A culture for quality in higher education institutions

Year: 2016

Author: Al-Mamari, Fatema

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Higher education institutions have moved away from only serving the demand of expanding global markets by increasing the student-intake, towards a focus on providing high standards of quality in every aspect of their organisations. Until recently, structural quality management and assurance processes and regulations have been the focus of much of the quality management literature. Now there is a shift to consider the way that practices in relation to quality management in higher education have been formed and applied. This shift in focus is considering the role of cultural aspects and contextual factors in HEIs when implementing structural processes of quality management in the higher education sector. By the use of a qualitative case study, some understanding of what quality in HE is from the perspectives of different stakeholders, was developed through an exploration of the policies and practices in use in an institution of higher education in the sultanate of Oman. This was done for the purpose of exploring how a culture for quality can be driven in this type of organisations. This required collecting multiple forms of data. The first phase of the project involved selecting a number of official documents from the case-study institution to contextualise the data gathered by other instruments and refine the interview prompts and observation procedures. In the second phase, different groups of internal stakeholders from the institution were interviewed to explore the insights, perceptions and meanings the different groups assigned to quality management and assurance mechanisms. In the final phase, observation of those processes, practices and physical artefacts was conducted. This in turn served this project well in recognising how different stakeholders react to the implication of quality management procedures in their setting and provided some justifications for their ideas and behaviour. As a result of analysing data gleaned from the above procedures, some understanding of how a quality culture develops in a HEI evolved. This allowed the researcher to identify possible patterns, process and approaches to share as best practices which can be useful and relatable to similar contexts and situations elsewhere.