Assistant Professor of Education
Higher Education Institutions are frequently the focus of attention since they represent valuable resources for any country. They produce the educated men and women that often become the social, political, technological, economic, and religious leaders of the country. Because of the changes that have occurred in the restructuring of the education system as well s the wide-reaching transformation in education policy and practice in India, the above-mentioned concepts are frequently heard in discussions among educationists. Quality Assurance has become imperative for those who are concerned about the future of education in India. Without knowing what quality means, however, it is not possible to give serious consideration to Quality Assurance. Hence a short overview of a few notations of quality is offered. What is Quality?
The abstract notion of quality cannot be framed by means of a single definition or description. It is not neutral or self-evident. Quality is highly contested since people in different contexts have different understandings of what quality is a multi-faceted concept, comprising many aspects that are applicable at different levels. The meaning of the term ‘quality’ is best conveyed by the Greek word Peoteta which was used by Plato and Aristotle to single out certain characteristics that were considered to be distinctive of a thing-distinguishing it from other types. The term is also related to specific attributes of people-usually ‘good qualities’. Within this frame work, quality becomes a multi-value concept depending on the situation and also a multi-level concept involving different frames of reference in which it can be analyzed. Quality is a matter of negotiating among all parties concerned since quality will be specified by the outcomes of such negations about the expected requirements quality is not the same as ‘efficiency’ or being ‘excellent’. We can talk about good, better and excellent, but we should not talk about good quality, better quality and excellent quality.
Never an accident
It is always the result of:
• Intelligent direction
• High intention
• The wise choice between many alternatives
• Sincere effort
• Skilful execution
“Quality” in the context of higher education is bound up with our values and fundamental aims in higher education. We cannot adopt a definite approach to quality in this sphere of human interaction without taking normative position, connected with what we take higher education ultimately to be. In turn, what we take higher education to be will have implications for how we conceive of quality, how we attain it, how we evaluate our success in achieving it, and how we approve it.
The ISO 9000 concept of quality, where quality is evaluated in terms of customer satisfaction. This concept has been used by institutions, partly because it does provide a good benchmark for institution / industry which especially employs professionally trained graduates. The general feeling is that ISO 9000 is more applicable to institutions offering service-oriented training, as opposed to subject-oriented teaching. Quality should be shaped by the following four considerations: • The concept of quality is always influenced by political and economic developments • The notion of quality used in audits should be adaptable to suit the circumstances of each and every institution. • The notion of quality used in audits would typically consists of a combination if various degrees of emphasis of the deferent concepts of quality. • This openness and flexibility in the definition of quality does not, however, imply that there is uncertainty or a lack of clarity in the approach. What is Quality Assurance?...