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Quality Assurance in Higher Education in Southern Africa

Challenges and Opportunities

Ephraim Mhlanga

This book attempts to explore the nature of quality assurance policies and practices in three universities in the Southern African region. It looks at how they were developed, the parties that were involved in the policy process, the implications of such processes for policy implementation, and institutional and contextual factors mediating quality assurance practices on the ground. The major aim of the book is to explore both enabling and constraining factors affecting quality enhancement in higher education in this region.
The book is based on a set of case studies undertaken at the three universities. Although they share a relatively common geographical location, the universities have different contextual environments and are at different stages of quality assurance development.


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I had the great privilege to occupy an of fice opposite that of Dr Mhlanga when we were both PhD students in the Division of Education Leadership and Policy Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand. We had two passions in common: higher education and tea, and the combination made for some long and interesting conversations. I went on to the South African Council on Higher Education as the Director responsible for com- piling policy advice and monitoring the higher education system, while Dr Mhlanga’s career took him all over the African continent conducting research and advising universities in policy matters, including the design and implementation of quality assurance systems. So while I monitored, he made it happen. As a result of his research and of his experiences in African universi- ties, Dr Mhlanga has a deep understanding of quality assurance in higher education. In this book he presents research that compares quality assur- ance policies and practices across three universities; one each in Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe. These three cases provide the basis for a rich exploration of how quality assurance policies meet practice. There are a number of interesting discussions in this book. Firstly, being a cross-country study, Dr Mhlanga is able to examine and compare the contexts of the three universities, including the social, economic and political contexts and the role that the state plays in higher education in each country. He relates the quality assurance policies and practices which emerge to these dif ferent contextual...

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