The purpose of this paper is to discuss some key aspects of quality in education in the light of over 30 years practical experience of doing quality assurance (QA).
Reflection on three concepts, which are still the subject of debate, namely: “quality”; “total quality management (TQM)”; and “autonomy”.
As this is not a research paper, it presents no findings. There are some research implications, if only to deter researchers from digging up old ground. More research into the diversity of and interactions between cultures in academia might prove useful.
There are lessons to be learnt from the past. Doing quality improves quality. Talking about it or trying to impose it does not. Managers and leaders need to reflect more carefully than is their wont on the purposes and procedures of QA in education.
This paper makes a contribution to the debate about quality in education in universities and schools and suggests that a clearer understanding across the education system of the scope and purpose of QA, the nature of TQM and the limitations of autonomy might lead to better embedded and more effective continuous improvement.
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