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Universities without “quality” and quality without “universities”

Jim Dator (Professor, Department of Political Science and Hawaii Research Center for Futures Studies, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Manoa, Hawaii, USA.)

On the Horizon

ISSN: 1074-8121

Article publication date: 1 December 2005




To review what “quality” meant to universities historically and might mean in the future.


Written as a keynote talk for The Australian Universities Quality Forum 2004, this paper problematizes “universities” and “quality” by reviewing the way changing communication modalities have changed the meaning of the two terms over time.


After reviewing some of the literature forecasting alternative futures of universities, the paper settles on a preferred future in which all education, higher and lower, is driven by the logic, best practices, and evolving technologies of electronic games.

Research limitations/implications

The paper reveals that researchers who compare word‐based educational systems with electronic, interactive sound‐and‐image‐based systems should use measures appropriate for the latter, rather than derived from the former.

Practical implications

The paper shows that educators should take interactive electronic game methods more seriously in thinking about and planning for the futures of universities and their curricula.


This paper provides a contribution to the growing emphasis on making learning interactive, engaging, effective, and fun.



Dator, J. (2005), "Universities without “quality” and quality without “universities”", On the Horizon, Vol. 13 No. 4, pp. 199-215.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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