– Higher education quality assurance dilemmas

By the 1990s the concept of quality assurance had became a central concern of higher education institutions around the world. This was partly due to how Government funding and policy increasingly pointed to a market driven imperative in public education (e.g. Marginson, 1997; ACE, 2004; Teixeira, Jongbloed, Dill, & Amaral, 2004; Rani 2004). Such a view was related to the associated notion of the ‘user-pays principle’ (Johanes, 2004). In other words, the emergence in many countries of what some refer to as ‘academic capitalism’ (Slaughter & Rhodes, 2004) represents a developing link between a general imperative of privatization in all (including public) higher education and the growing dilemmas and challenges to ensure that the private sector of higher education retain some kind of public accountability.

This paper will report on the design and development of a possible framework for sustainability within one particular project context – a commissioned project to come up with a new upgrading standards framework for the Malaysian higher education private sector. It will discuss the transferable implications of this project outcome beyond the local context as a possible prescription for: (a) the quality assurance ‘shifting ground’ which increasingly challenges higher education policy-makers around the world, and (b) some of the enduring notions which obstruct the achievement of sustainable policy (e.g. residual assumptions such as ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to quality assurance standards). It will therefore investigate the convergent requirements of achieving a sustainable ‘win-win’ quality assurance framework for the higher education sector in terms of the growing imperative of privatization in diverse and changing times.  FULL PAPER HERE