution, and it is up to the institution to share information with its stakeholders. The model is suitable for institutions of all types and sizes.

This handbook explains a new approach to quality assurance in higher education. The model focuses not on what’s wrong, but on what’s right. It’s not about what external assessors think of your
institution; it’s about how the institution thinks about itself. It’s not about complying with standards; it’s about becoming a learning organisation and continuously improving performance.

The COL RIM is a self-administered approach which supports the institution in reviewing itself, with the recommended option of getting the institutional findings verified by a quality professional or even a panel of verifiers.

Implementing the COL RIM has significant implications for an institution:

  • The COL RIM is a systemic approach that crosses departmental boundaries, relying largely on the collective effort of multidisciplinary teams. The COL RIM cuts across the institution’s “silos” and encourages people to work together to solve identified challenges.
  • The COL RIM depends on strong linkages between the vision and strategic plan and leadership of the institution and its review and improvement systems. Strong, transformational leadership enables change in the institutional culture by implementing a coherent strategy in a sustained way across the institution.
  • The COL RIM offers a systemic view of the institution, based on information from multiple sources and perspectives, and it encourages holistic processing of organisational information gathered through a survey in which everyone has the opportunity to participate.
Author(s): | Dr. Willie Clarke-Okah | Ms. Alison Schmidt | Dr. Geoff Plimmer | Ms. Caroline Donovan | Dr. Nancy George | Gatsha, Dr. Godson |
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