The article examines the emerging paradigm of total quality management and summarises its underlying theory and principles. The relationship between quality assurance and total quality management is discussed with reference to ISO 9000. Higher education institutions are aligned with a service organisation model and the resultant implications for the development of a TQM culture are outlined. These issues include the emphasis on a team ethos, a greater focus on the marketplace, the identification of customers, the pursuit of continuous improvement and the strengthening of feedback linkages from the environment. Potential problems with the adoption of such service sector models are mentioned in the context of scholarship and the commercial quality terminology of “zero defects” and “right first time” thinking.
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