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Concept Clarification: What is Quality

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According to Harvey (Harvey, 2006) quality has a number of variations. The general meaning of quality in education is the distinctive attribute found with an education system that gives it a degree of the degree of excellence.

Quality as exceptional

The exceptional notion sees quality as something special (Harvey and Green, 1993). There are three variations on this. First, the traditional notion of quality as distinctive, second, a view of quality as exceeding very high standards (or ‘excellence’) and third, a weaker notion of exceptional quality, as passing a set of required (minimum) standards.

4.1.1 Traditional notion of quality traditionally, the concept of quality has been associated with the notion of distinctiveness, of something special or ‘high class’.

Quality is not determined through an assessment of what is provided but is based on an assumption that the distinctiveness and inaccessibility of an elite education is of itself ‘quality’. The traditional notion of quality does not judge quality against a set of criteria. One instinctively knows. The traditional concept of quality is of little value when it comes to assessing quality in education because it provides no definable means of determining quality. However, it is of enormous value in crafting reputation, which is a major indicator in the construction of league tables. The Times Higher Education Supplement international league tables, for example, are almost entirely based on reputation. Reputation itself is a function of indicators such as the history, exclusivity, and wealth and research profile of an institution.

Quality as consistency

Quality is also construed as perfection or consistency. This involves a shift from outcome standards measurement to process standards. A quality product in this sense is one that is consistent or without flaws. This notion of quality emphasises reliability and is encapsulated in two interrelated ideas: zero defects and quality culture.

Quality as fitness

It stresses the need to meet or conform to generally accepted standards such as those defined by an accreditation or quality assurance body, the focus being on the efficiency of the processes at work in the institution or programme in fulfilling the stated, given objectives and mission. Quality as fitness for a purpose can be defined as the ability to provide a satisfactory service, the ability to meet the customers’ needs and expectations

Quality as a transformation

Quality as transformation is ‘a classic notion’ of quality that involves a ‘qualitative change’ from one state to another (Harvey, 2006).

Harvey and Green (1993) noted that, in an educational setting, ‘transformation refers to the enhancement and empowerment of students or the development of new knowledge’. When related to higher education, transformation usually refers to the development and change that occurs to a student through the learning process.

Quality assurance

Quality assurance can be described as: All those planned and systematic activities to provide adequate confidence that a product or service is satisfying given requirements of quality.

Career construction

Career construction is the process of deriving a sense of self in relation to one, s work role stringer et al., 2011). Maree rephrases this by stating that individuals give meaning to their work and other life experiences. In so doing they construct their lives and career. Career counselling in this context should foster self – affirmation in their clients as they are employees who strive to find meaning in their work beyond economic reward.

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