Quality assessment and institutional change: experiences from 14 countries

Abstract

The paper draws on an international study of the effects of national and institutional quality management systems on higher education institutions in 14 countries. The study was undertaken by the authors on behalf of the programme for Institutional Management in Higher Education (IMHE) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Over the last decade, almost all European countries have established national systems for the assessment of quality in higher education. Similar developments can be found in many other parts of the world. In most countries, these developments have been largely sponsored by the state even if the national quality agencies so formed generally have a significant degree of operational autonomy and mainly use a form of peer review as their primary assessment method. Drawing on the IMHE study, the paper presents a conceptual model of the relationships between quality management and institutional change in higher education which takes into account variations in the national and institutional contexts in which quality management and assessment takes place as well as differences in the methods used. The impact of quality assessment is considered in terms of rewards/incentives, policies/structures and cultures of institutions. The paper argues that central to the establishment of quality management and assessment systems, whether national or institutional are questions of power and values. One of the central questions which the paper explores is the extent to which quality management represents a challenge to the intrinsic value systems of the academic profession and is a mechanism through which extrinsic values of society and economy are given greater weight in academic institutional life. Changes in the balance of power within academic life between system, institutional, basic unit and individual levels are explored as part of more general processes of institutional change

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Last time updated on 26/02/2014

This paper was published in LSE Research Online.

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