Quality and Power in Higher Education

By Louise Morley | Go to book overview

8

(E)quality

Quality and equality

Both feminism and quality assurance movements have attempted to deconstruct and reconstruct the academy. Both have sought for more transparency in procedures, accountability from elite professional groups and the privileging of the student experience (Morley, 1999). Both are globalized systems calling for transformation. However, it is questionable as to whether these two forces for change can form strategic alliances to challenge inequalities and social exclusions, or whether indeed they are in oppositional or indifferent relationship. The UNESCO (1998) Declaration on Higher Education included a statement that higher education ‘should promote solidarity and equity’, and it also included for equality of access. Fourth among the declaration’s 17 missions and functions of higher education is gender equity. Theoretically, quality could provide new governance frameworks through which issues of equity can be mobilized. However, equity is frequently absent, as a category of analysis in organizational arrangements for quality assurance. Blackmore (1999) argues that this may be because, compared to technologically well resourced organizations or strong leadership, equity is not such a marketable indicator of success.

However, social inclusion is a dominant policy discourse now in several national locations. In Britain, there is a policy initiative to include underrepresented groups in higher education (HEFCE, 2001). The Dearing Report (Dearing, 1997) expressed concern about the under-representation of students from socioeconomically disadvantaged groups. European Union policy documentation has discursively linked poverty, mass unemployment and social exclusion with lack of opportunities for education and training (EC, 1993, 1995). In Britain, even with the necessary entry qualifications, people from working class backgrounds are only 70 per cent as likely to enter universities and colleges as people from professional, middle class backgrounds (Reay, 1998). Social class is currently enjoying more policy attention than gender, as quantitative representation of women undergraduate

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Quality and Power in Higher Education
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction vii
  • Abbreviations xiv
  • 1: The Policy Context of Quality in Higher Education 1
  • 2: How Quality is Assessed 15
  • 3: Managing Quality 47
  • 4: The Psychic Economy of Quality 67
  • 5: Changing Employment Regimes 91
  • 6: The Micropolitics of Quality 105
  • 7: Reconstructing Students as Consumers 129
  • 8: (E)Quality 146
  • 9: Desiring Changes 160
  • References 172
  • Index 190
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