The concepts of quality, quality assurance and quality enhancement

Date06 July 2015
Published date06 July 2015
AuthorNoha Elassy
Subject MatterEducation,Curriculum, instruction & assessment,Educational evaluation/assessment
The concepts of quality, quality
assurance and quality
Noha Elassy
Suez Canal University, Ismailia, Egypt
Purpose – This paper aims to critically review and discuss different denitions of the concepts of
quality, quality assurance (QA) and quality enhancement (QE) in higher education (HE) with presenting
critical perspectives of the literature.
Design/methodology/approach The paper looks at literature concerns with the meaning of
quality, QA and QE, regarding HE context. It analysis and critically reviews the different denitions of
these key concepts.
Findings – This paper suggests that the concepts of QA and QE should be dealt as part of a continuum
and showed the need for both as an ongoing process in HE institutions.
Originality/value – The paper provides a unique analysis of the widely cited pieces of research
regarding the concept of quality, QA and QE. It contributes to increase the understanding of those key
concepts in HE sector, its origin and mean stream view. It outlines the importance of having a clear
understanding of these terms and highlights the difculties of having a unied denition.
Keywords Quality assurance, Higher education, Quality, Quality enhancement
Paper type Conceptual paper
The concept of quality became a well-established topic and the concept of quality
assurance (QA) and quality enhancement (QE) are widely used in the higher education
institutions (HEIs). The noticeable concern across the world about quality reects the
importance of QA issues; this interest is found in a number of international
organizations around the world. For example, United Nations Educational, Scientic
and Cultural Organization shows signicant concern with QA in education, the World
Bank, OECD and other international bodies regularly make references to QA in their
reports. Specically, the International Network for Quality Assurance Agencies in
Higher Education works as a professional association supporting the QA agencies
around the globe. The establishment of a number of regional QA organizations shows
the importance of quality issues. These regional bodies exist in diverse geographic
regions, such as the European Network for Quality Assurance, the Arab Network for
Quality Assurance in Higher Education and similar regional agencies in Asia, the
Caribbean and Africa.
This paper aims to critically review the different denitions of the key concepts of
quality and to contribute to the debates on these concepts to increase the understanding
of using them in the higher education (HE) context. The study discusses different
denitions of quality and QA in HE that have been written about in the educational
literature with a critical prospective of the widely cited pieces of research. Also, the
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
Received 21 November 2012
Revised 3 October 2013
7 December 2013
6 March 2014
25 April 2014
Accepted 16 October 2014
QualityAssurance in Education
Vol.23 No. 3, 2015
©Emerald Group Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/QAE-11-2012-0046

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