Questions of quality: In Europe and beyond

Brennan, John and van Vucht, Frans (1993). Questions of quality: In Europe and beyond. Higher Education Report No. 1; Quality Support Centre, London.


The two papers in this report look at international aspects of quality in higher education from contrasting perspectives. The first paper, by John Brennan, looks at the various 'needs' and 'opportunities' for higher education institutions to be active in Europe and the implications for quality which they raise. It goes on to review the results of recent studies of the comparative quality of educational programmes in several European countries.

The second paper, by Frans van Vught, examines the various systems of quality assessment and assurance which have been developed in North America and Western Europe and, out of them, sets out a general model of quality assessment in higher education.
As readers endeavour to respond to the latest demands of the particular quality systems to which they are subject, many may feel less than well-disposed to 'questions of quality'. However, as van Vught points out in his paper, they are not new to higher education and can be traced back to the medieval origins of our higher education institutions. If today they are taking on a new form and being asked with a new urgency, it is perhaps a reflection of the greater visibility and centrality which a 'mass' system of higher education has in modem society. Whether the answers currently being given to the 'questions' are adequate remains to be seen.

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