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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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Chapter 8 Towards an Enhanced Higher Education System in the SADC

Extract

Introduction The study on which this book is based set out to establish the nature of quality assurance policies and practices at three universities in the SADC region – the University of Botswana, the University of the Witwatersrand and the University of Zimbabwe. The question that informed the study is: What is the nature of quality assurance policies and practices in the selected universities and what are the factors that shape these policies? In pursuing this question, the study explored the quality assurance policies that informed practice in the three case universities, and the main factors that inf luenced both the development and implementation of the policies. It also sought explanations on why quality assurance is better implemented in some institutions than in others. Underlying the study was the need to unearth contextual factors that impact positively on policy and practice in the studied institutions, with possible interpolation to similar contexts within the region. Reclaiming the tools of analysis: Institutional trends Using the theoretical framework outlined in Chapter 2, striking dif ferences were discerned amongst the three case institutions. These dif ferences are brief ly summarised in terms of the purpose and the locus of power and 276 Chapter 8 control of the quality assurance system. The purpose of institutional quality assurance depicts how much self-improvement a given quality assurance system enhances. Power and control show whether a quality assurance system is internal or external to an institution, and implications on imple- mentation of policy. At the University of the Witwatersrand,...

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