Analytic Quality Glossary
Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2004-20, Analytic Quality Glossary, Quality Research International, http://www.qualityresearchinternational.com/glossary/
This is a dynamic glossary and the author would welcome any e-mail suggestions for additions or amendments. Page updated 31 October, 2020 , © Lee Harvey 2004–2020.
Auspices is the provenance under which a quality monitoring agency (or other evaluation body) operates.
A crude classification of auspices would suggest three significant dimensions:
· whether the monitoring agency is established or empowered by legislation (law, decree, statute). Statutory agencies are usually government departments, agencies that are ultimately responsible to a government department (education, science, employment, treasury) or bodies with delegated regulatory powers;
· whether the genesis of the monitoring agency is within or outside the higher education sector. Sector-initiated agencies are often established by the Committee of Rectors or a similar organisation. Externally, initiated agencies tend to be government or state agencies or professional/employment linked evaluation agencies;
· the degree of independence of the monitoring agency, which might be measured by the extent to which agencies are expected to show allegiance to initiators, are put under pressure by funders, or are constrained in the methods and processes of operation.
For example, the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) is a crown agency empowered by the 1990 Education Amendment Act to require providers to develop and implement mechanisms that ensure they offer quality education to their clients. The government elected in November 1999 has re-affirmed the role of NZQA as the 'overarching' body for quality assurance in the post-compulsory sector. Although able to develop its own methods of working it has been heavily influenced by government policies.
The Hong Kong Council for Academic Accreditation, established in 1990 by ordinance, was an independent, self-financed organisation that reviews, validates and accredits programmes mainly on the basis of the standard of inputs.
The New Zealand Universities Academic Audit Unit, unlike NZQA, is a non-statutory agency with a governing board appointed by New Zealand Vice-Chancellor’s Committee and is paid for, in part, by fees from the universities it audits. However, although established by the NZVCC, the Academic Audit Unit in
Institutional accreditation in the
Another voluntary, non-statutory evaluation process is that established by the European Rectors’ Conference (CRE), which provides a Europe-wide, sanction-free, auditing procedure available, for a fee, to institutions on request. The use of international teams of peer reviewers and the lack of pressure from state governments affords a good deal of independence to the process.
The plethora of industry-originated, consultant-enabled, self-evaluation models provides another example of external, non-legislated evaluation. Having moved on from TQM the latest vogue in
Whether, in theory, the agency is independent the reality, in practice, will be mediated by the organisational ethos, culture, and working practices. Hence any mapping of ostensive status has to take account of the sociology of the organisation.
For example, Teaching Quality Assessment in
Thus, as a recent EC report suggests, the character of the process tends to be a different issue from, and independent of, the matter of formal ownership’ (EC, 1998, p. 7).
Although, independence is influenced by operational culture, it is also affected by both the responsibilities to stakeholders and the boundary constraints of its work. The funding, terms of reference, degree of permanency, sanctions available and political agendas all impact on the responsiveness of the agency to the pressures placed upon it.
For example, in the
The formal auspices, the culture and ways of working of an organisation and its degree of independence offer considerable opportunities for detailed comparative research, based on the sociology of organisations, of the way agencies mediate their brief in practice.
In summary, quality monitoring agencies in most countries tend to have some statutory basis especially where they have accreditation responsibilities. In many cases accreditation of institutions was formerly a government activity that has been delegated to agencies and this is also often the case with programme accreditation, especially in professional fields. The British model of professional and regulatory bodies responsible for accreditation and review is somewhat unusual. The American system of voluntary accreditation, that derives from the market system in the
Adelman, C. and Silver, H., 1990, Accreditation: The American experience, London, CNAA.
European Commission (EC), 1998), Evaluation of European Higher Education: A status report, Brussels, EC.
Harvey, L and Mason, S. with Ward, R., 1995, The Role of Professional Bodies in Higher Education Quality Monitoring. Birmingham, QHE. Reconstructed report 2014 available here.
Harvey, L., 2002, 'Evaluation for what?', Teaching in Higher Education, 7(3), pp. 245–64. Final preproof available here as a pdf.
Tysom, T. , 1998, 'The quality street to cash', Times Higher Education Supplement, 16 January, 1998, p. 48.
copyright Lee Harvey 2004–2019
copyright Lee Harvey 2004–2019