A 'quality' policy trajectory: from global homogenisation to localised differentiation

Year: 1997

Author: Vidovich, Lesley

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Quality' has emerged as a global theme of education policy in the drive for microeconomic reform over the last decade. This study examines the way in which policy makers in Australian higher education reconstructed notions of quality employed in other countries to develop a particular Australian program, which operated between 1993 and 1995. The study then analyzes the continuing recontextualisation of the quality policy from the ministerial level, through the Higher Education Council, and the Committee for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (CQAHE) to the site of intended policy effect - individual universities.

Stephen Ball's (1994) notion of a policy trajectory study is employed as a theoretical framework. Drawing on postmodern perspectives, he emphasises the messy realities of the policy process, including resistance, negotiation and transformation from the 'macro' context of policy production to the 'micro' context of policy practice. Policy effects are thus variable, and even contradictory, across different local sites.

This paper presents the findings of interviews with CQAHE members and with senior academics/administrators in 6 universities over two states (NSW and WA) during 1995/96, in a manner which reveals much of the 'messiness' of the quality policy process.