Is quality assurance in higher education contextually relative?

  • I Ntshoe
  • P Higgs
  • CC Wolhuter
  • LG Higgs


This article examines notions of quality and quality assurance in higher education. It does this by raising questions such as whether quality in higher education is the same as, for example, quality of clothing or the quality of meat in local butcheries. The article questions the assumption that if certain things, such as criteria or standards – which are measurable and quantifiable – are in place, then quality in higher education will be assured. The article uses the findings of the Changing Academic Project (CAP) to argue that quality and quality assurance in higher education have been permeated by the values and ethos of business and the discourses around efficiency and effectiveness that are driven by global competition. The Hong Kong and Singaporean cases are used as examples of policy borrowing on quality assurance. The article concludes that, given increasing private sector contribution to higher education, it has become necessary for some kind of government intervention to ensure that the higher education provided to citizens is of an acceptable quality. It also argues that quality and quality assurance have shifted from collaborative teaching and research, which promotes critical inquiry and community service, towards input/output considerations and performance measurement.

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eISSN: 1011-3487