PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to redefine quality in the context of “access” providing higher education institutions (HEIs), through a theoretical lens, in order to find solutions to the wicked problem of access vs quality and “inclusiveness vs excellence” debate in higher education (HE).Design/methodology/approachThis theoretical paper builds upon institutional theory and resource dependency theory to, first, analyse access vs quality debate and, second, provide answers to the undesirable and at times conflicting “trilemma” of scale, cost and quality in HEIs. To achieve the second objective, the paper offers a different perspective to address trilemma by proposing a synergistic coexistence between inclusiveness and excellence through “transformative” quality and learning theory.Findings“Transformative” quality uses reframing the problem, appraising culture and quality concepts, and eventually develops transformative interventions in access providing HEIs to improve their quality and enhance inclusiveness. Inclusiveness in HEIs needs to be addressed through the investigation of specific hypotheses, for which a closer examination of factors impacting the quality of access providing HEIs has been conducted. The goal is to facilitate a perfect mélange of inclusiveness and excellence in HE and, thus, create a new learning environment.Research limitations/implicationsThis paper contributes towards the access vs quality debate through transformative quality by developing transformative interventions and investigating factors affecting quality in HE.Practical implicationsThe contribution has several policy, managerial and governance implications. Addressing these implications will enable the promotion of the third mission of HE, that is, to develop graduates who meaningfully engage with the society and their profession.Originality/valueQuality and inclusiveness is a serious global problem requiring immediate attention and rigorous theory-informed frameworks. Through the investigation of specific factors and proposing meaningful interventions, this paper identifies the need to study a critical issue having global implications and investigates how it can be resolved.
International Journal of Educational Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Dec 26, 2019
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