Perceptions of staff on collegiality and accountability in promoting quality assurance at Helderberg College

Appollis, Jilian Rosemary (2009-03)

Thesis (MPhil (Curriculum Studies))--University of Stellenbosch, 2009.


Over the past 10 to 15 years significant changes have taken place in higher education. Higher education institutions have been influenced by globalisation, an information explosion, shifts in teaching approaches to facilitate learning and new approaches to governance. Some of these factors have had implications on the decision-making processes which were traditionally used in higher education. Amongst these demands for change, the one which has apparently presented the most challenges is the demand for accountability to the stakeholders of higher education institutions. These stakeholders include the government, students, different communities and the constituents of the labour market. In order to meet the demands for accountability, an instrument referred to as quality assurance was introduced at all higher education institutions. Many institutions resorted to adopting a managerial approach to manage quality assurance and to facilitate efficiency. In using this approach, more regulation and demands for compliance were sought. The managerial approach appeared to be more bureaucratic than the traditional collegial ethos of universities. Lecturers experienced that their autonomy was being undermined and their academic freedom restricted. Therefore they often resorted to resistance. In this study the literature overview revealed that there is a strong debate as to which approach to quality management is most suited to higher education. A case study was conducted at Helderberg College, which is a private higher education institution in the Western Cape Province. The aim of this study was to explore how lecturers reacted to the concept of quality assurance, but more specifically, which approach to quality management they preferred. The main objective was to establish what lecturers would regard as a suitable quality assurance framework that would contribute to accountability and trust. Findings from the study suggest that there is no single model for quality assurance which would suit every institution, and Helderberg College in particular. The preference indicated by staff was for a collegial approach, which may include elements of managerialism to address the demands for efficiency, whilst protecting the autonomy of the lecturers. Other elements that were identified as likely to promote trust and accountability within a quality assurance framework, were shared vision, consultation, collaboration and involvement in decision-making processes.

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