Firstly, apologies for the lack of an update for some months. This autumn we’ve seen significant changes at BAC which have led to some blips in our regular activities. I’ll fill you in. In October, Tony Evans, who joined us in March, decided to leave BAC for pastures new. Our Inspections Manager, Christina To, also left us in October. However, on the plus side, we were fortunate in being able to welcome, Gary Lee, as our new Operations Manager, on 6 October. I’m sure you’ll appreciate that October and November have been extremely busy months for us. So, who’s writing this blog, you might be asking! My name is Sheila Needham and I’ve been the Chief Inspector at BAC since 2009. The charity’s Trustees have asked me to hold the fort, as Interim Chief Executive, until a new Chief Executive is recruited. The process is already underway and the Trustees are hoping that a new CEO will be in post by Easter 15.

So, to use my ‘five minutes of fame’ wisely, I’ll update you on what BAC has being doing since you last heard from us. The first two phases of our major project in Bahrain are coming to an end. We have designed the new accreditation framework for Higher Education institutions and this has been approved by the Higher Education Council. The new framework will be launched in January 2015. A considerable amount of work has been put into this project by both BAC and HEC and it’s great that this has paid off. BAC is negotiating further collaboration with HEC so the launch could be the beginning of another phase and not the end of the project.

In July, we submitted our application for full membership of ENQA (European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education) and we’ll be welcoming a panel of experts from across Europe who will be conducting the onsite visit on 9 and 10 December. We’ve been preparing for the visit for the last couple of months, including organising twelve meetings with various stakeholders over the two day visit. Some of our accredited institutions and their students will be meeting the panel. After putting institutions through rigorous BAC inspections for over 30 years, it’s good for us to be on the receiving end for a change! We hope, if successful, that membership will present us with opportunities to play a greater role in enhancing quality in FE, HE and training internationally and will raise not only our profile but that of our accredited institutions too.

Work has resumed on the construction of a new website, but until that is ready, Gary is working on revamping the current one.  We post industry and BAC news on our twitter account so be sure to follow us @BAC_Education

In recent weeks we’ve been active on the conference circuit, attending the UK NARIC annual conference and showcasing BAC at the Study UK conference. We’re planning to hold some joint events with Study UK in the New Year so keep an eye out for these.

On the social front, Gary and I will be attending the celebrations of the National Day of the Kingdom of Bahrain on 15 December at the Dorchester. The following day, it will be afternoon tea at the Malaysian High Commission to meet with representatives of other accrediting bodies, principally the Finance Accreditation Agency who are hosting the event.

The office Christmas lunch has been booked for next week so the important preparations for the festive season are well underway! The office will be closed over the Christmas and New Year period from Wednesday 24 December to Friday 2 January (inclusive).

Thanks for taking the time to read this. I hope it is of interest. It only remains for me to wish you all a very happy and enjoyable holiday and to say that I hope that for you and your families, 2015 gets off to a great start!

Best wishes