Interview with the New Lead Assessors of AUN-QA!

By Tan Wanxuan, AUN Intern
14 December 2020

AUN-QA is thrilled to announce the appointment of two new lead assessors, namely Dr. Mohd Nizam Ab Rahman from the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, and Dr. Rowena L. Escolar Chua from the University of Santo Tomas.

Professor Dr. Mohd Nizam Ab Rahman
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), Malaysia

“When you like your job, things become much easier!”

Finding great enjoyment in doing assessments, Dr. Rahman is also currently the lead auditor for ISO at UKM, and he indicates that he neither feels the pressure nor thinks of his job as an assessor in AUN as a hassle, but rather, he relishes in being in a constant search for areas to improve on, especially when it comes to continuous quality improvement (CQI). In fact, coming from an engineering background, he opines that “the scientific method of input process and output greatly helps on how we can translate their goals as lead assessors,” and it is the different methods of the process which aroused his desire to explore new forms of strategic management. As he puts it, “when you like your job, things become much easier.” Indeed, it is certainly a fulfilling experience working as an assessor for Dr. Rahman!

When asked about his thoughts on his new appointment, Dr. Rahman extends his gratitude and appreciation to the AUN-QA team and his university for their constant support, and ascribes his success to Dr. Shahrir Abdullah and Dr. Tan Kay Chuan, who motivated and encouraged him to take up the position. With greater responsibilities to undertake, he depicts the new role as an interesting opportunity to further challenge himself, as he details that being a lead assessor not only requires him to be more focused, but also calls for one to adopt better time management and preparation.

In his advice to junior assessors, Dr. Rahman highlights the key points to conducting an assessment well. Besides fulfilling prior commitments, he also points out that it is essential for one to make early preparations by studying the content of the programme in advance. At the same time, he emphasises on the importance of adherence to confidentiality in the assessment processes, phrasing words in a mindful manner to prevent miscommunication, and showing respect to others. For him, even little things matter as well, such as remembering the names of those whom he had encountered!

With assessments now being conducted virtually in place of the usual local assessments due to the pandemic, Dr. Rahman also illustrates his adjustment to the new method of online assessment, commenting that the new norm has led to the discovery of new approaches. He shares that so long as one plans regularly and maintains the objective on hand, such online assessments can even introduce a multitude of benefits such as the element of flexibility since it is possible to meet anytime.

Professor Dr. Rowena L. Escolar-Chua
University of Santo Tomas (UST), The Philippines

“You learn a lot of new things by meeting people of different countries and educational practices!”

Apart from serving as an assessor at the AUN-QA, Dr. Escolar-Chua is also the Dean of College of Nursing at University of Santo Tomas (UST) and has a background in development studies and nursing. She describes her journey with the AUN-QA as an insightful and stimulating one, where she learned a great deal through meeting new people coming from the different countries around the region and exploring their local educational practices. As an avid learner, partaking in the various programmes is a rather meaningful experience for her, as she enthusiastically remarks that “you learn more when you are exposed!”

Sharing her thoughts on her new appointment, she shares that she feels privileged to be promoted to a new role and expresses her appreciation towards her teammates who have been really helpful and great role models, particularly Dr. Tan Kay Chuan, who has kindly mentored her on several occasions and provided valuable feedback. With the new role, she also anticipates acquiring further knowledge through partaking in more programmes, along with the opportunity to immerse herself in a diversity of cultures. Indeed, her eagerness to learn new things motivates her to give in her best and takes pride in her role as an assessor!

In revealing her secrets to conducting an assessment well, Dr. Escolar-Chua’s advice for junior assessors would be to always make preparations before the day of assessment such as vetting past records, and to equip oneself with knowledge of the ins-and-outs of the programme, especially if the programme involves a topic related to a different field. On adapting to the shift to assessments being conducted virtually, she highlights that using local assessments as a benchmark helps in providing her with some ideas about the online assessment. For her, having a local verifier is key as it is one way to learn more about the institutions. Like Dr. Rahman, Dr. Escolar-Chua also views that the new norm of online assessments can be effective as physical assessments with its own merits as well.