External quality assurance in higher education: Nigeria and South Africa

Okafor, Theresa Udumaga (2015) External quality assurance in higher education: Nigeria and South Africa. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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What is quality assurance? What is the purpose of higher education and how does it affect the way quality assurance is carried out? What value can be placed on quality assurance and could it enhance a student’s learning outcome?

This research takes a reflective and critical look at these questions amidst the disparagement of quality assurance and problems issuing from practice. Aside from definitional issues, quality assurance has not fulfilled its expected purpose, which for all intents hinges on compliance and improvement. It is hoped that understanding the prevailing interpretation of quality assurance by regulators, a better grasp of the controverted issues could emerge and a renewed understanding of the meaning of quality assurance stimulated.

Using the methods of in-depth interview and analysing relevant documents, this thesis explored the extent to which quality assurance agents in Nigeria and South Africa engage with the epistemological basis of quality assurance. I highlighted deficiencies that offer compelling arguments for reforming the mechanism. I employed an emic and etic perspective and an interpretist approach underpinned by hermeneutics.

Diametrically opposed to the essential nature of quality assurance are the external control of quality assurance and the mistaken view that quality assurance is the preserve of a particular group. Also dysfunctional is the endowment of quality assurance with attributes from industry such as appropriating the concepts of quality control and auditability. Where accountability dominates, emphasis on improvement is not given equal priority. Besides, focussing on compliance yields compliant sinners causing unethical behaviour and declining standards to be prevalent in universities and among students. Nonetheless, quality assurance is valued and has brought some improvement albeit extracted under duress. The internalisation of the essential nature of quality assurance, and not just quality as a seven –letter word or it misrepresentation as minimum standard, requires a more strategic approach.

My original contribution to knowledge is the proposal of a mechanism for quality assurance, which is neither prescriptive nor presuming upon a political mandate. Embodying the scope of what quality assurance should entail, this mechanism crystallises the internalisation of quality assurance. It provides some clarification for quality assurance and offers a proposition for future research.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: McGrath, Simon
Keywords: Quality, Quality Assurance, Employability, Purpose of Education Teaching, Learning, Accountability, Value, Mandate, Incentive, Compliance, Improvement, Learning Outcome, Consequentialism.
Subjects: L Education > LA History of education
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > School of Education
Item ID: 34463
Depositing User: Okafor, Theresa
Date Deposited: 05 Jul 2016 12:03
Last Modified: 16 Dec 2017 23:35
URI: https://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/34463

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