The Concept of “Quality in Higher Education”
Dr. L.H.Bagalkot 1. Some General Considerations
It is extremely difficult to spell out what determines the quality of education in general. The quality of education has ever been a matter of subjective consideration than any concrete, measurable objective entity. Indeed, it does refer to certain physical aspects like buildings, equipments, library, play ground and laboratory etc. But, many intellectuals do not give importance to such material items. They stress upon the very objective of teaching and learning. In their opinion, that education should be treated qualitatively good which transforms the personality of the learners in every good respect. They emphasise on the process of “man making”. In their view, the material aspects of education – in terms of posh buildings, big playground, latest laboratory equipments, numerous books in the library etc. are wasteful if the education does not inculcate high values and morals.
Indeed, the views of educational philosophers on “Quality of Education” are meritorious and hence they need deep contemplation. However, such ideas are rather non-tangible and also difficult to measure. Therefore, they are just respected and they should be substituted by more concrete and practicable concepts. Even then, it is extremely difficult to specify what constitutes “Quality in Education”. There are divergent views on quality of education. Many people think that the material and human inputs in the process of education makes it qualitatively superior. But, many others consider that this is very narrow concept of quality of education. While discussing the problem of defining “quality of education, in an acceptable manner”. Dr. Beeby (1979)1 suggested that “quality may be viewed as qualitative change which can be understood as a simple linear expansion or diminution of a current practice of what already exists. It may be an addition to the existing buildings, increased number of teachers and students, improvements in examination systems etc.” This definition by Beeby captures changes in the functioning of the educational institutions. It does not just count the material inputs available in the institutions.
However, many others argue that “the quality” has to be seen with reference to the objectives of teaching and learning. For instance, a traditional Vedic institute – aiming at imparting ancient knowledge of Vedic literature and rituals – need not aim at posh building, play-ground, laboratory etc. In this sense, the quality of education does not denote the infrastructural items, but the end result of the process of teaching and learning. It may be further noted that all concepts of “quality” have deep socio-cultural roots. J.P.Naik(1975) 2 has rightly pointed out that “quality can be defined both on an egalitarian and in-egalitarian basis, according to the value premise one adopts.” Viewing quality from this perspective will have definite implications for the measures to be adopted for evaluating the quality of the education-system as well as for evolving strategies for further improvements in it. Such an approach has to seek strategies that combine quality and equality. In brief, the concept of quality in education is multi-dimensional. Therefore, it is necessary to adopt a practicable view of quality of education which can be put in practice. It is rightly observed that, “the quality of education is not a self born, non-relative or non-obstructed concept.”3 It changes as per time and space. It is so flexible that it is difficult to give any unique definition of it. Here, we should take into account (i) its suitability with time-space-and-situation, (ii) its multifold aspects in relation to social process and (iii) its utility for keeping the life unified and dynamic. One can present several illustrations to substantiate the above idea. For instance,...
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