The first edition of the Benchmarking Framework for Online, Open, Smart and Technology-enhanced Higher Education was announced at the 14th Innovation Arabia Conference and Exhibition held virtually on 22- 24 February 2021.

Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and President of HBMSU, Innovation Arabia 14 was organised under the theme “Innovation Everywhere” to address contemporary issues and spread a culture of innovation throughout the world.

Innovation Arabia 14 featured a series of scientific presentations, webinars, round tables and workshops in the fields of quality and business management, learning, health and environmental studies. H.E. Dr. Mansoor Al Awar, Chancellor of HBMSU, said, “The event is being held at an exceptional time as the world is currently in need of effective and innovative solutions to address current issues; explore future prospects and unleash the potential that Arab countries possess so that we can use it in the move towards social and economic growth, especially now that we are facing the impacts and repercussions made by COVID-19.”

One of the highlights of the conference was the announcement of the Benchmarking Framework for Online, Open, Smart and Technology-enhanced Higher Education at the opening ceremony. The framework had been developed by experts of the international consortium of prominent international associations and universities, such as Commonwealth of Learning, Association of Arab Universities, Asian Association of Open Universities, UNESCO-ICHEI, European Association of Distance Teaching Universities and other institutions of higher education.

The first edition of the Benchmarking Framework comprises six dimensions and 39 indicators as well as evidence and data sources that can be used to demonstrate achievements. They reflect unique characteristics of online and open learning and include factors such as creation of innovative e-learning experiences, global engagement of a diverse faculty, rich content development and agile delivery mechanisms; outcomes and impact on society, and others. The Framework will assist online and open universities in quality assurance and self-assessment, emphasize exemplary levels of quality and improve the credibility of online higher education.

The consortium welcomed its two new members – The Open University of China and Universitas Terbuka, and announced the beginning of the implementation phase. The initiative seeks to establish and promote a common understanding and criteria for quality in technology-enhanced higher education and facilitate sharing of best practices, taking into account the rising need for quality assurance in online education and aspiring to facilitate the achievement of SDG 4.

The consortium is open to welcome new members from all regions of the world as well as policy-makers, experts and observers from international organisations to facilitate the work and provide for global cooperation. For more information about membership, please contact: