Original Research

Quality improvement in higher education: a critical review, with reference to South Africa

R. W. Pretorius
Suid-Afrikaanse Tydskrif vir Natuurwetenskap en Tegnologie | Vol 23, No 4 | a200 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/satnt.v23i4.200 | © 2004 R. W. Pretorius | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 23 September 2004 | Published: 23 September 2004

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R. W. Pretorius,, South Africa

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In view of the controversy which characterises systems for quality assurance in higher education worldwide, this article provides a critical review of the theory and practice of quality in the higher education sector.  The state of affairs in South Africa is also reviewed, with the focus on the new system for quality assurance which is currently being implemented.  Despite good intentions, however, the new system in South Africa tends to be over-burocratic, with limited potential for deepseated change and quality improvement as a result of the focus on accountability rather than on continuous improvement. Real improvement is an internally driven process, which cannot be achieved through burocratic measurement and control.  In line with what has been experienced internationally, this article argues that a more flexible approach to the meaning of quality in the context of higher educaction is required in South Africa.  Apart from defining and assuring quality, this approach should also be directed at its improvement.  However, the point of departure has to be quality improvement, and not quality assurance and control.


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