Purpose – The common approaches to quality assurance (QA), as practiced by most post‐secondary education institutions for internal quality monitoring and most QA authorities for external quality monitoring (EQM), have been considered by many researchers as having largely failed to address the essence of educational quality. The purpose of this paper, although not meant to be exhaustive, is to review some of these approaches. Design/methodology/approach – The paper reviews the relevant issues concerning total quality management, performance indicators and EQM, the three common approaches to the QA of post‐secondary education have been reviewed. Findings – While from a pragmatic perspective these approaches have their respective reasons for existence, they can all be criticized as lacking rigorous theoretical foundations and being mainly driven by demands of satisfying external agendas (e.g. to enforce institutional accountability or compliance) instead of academic considerations (e.g. to facilitate student learning). As a result, a mismatch between the rhetoric and reality of educational quality has become a common experience of most practitioners, not only in western contexts from which these approaches were originated, but also in other cultural contexts that have adopted them uncritically. It is undeniable that the overall quality culture within most post‐secondary education systems worldwide, as currently manifested, tends to favor the institutional aspects rather than the student aspects of the quality issues, and tends to lean more on the accountability‐led view rather than the improvement‐led view of quality assurance. Originality/value – The paper sheds some light on the quality debate in post‐secondary education.
Quality Assurance in Education – Emerald Publishing
Published: Feb 2, 2010
Keywords: Quality assurance; Total quality management; Higher education; Quality assessment; Quality culture; Hong Kong
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