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 18 June, 2021 , © Lee Harvey 2004–2021.


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Quality control

core definition

Quality control is a mechanism for ensuring that an output (product or service) conforms to a predetermined specification

explanatory context

Quality control usually involves a process of testing outputs.


Quality control is also sometimes used loosely to refer to any form of quality evaluation but this usage is confusing.


Control in the sense of quality control sense is distinct from the concept of control as a purpose of external quality monitoring or evaluation.

analytical review

Green, stated that quality control is ‘testing the product or service to see whether it meets the standards [i.e. precise specification] set and rejecting those that do not conform’ (Green, 1994, p.13), while in the same volume, Melia was rather more general when stating that ‘quality control embraces the methods used to maintain and enhance quality’ (Melia, 1994, p. 40).

QualityGurus (2011) states:

Quality Control is defined as “The operational techniques and activities used to fulfill requirements for quality”.

It adds:

Quality Control is the process involved within the system to ensure job management, competence and performance during the manufacturing of the the product or service to ensure it meets the quality plan as designed.

In Hungary, quality control is defined in Higher Education Act (2000 amendment) as follows:

Quality control: examines the compliance of the operation of the higher education institution with the prevailing provisions of law and with the documents of the higher education institution from legal, economic and educational - professional points of view. (Szanto, 2003)


The ETF (1998. p. 12) defintion is:

Quality control: Like evaluation, but stressing the internal measurement of quality of a unit. Often used synonymously with quality management.


The Tempus (2001) definition focuses on satisfying customer needs in an economical way:

Quality Control – includes all the execution procedures and actions undertaken in order to fulfil the demands for quality products or services tailored to suit the final users’ needs. The aim is to reach a satisfactory, appropriate, economical and reliable quality.


Another view relating directly to higher education quality introduces threshold levels rather than specification:

Quality control: Aggregate of measures taken regularly to assure quality of a unit, but the emphasis is on assuring that a prescribed threshold of quality is met. (Campbell & Rozsnyai, 2002, p. 134)


Within a university context:

Quality Control: How a university determines that the management of its teaching and learning and assessment activities is working as planned and intended, to verify that such activities are carried out satisfactorily. This includes feedback systems. (University of Aberdeen, 2002)

associated issues

End-of-process checking

The notion of quality control has, for about the last 15 years, been regarded as an unsatisfactory way of ensuring quality. It is seen as and end-of-process solution and, as such, as consigning responsibility for quality to a particular group of workers (quality controllers) rather than having it as the responsibility of everyone.


Fraser, in discussing quality control, noted:

Clearly every enterprise needs to have a system to check whether the raw materials it uses, the products it makes, or the services it provides, reach minimum predefines (threshold) standards, so that the sub- standards can be rejected. Long ago, industry learnt that this form of quality of the product or service was not their responsibility, that it did not matter if a substandard product was passed to the controllers, and that improving quality was not their concern. Industry, therefore, introduced the concept of quality assurance. (Fraser, 1994, p. 105)

Another education-based view of quality control states:

Quality control means teachers’ responsibility relating to curricula, standards, values and organisation. (Kisuniene, 2004)


For Vlãsceanu et al. (2004, p. 49):

Quality Control: A phrase that refers to the process of quality evaluation that focuses on the internal measurement of the quality of an institution or a programme. It refers to a set of operational activities and techniques (monitoring activities and a structured internally planned and implemented policy) elaborated and used to fulfil requirements of quality. Often used interchangeably with quality management and quality assurance, it refers to an aggregate of actions and measures taken regularly to assure the quality of higher education products, services, or processes, with an emphasis on assuring that a prescribed threshold of quality is met. It aims both at monitoring the process and at eliminating certain causes generating an unsatisfactory functioning. Sometimes a minimal quality control (mostly in the shape of some kind of certification) exists serving as a filtering mechanism in confirming that a higher education institution is fulfilling minimal agreed upon quality requirements and has appropriate quality monitoring procedures in place.

related areas

See also




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.

European Training Foundation (ETF), 1998, Quality Assurance in Higher Education:  Manual of Quality Assurance in Higher Education: Procedures and Practices (Turin: European Training Foundation).

Fraser, M., 1994, ‘Quality in higher education: an international perspective' in Green, D. (Ed.), 1994, What is Quality in Higher Education? pp. 101–111 (Buckingham, Open University press and Society for Research into Higher Education).

Green, D., 1994, ‘What is quality in higher education? Concepts, policy and practice', in Green, D. (Ed.), 1994, What is Quality in Higher Education? pp. 3–20 (Buckingham, Open University press and Society for Research into Higher Education).

Kisuniene, G., 2004, Quality Assurance: Priority of the Education Reform. Originally at, accessed 22 April 2006, not available at this address, 3 February 2011.

Melia, T., 1994, ‘Inspecting quality in the classroom: an HMI perspective' in Green, D. (Ed.), 1994, What is Quality in Higher Education? pp. 38–45 (Buckingham, Open University press and Society for Research into Higher Education).

QualityGurus, 2011, Difference Between Quality Assurance And Quality Control: The summary of discussions at, February 2011. Document QM001, available at, accessed 28 August 2012, still available 1 July 2019.

Szanto, T.R., 2003, ‘Hungary – Higher Education' in Educational Evaluation  around the World  An International Anthology p. 103 ff (Copenhagen, The Danish  Evaluation Institute) ISBN 87-7958-132-3.

Tempus, 2001, Glossary of the terms related to quality assurance Development of Quality Assurance System in Higher Education (QUASYS) Tempus Joint European Project, UM JEP-16015-2001 , accessed 28 August 2012, still available 1 July 2019.

University of Abeerdeen, 2002, Academic Quality Guide: Section 2: Quality Assurance in Higher Education: an Overview, last modified, 15 May 2002. The handbook has been revised and Section 2 is now available at, updated 2010, accessed 2 February 2011. However, the entry on quality control is not visible 24 January 2012.

Vlãsceanu, L., Grünberg, L., and Pârlea, D., 2004, Quality Assurance and Accreditation: A Glossary of Basic Terms and Definitions (Bucharest, UNESCO-CEPES) Papers on Higher Education.

copyright Lee Harvey 2004–2021

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