Quality policies introduction and micro level implementation challenges: experience from three countries - Antigoni Papadimitriou, Jani Ursin, James Williams
IMHE General Conference 2012 Attaining and Sustaining Mass Higher Education Paris, 17-19 September 2012Quality policies introduction and micro level implementation challenges: experience from three countries Antigoni Papadimitriou, UiO, Norway Jani Ursin, Jyvaskyla University, Finland James Williams, Birmingham University, UK
Challenges and QAMajor change in HEQuality assurance a major element in HE – government perspectives:• Efficiency - Effectiveness - AccountabilityQAAs need to be• highly flexible• cost-effective• not intrusive (Woodhouse, 1998)QA Key concerns are:• information needs, methods for collecting information• tension between peer-review and league tables• struggle for responsibility for determining quality(Newton and Brown, 2009)“Symbolic and strategic” role of QA (Maassen and Stensaker, 2005)
ApproachResearch Question:• What do QA policies reveal about dynamics of different HE contexts and interplay between macro (EU, nation-states) and micro (HEIs) levels?Case studies of QA• Greece• Finland• UKKey themes and issues in current QA• Explore where responsibility for QA lies• Explore tensions between quality compliance and quality cultureData• Documents• Secondary literature analysis• Published research
Greece• 2005 - Greek Government established national system for QA in HE• Ministry of Education - QA process would begin in 2007 (YPEPTH, 2007, p. 12)• “Evaluation has never been an easy subject to tackle” Asderaki (2009, p. 112)• Universities encouraged to set up their own internal QA mechanisms to provide sound basis for external evaluation
Greece: Studies revealed• QA /evaluation not “easy” policy change for HE.• Generally thought that Bologna process was main driver behind development of Greek QA policy (Papadimitriou, 2011)• Until July 2011, 186 university academic departments out of 281 (65%) submitted self- assessment reports and 48 of those already participated in external evaluation (ADIP, 2011)
Finland• 1997 new University Act – universities must evaluate their basic missions• Finnish Higher Education Evaluation Council (FINHEEC) established in 1995• FINHEEC – quality audits since 2005 to evaluate whether the quality system of a HEI is: – fit for purpose – Functioning – complies with the agreed criteria
Finland: Studies revealed:• Various interpretations of ‘quality’ among academics• QA perception – various objectives that sometimes are contradictory• QA – both positive and negative consequences• QA systems include both collegial (e.g. peer review) and managerial (e.g. performance-based evaluation criteria) mechanisms• QA systems need to be adequately resourced• Interaction, communication and training are crucial, especially when QA systems are being introduced• Universities make more effort to prepare for audits than trying to enhance the quality of their basic operations (Ursin, 2007; Huusko & Ursin, 2010; Ala-Vähälä, 2011).
England and Wales• Modern QA – origins in 1980s• Massive development in 1990s with emergence of a single university sector in 1992 (Harvey, 2005)• 2011 Higher Education Act• New funding structure and new quality process taking force in September 2012
England and Wales: Studies revealed:• Perennial challenges face QA in England and Wales• ‘Quality’ – fundamental (‘what we do’) or ‘tick-box exercise’• Key distinction – quality assurance and quality improvement (Elton, 1996).• ‘Name and shame’ vs. on-going continuous improvement• Learning and teaching – focus of much work on quality.• Tension between research and teaching: good teaching only recently a criterion (Drennan, 2001).• Student experience – now a key pillar of the UK quality system (Harvey, 2003).• Quality as a transformative process for all• Attempts to engage students in quality processes• Staff – little faith in student feedback questionnaires. Compliant but not engaged in improving quality; support required• Student feedback needs to be triangulated with a range of other information.
Responsibility for QA• Quality assurance increasingly a legal requirement• Responsibility for assuring quality in HE – given by law to a central agency (a QAA).• Impact of Bologna?• Institutions are responsible for developing their own practices but not the judge of quality• Differences in approach to QA – supportive (Finland) or measurement (Greece and UK)
Compliance or genuine Quality Culture?• Is Quality about compliance or developing a quality culture?• “Legal requirements do not always ensure adoption” (Tolbert and Zucker, 1983 p. 27)• Does quality assurance lead to better university management?• Does quality assurance lead to better quality higher education?• How do you engage stakeholders in QA processes?
Food for ThoughtsSymbolic and Strategic role of QA