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Unpacking the broad spectrum of quality assurance in higher educational institutions

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Quality Assurance in the broad sense is defined as “a wider concept that covers all policies and systematic activities implemented within a quality system.” (Business Dictionary, Quality Assurance [Internet], http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/quality-assurance-QA.html#ixzz3lt6qs1p5.

It is within both product and service driven industries that proper procedures and rules are followed to ensure that customers receive the expected value for money.

However, is quality assurance (QA) valued on the basis of the final outcome?

As part of Mancosa [GSB]’s higher education series, academics from Durban University of Technology (DUT), Regent Business School (RBS) and MANCOSA were invited to a round table discussion on unpacking quality assurance in higher education. Confusion, compliance, control and development were words that lead the discussion, as academics debated and aired their views as they drew from industry experiences and set procedures.

QA1

“You can’t invest in a poor quality machine and expect a high quality product. QA needs to be developed and should be regarded as an outcome gained through learning the proper processes in any organisation. From experience most tertiary institutions will comply with this project through establishing a committee, then four sub-committees to develop a plan or respond to the audit requirements. While this process is likely to generate interesting discussion and debate about practices and processes, it is unlikely to drive any meaningful change because at most, the committees will suggest operational improvements. Strategic changes which affect outcomes, processes, structures and resources are outside the mandate of most committees, because those changes live beyond the reporting cycle (and life) of the committee. In light of this, I argue that quality should be a business imperative, lead from the top, lived by all staff, not only a status awarded through a certification.” argued Dr. Preeya Daya; Academic Regent Business School.

QA2

She was challenged by her colleague, Mr. Ahmed Shaikh, Managing Director of Regent Business School, who adopted a different view to the topic as he debated that quality assurance is not a skill that can be developed but rather aims archive quality assessment systems that puts the student needs at the center primarily and pays greater attention to outcomes rather than process.

QA3

MANCOSA Academic Vartikka Indermun, commented on the discussion as follow: “Being a part of the discussion series helped me broaden my perspectives on both quality assurance as a broad topic and quality assurance within higher education. I found the dialogue to be interesting and thought provoking.”

 

In concluding the discussion, many new avenues of quality assurance were brought to light. By including diverse views and facts on quality assurance within South Africa and international educational institutions, it seems that QA standards are constantly reviewed to ensure that both product & service delivery industries are leaning toward improvements.

The question however still remains, is there a set standard for Quality Assurance in any industry?

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