An Assessment of Past and Current Approaches to Quality in Higher Education

By Harvey, Lee | Australian Journal of Education, November 1998 | Go to article overview

An Assessment of Past and Current Approaches to Quality in Higher Education


Harvey, Lee, Australian Journal of Education


This paper argues that, despite an increasing uniformity of approach to quality monitoring, there is little analysis of the rationale behind the methods because there is little exploration of what `quality' is in a higher education context. Despite good intentions, quality monitoring has become over-bureaucratic and the potential for significant change has been hampered by a focus on accountability rather than improvement. Furthermore, the accountability focus, despite its onerous and somewhat oppressive burden, is a safe process for higher education because it does not consider the nature of learning or what is learned. By focusing on accountability, the transformative potential of quality monitoring is not fulfilled.

Introduction

`Quality' has evolved from a marginal position to being the foremost concern in higher education alongside funding issues. The evolution of quality has been one from vague concept to articulated procedures. Furthermore, there is considerable conformity of procedures across national boundaries and the tendency to a dominant model of external scrutiny of quality in higher education.

Approaches to quality in higher education in most countries have started with an assumption that, for various reasons, the quality of higher education needs monitoring. At root, governments around the world are looking for higher education to be more responsive, including:

* making higher education more relevant to social and economic needs;

* widening access to higher education;

* expanding numbers, usually in the face of decreasing unit cost;

* ensuring comparability of provision and procedures, within and between institutions, including international comparisons.

Quality has been used as a tool to ensure some compliance with these concerns. However the rationale and policy often tend to be worked out after the decision to undertake an audit, assessment or accreditation process has been made. Thus approaches to quality are predominantly about establishing quality monitoring procedures.

The organisation, degree of government control, extent of devolved responsibility and funding of higher education systems vary considerably from one country to the next. However, the rapid changes taking place in higher education are tending to lead to a convergence towards a dominant model for quality. This model is one of delegated accountability. Central to this process is the emphasis placed on quality as a vehicle for delivering policy requirements within available resources.

Delegated accountability

External quality monitoring (EQM) is not restricted to one or two types of higher education system. It can be found in all types of higher education systems, including:

* the `Continental model' of `centralised-autonomy' found in much of western Europe including Italy, France and Austria;

* the `British model' of autonomous institutions also found throughout much of the Commonwealth;

* `market systems' such as the United States of America and the Philippines;

* `semi-market' systems such as Taiwan and Brazil;

* centralised systems such as China;

* newly devolved systems such as those in eastern Europe, the Baltic states and Scandinavia.

The development of most EQM systems has been as a result of a pragmatic response to government mandates, and systems adapt and respond to changing situations. However, within this fluid situation, some common themes emerge, suggesting a convergence to a dominant form of accountable autonomy (Figure 1). The systems that have traditionally espoused a market approach and those that have been influenced by the traditional British system of autonomous institutions supported by the state are finding their autonomy being eroded by government-backed requirements to demonstrate accountability and value for money (Bauer & Kogan, 1995). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

An Assessment of Past and Current Approaches to Quality in Higher Education
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.