Analytic Quality Glossary


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Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2004-21, Analytic Quality Glossary, Quality Research International,

This is a dynamic glossary and the author would welcome any e-mail suggestions for additions or amendments. Page updated 22 September, 2021 , © Lee Harvey 2004–2021.


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core definition

Enhancement is a process of augmentation or improvement.

explanatory context

In relation to higher education quality, enhancement refers to:

1. the enhancement of individual learners; the augmentation or improvement of learners’ attributes, knowledge, ability, skills and potential.

2. the improvement in the quality of an institution or programme of study.


The implicit assumption is that enhancement takes place as a result of structured enhancement activities, be they initiated, developed an implemented internally or externally to the institution or programme. Enhancement is one of the purposes of quality monitoring.

analytical review

Campbell and Rozsnyai (2002, p. 133) define:

Quality enhancement: Procedures taken to improve quality. Quality management: Aggregate of measures taken regularly to assure quality of a unit. Emphasizes the goal to improve quality.


Harvey and Green (1993) identified enhancement as part of a transformative approach to quality, supplemented by empowerment:

Enhancing the participant: A quality education is one that effects changes in the participants and, thereby, presumably enhances them. Value-added notions of quality provide a summative approach to enhancement (Astin, 1985, 1991; CNAA, 1990; Kogan, 1986).

The UK Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA), (2006) linked quality enhancement to assurance as monitiored by agencies and stated:

Quality enhancement is therefore seen as an aspect of institutional quality management that is designed to secure, in the context of the constraints within which individual institutions operate, steady, reliable and demonstrable improvements in the quality of learning opportunities. (QAA 2006)

In the later Glossary, (QAA, undated) this has become:

The process by which higher education providers systematically improve the quality of provision and the ways in which students' learning is supported. It is used as a technical term in our review processes.

The QAA's Handbook for Enhancement-led Institutional Review: Scotland (QAA, 2003) defined enhancement as:

taking deliberate steps to bring about continual improvement in the effectiveness of the learning experience of students.

The later Glossary, (QAA, undated) states:

Enhancement-led Institutional Review: The method used by QAA in Scotland to report on quality and academic standards in higher education institutions, and which has much in common with QAA's other review methods. In particular, ELIR explores the ways Scottish institutions seek to improve the learning experiences they provide for students..

Vlãsceanu et al., (2007, pp. 72–73) argue that enhancement is a definition of quality.

Quality as enhancement or improvement: focusing on the continuous search for permanent improvement, stressing the responsibility of the higher education institution to make the best use of its institutional autonomy and freedom. Achieving quality is central to the academic ethos and to the idea that academics themselves know best what quality is.


Campbell and Rozsnyai (2002, p. 23) also see enhancement as a definition of quality:

Quality as enhancement or improvement. This concept emphasizes the pursuit of continuous improvement and is predicated on the notion that achieving quality is central to the academic ethos and that it is academics themselves who know best what quality is at any point in time.


This, of course, is not a definition of quality but a purpose of quality evaluation. Otherwise it would mean that quality, itself, is defined as ‘the continuous search for permanent improvement’!

associated issues

related areas

See also

value added




Astin, A. W., 1985, Achieving Educational Excellence. San Francisco, Jossey Bass.

Astin, A. W., 1991, Assessment for Excellence: The philosophy and practice of assessment and evaluation in higher education. New York, American Council on Education and Macmillan.

Campbell, C. & Rozsnyai, C., 2002, Quality Assurance and the Development of Course Programmes. Papers on Higher Education Regional University Network on Governance and Management of Higher Education in South East Europe Bucharest, UNESCO.

Council for National Academic Awards (CNAA), 1990, The Measurement of Value Added in Higher Education. London, CNAA.

Harvey, L. and Green, D., 1993, ‘Defining quality’, Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 18(1), pp. 9–34. Available here.

Kogan, M., (Ed.), 1986, Evaluating Higher Education - Papers from the Journal of Institutional Management in Higher Education, London, Jessica Kingsley.

Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA), 2006, Outcomes from Institutional Audit. Institutions' support for e-learning, summary and link to pdf version available at, accessed 5 March 2011, not available at this address 14 July 2012.

Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA), 2003, Handbook for Enhancement-led Institutional Review: Scotland, available at, accessed 5 March 2011, not available at this address 14 July 2012.

Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA), undated, Glossary, available at, accessed 7 January 2017, not avalable 20 June 2019.

Vlãsceanu, L.,  Grünberg, L., and Pârlea, D., 2007,  Quality Assurance and Accreditation: A Glossary of Basic Terms and Definitions ( Bucharest , UNESCO-CEPES) Revised and updated edition. ISBN 92-9069-186-7, available at, accessed 19 June 2019.

copyright Lee Harvey 2004–2021

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