Communicating Quality Part 1

In this, the first in a series of short articles inspired by the development of the Flinders Educational Quality Framework (EQF), we introduce the EQF and why having one is important.

Introducing the Educational Quality Framework
Flinders has a stated strategic commitment to quality and continuous improvement in its values and ethos detailed in The 2025 Agenda. To this end, a vital undertaking throughout 2018-2019 has been a comprehensive review of the academic quality ‘ecosystem’ at Flinders. Policy instruments relating to quality have been overhauled and new processes and procedures developed. What has emerged is a coherent and coordinated university-wide Educational Quality Framework (EQF). Implementation of the EQF will contribute to a greater quality culture and commitment to quality outcomes at Flinders, but in order for this to occur promotion of and engagement with the EQF is essential for “the culture and the system … to grow together in harmony” (Harvey, 2007, p. 81).

Why have an Educational Quality Framework?
Many forces influence the assurance of quality in higher education. A demonstrated commitment to educational quality and quality management has the potential to make a difference to an institution’s competitiveness in an increasingly global market and ensure accountability to external agents. Increasing the ‘bottom line’ and compliance with the national regulator are undeniable (if less than popular) influencers, but they are not the only reasons to commit to quality. Assuring educational quality in higher education has a moral dimension; what Cheng defines as “a virtue of professional practice” (Cheng, 2017). A demonstrated commitment to quality should be motivated by “love for teaching and learning, not simply of compliance to pre-determined standards and criteria.” (Cheng, 2017) In this sense, quality can be seen less as “systems compliance” (Harvey & Williams, 2010) and more “about personal care and individual responsibility aimed at making a real difference in classrooms.” (Harvey & Williams, 2010). The new EQF connects previously fragmented components in a coherent statement that defines educational quality at Flinders. With an emphasis on self-regulation that supports Flinders University as a self-accrediting authority, the key mechanisms within the EQF demonstrate a respect for academic autonomy and the centrality of the student experience. The EQF is intended to minimise excessive bureaucratisation and administrative burden, with a focus on continuous improvement. Its effective implementation relies on engagement and support from the broad University community in a “new-collegiate approach [to] the development of a quality culture of continuous improvement.” (Harvey, 1995)

The new policies and procedures aligned with the EQF will be published very soon, and once published, will be available via this link.

Anderson, J. C., Rungtusanatham, M., & Schroeder, R. G. (1994). A theory of quality management underlying the Deming management method. Academy of management Review19(3), 472-509.

Harvey, L. (2007). Quality culture, quality assurance and impact. Overview of discussions. Embedding Quality Culture in Higher Education, EUA case Studies, 81-84.

Harvey, L. (1995). The new collegialism: improvement with accountability. Tertiary Education & Management1(2), 153-160.

Harvey, Lee, and James Williams. (2010). “Fifteen Years of Quality in Higher Education (Part Two).” Quality in Higher Education 16.2, 81-113.

Ming Cheng (2017). Reclaiming quality in higher education: a human factor approach. Quality in Higher Education, 23:2, 153-167, DOI: 10.1080/13538322.2017.1358954

Probert, B. (2015). The quality of Australia’s higher education system: how it might be defined, improved and assured. Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching.

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