BEFORE City Polytechnic Hong Kong (CPHK) becomes a university, faculties have to be ready to design and evaluate their own courses, Professor Enoch Young Chien-ming, the acting academic secretary, says. The international trend of quality management and assurance in the business world affected tertiary institutes, he said. A quality assurance committee was reviewing internal quality. 'Our aim is to ensure all courses meet high standards, but we also want to create an environment where staff strive to better their teaching programmes,' he said. 'To get the top level of professionalism, we hold seminars, have teaching awards and have started a quality enhancement fund, which gives staff an incentive to improve.' Full-time lecturers from each faculty evaluate courses and the quality of teaching and report to the committee. 'There also is an annual review to make sure the high standards staff set out with at the beginning of the year are maintained through the course,' Professor Young said. 'Members of the UPGC will visit the campus in September next year to make sure the institute is coping with self-accreditation. 'We have made progress getting the ground work done and establishing committees that will oversee quality. Now, we have to make sure the 'mechanisms' work.' Although it was hard to define a quality course, Professor Young said the term often was confused with another concept - standards. 'There are courses that have high standards but are poor in quality,' he said. 'The committee wants to promote a quality culture and get staff interested in providing quality assurance rather than setting out laws for quality control.' Commitment to using the best possible teaching methods and giving students the best courses already existed among faculties but the committee wanted to co-ordinate staff, Professor Young said. 'After several meetings, the committee realised quality could not be improved and everyone had to work together,' he said. 'We asked staff what they thought was the best way to improve courses.' The institute only employed professional and highly qualified academics and members of the committee ensured lecturers were appointed in their chosen fields, he said. Induction courses were held for new staff to get acquainted with functions of the polytechnic and gave an idea of high standards. 'Ensuring quality programmes goes further than staff assessment and development training,' Professor Yung said. 'It is important to raise the level of awareness of everyone on campus for the need of excellence after self-accreditation to maintain quality. 'The UPGC will be watching the institute closely after it becomes a university and the polytechnic will have to prove it can live up to its reputation of providing quality education. 'Keeping quality is not just to give students a good education. It is being demanded by local business and industry sectors which employ graduates.' Apart from academic staff from each faculty and the college of higher vocational studies, three members from the polytechnic's board and two student representatives serve on the quality assurance committee.