Challenges and Opportunities
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.
Chapter 4 Context and Institutional Legacies: The Cases of the Universities of the Witwatersrand,
Zimbabwe and Botswana Introduction With few exceptions, studies on quality assurance remain silent about the political, economic and social factors that frame debates on quality and quality assurance. As a result, quality and quality assurance are dealt with in somewhat technicist fashion as a matter of specifying meanings, defining criteria and putting systems in place or just as ef forts towards standardisation of academic practice. Models and practices on quality assurance are discussed as if they are generic to all contexts, developing or developed. This does not explain, however, why certain systems and forms of quality assurance are better or more ef fective than others in particular social and institutional contexts. Neither does it provide a basis for making informed choices in this regard. Where attempts have been made to come to grips with the political and social pressures, emphasis tends to be placed on ef forts towards standardisation of practice with little contextualisation.1 This chapter discusses the unique contextual factors of the three institu- tions that were used in this study. The chapter aims to show how the per- formance of the institutions is inf luenced by the contextual factors, both in terms of the quality assurance policies developed and the actual practices on the ground. While there are common regional and global factors that inf luence the three universities under study, there are also local impera- tives that give each institution its unique identity. In order to paint a clear picture of such institutional identity, the context of...
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