Academic journal article International Education Studies

Best Practices for Quality Improvement-Lessons from Top Ranked Engineering Institutions

Academic journal article International Education Studies

Best Practices for Quality Improvement-Lessons from Top Ranked Engineering Institutions

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

Engineering education is of the utmost important in validating the technical man power required to build a strong nation. A modest beginning for the development of engineering education in India was made in 19th century. Liberalization of economic and market policies drew to a high growth of I.T in the country (India). Although there was a dire need for engineers, the government did not fund the opening of new institutions, so as to meet the need of the market for engineers, many private engineering institutions were set up in various regions of India (Umashankar & Dutta, 2007). By 2004, India had 1267 approved engineering colleges. Out of these, 1047 engineering colleges fell under privately funded category (http//www.aicte.ernet.in). This type of non-monitored growth was responsible for a lack in quality of the engineering and technical education. Several initiatives have been taken to constantly improve the quality of the technical education, to match the demand for engineers in the fast growing technologies and industry. These include accreditation of engineering programmes by National Board of Accreditation (NBA), giving autonomy or deemed university status to selected institutions, encouraging institutions to get ISO certification, quality improvement programmes (QIP) for teachers etc. Proper training to teachers is a pre-requisite for achieving excellence in teaching (Elton, 1998). Teaching can be made effective by taking student feedback regularly and by maintaining a crux between pedagogy and self-estimation (Telford & Masson, 2005). The ISO certification has led the institutions to gain process orientation, streamline the operations and provide evidences on continuous improvement in teaching-learning techniques and the processes of administration (Burli et al., 2012).

The term "excellence" has been reflected as "the outstanding practices in managing the organization and driving it to give high results" (Karuppusami & Gandhinathan, 2006). A decade ago, the authors (Kanji & Tambi, 1999) have mentioned that the Higher Educational Institutes should work along with the concepts, principles of Total Quality Management (TQM) especially for achieving excellence. Implementation of TQM concepts, principles and techniques is considered as the primary step on the road to excellence (Van der Wiele et al., 2000). Benchmarking and Quality Management Systems are some of the tools and techniques recommended in TQM philosophy (Besterfield et al., 2003). Gotzamani and Tsiotras (2002) explain that ISO 9000 is a subsystem of TQM. Organizations achieve success by implementing the concepts of ISO as well as TQM. These two complement each other and contributes to the organizational success in its own way. For example, TQM contributes by insisting on continuous improvement and ISO by insisting on creation and adherence to the things stated in various documents (Magd & Curry, 2003). Managers exist at different levels in every organization. The management's involvement and guidance in quality must be visible at all levels and it should be visible remarkably at higher levels (Calvo-Mora et al., 2006). Vora (2002) conveyed that quality management is un-achievable without the involvement and commitment of the higher level management. Higher Educational Institutes (HEIs) will be able to fulfil their mission in providing skilled manpower for industries only when the top management exhibit their leadership effectively (Bush, 2003). Petrov (2006) mentioned that the nature of leadership in higher education is indefinite and disputed because of the organizational intricacy, the multiple goals and the old-fashioned ideals of the university. Enough resources will automatically be allocated to quality improvement when the top management of a college is committed to quality (Karuppusami & Gandhinathan, 2006). The three types of facilities that contribute to the quality in an engineering college are (i) learning environment that includes classrooms with proper teaching aids located in academic blocks, well equipped labs, and space for social gatherings (ii) facilities like library and computer center that support learning (iii) other facilities like hostel blocks, medical facilities and student services (Harvey, 2003). …

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