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ࡱ> 7 bjbjUU &7|7| kl "   8,4< FB|"!!!EEEEEEE$XH xJE ! !!!E1 OE111!  D1!E1f18+Ch J gDp  -CgDDE0FC&K1&KgD1 15th International Conference on Assessing Quality in HE July 2003, Cape Town Tensions between Fitness of Purpose and Fitness for Purpose: The introduction of a national quality assurance system in South Africa Kathy Luckett, University of Natal Abstract: This paper explores different approaches to quality assurance and to institutional audit of teaching and learning in particular. It suggests that the national transformation agenda may be pushing the South African Higher Education Quality Committee (HEQC) towards a fitness of purpose approach, whilst quality assurance managers in higher education institutions generally favour a fitness for purpose approach. The paper draws on data from a survey questionnaire sent out to all universities and technikons by the South African Universities Vice-Chancellors Association to gauge opinion on the HEQCs discussion document entitled Proposed Criteria for the HEQCs First Cycle of Audits 2004-2009 (March 2003). The paper concludes by suggesting what challenges both external and internal quality assurance systems in South Africa will need to overcome in order to ensure successful adoption and implementation of a national quality assurance system. Introduction The term quality implies excellence, yet there is no accepted or objective definition of quality. In fact definitions of quality invariably result in circular arguments. I would argue that this is because quality is a dependent concept that takes its meaning from the purpose of the good or service in question. In other words, a service or product is considered to be of high quality if it achieves its purpose effectively and efficiently and in so doing satisfies its customers or clients; that is, if it is fit for its purpose. This means that what counts as quality in higher education can never be neutral, because behind the idea of quality higher education is an explicit or implicit idea of what higher education should be for. Higher education serves a range of stakeholders, all of whom want higher education to serve purposes related to their own concerns and interests. Thus we should not be surprised that the meaning of quality in HE is highly contested or that in South Africa currently, the introduction of a national quality assurance system is proving to be contentious. A particular conceptualistion of quality (linked to a particular understanding of the purposes of HE) will always inform the operationalisation of a quality assurance system. When policies and policy instruments for an external quality assurance system are introduced, they are likely to be adopted and implemented as intended within HE institutions, only where the values underpinning the policy, and the related assumptions about the purposes of HE, coincide with the dominant values of the institution in question. Where these are perceived to threaten or challenge the dominant values of the institution, the policies are likely to be resisted and their implementation subverted by the academics concerned. Thus when determining the quality of a HEI, one can do so at two levels. Firstly, one can interrogate the purposes, goals and mission that the HEI has set for itself, and which consequently inform its conceptualisation of quality and quality assurance. If one makes a judgment about this, this is a fitness of purpose judgment. Secondly, one can assess the extent to which the inputs, processes, outputs and outcomes of the organization are indeed fulfilling their intended purposes. This is a fitness for purpose judgment. Clearly, the right to make a fitness of purpose judgment implies greater power and control by the quality assurer over the quality assured, in that the external authority has the power to interrogate and even prescribe the purposes of the HE institution concerned. In quality assurance discourse, the process whereby an external authority sets the standards and criteria (and by implication, purposes) against which it judges the quality of a particular good or service, is termed quality assessment. In distinction, the term quality audit is used to describe the activity in which an external authority checks and validates the effectiveness of an organisations internal quality management system to assure its own definitions of quality, but does not presume to make a judgment on the actual quality achieved or, by implication, on the purposes and goals that the organization has set for itself. Clearly, a fitness for purpose judgment grants greater autonomy and freedom to the organization concerned, in that it is free to determine and justify its own purposes and attendant definitions and measures of quality. In the remainder of the paper I first set up a matrix of typologies of quality assurance systems in order to analyse the debate around the HEQCs recent proposals for a policy instrument for audit. In the following section I analyse the higher education policy context in which the HEQC is obliged to formulate its policies, with a view to foregrounding the purposes that the South African government wants HE to serve. I then present an analysis of the HEQCs proposals for criteria for its first cycle of audit, with a focus on how it deals with the fitness for and fitness of conceptualisations of quality. I then present responses to this document from quality managers in the public sector. In the conclusion I make suggestions for how the internal and external parties might work together synergistically in a national quality assurance system. Conceptualising Different Approaches to Quality Assurance In attempting to analyse and plot the different positions in the current debate around the HEQCs recently proposed policy instrument for institutional audit, I have adapted Martin Trows matrix of typologies for academic reviews  ADDIN ENRfu (Trow, 1999: 19) (see Figure 1 below). In doing so, I have broadened the scope of the typologies to cater for all forms of quality assurance in higher education (i.e. at both institutional and programme levels). The vertical axis represents control and ownership of the quality assurance process with the poles indicating that this can be located externally or internally to the organization. By control and ownership, I mean specifically who initiates the evaluation, who designs it and, crucially, who determines its criteria or measures of quality. The horizontal axis represents the orientation and method of evaluation used with the poles indicating that these lie along a continuum from strongly evaluative, that is, judgment-orientated or summative, to supportive, that is improvement-orientated or formative. The supportive pole is likely to be conducted in a collegial manner, whilst the evaluative pole is likely to be conducted in an administrative manner. These different orientations of evaluation require different evaluation designs and methods to be used, for example, key issues would be whether the criteria for judgment are implicit or explicit, who is appointed to make the judgments, the weight given to self- versus other-evaluation and the consequences linked to the evaluation outcomes. Figure 1    1 2    3 4  In describing the different typologies in the four quadrants, I focus deliberately on the different power relations between the various actors involved that are implied. In doing so, I follow  ADDIN ENRfu Ulrich's (1983) critical systems heuristics which he claims is a method for making planning as socially rational as possible. The critical systems heuristics method involves identifying four social roles related to a social policy or plan; three roles belong to the involved category these are the client (which is linked to the plans basis of motivation), the decision-maker (which is linked to the plans basis of power and sources of control) and the expert (which is linked to the plans sources of knowledge). The fourth social role belongs to the affected category those who are actually or potentially affected by the implementation and outcome of the plan and will have to live with its consequences and unwanted or unintended side-effects or risks, (the affected category is linked to the plans sources of legitimation). For the purposes of this paper, I apply Ulrichs 4 social roles to quality assurance systems in HE in the following manner: The clients are the students, for, with respect to HEs teaching function, it is the assurance and/or improvement of the quality of the student learning experience that provides the motivation for the QA project . With respect to the decision-maker role, I distinguish between internal decision-makers, HE senior managers, and external decision-makers, governments and government agencies, (in the South African case, the Department of Education which has delegated authority to the HEQC as a standing committee of a statutory body, the Council on Higher Education). For the purposes of this paper, I identify internal experts as quality managers and staff who work in internal quality units, and external experts as the HEQC (in that the HEQC plays the QA expert role for the Department of Education, as quality managers do for HE managers). Academics are identified in the role of the affected, that is, they are obliged to implement the QA policies and plans, despite the fact that they have not necessarily been involved in their formulation and may not buy into their motivations, values and assumptions. However, it should be noted that, if improvement is the orientation and hoped for outcome of the evaluation, then it is the affected academics who are the key agents of any improvement. I now describe briefly the defining characteristics of the type of QA model that would be found in each of the four quadrants. Quadrant 1 represents those models of QA which are supportive in orientation and are controlled and owned internally or locally. In these models it is the affected, or those who teach, who also own the evaluation, meaning that, in the example of a module or programme review, it would be the academics who teach on the module or programme who initiate and design the evaluation and determine its measures of quality (which may remain implicit). If experts are involved, such as staff from the institutional quality unit, they do so only in a supportive role that is provided by the institution (by the internal decision-makers). If evaluators external to the programme are involved, they are appointed by the affected (the teaching staff concerned) and are usually trusted academic peers from the same discipline. The academic staff on the module or programme is also the primary audience for the findings of the evaluation which are reported in a diagnostic and advisory manner. The method employed is usually a self-evaluation that may or may not be validated by external peers. The findings of the evaluation are owned by the staff concerned and it is usually up to them to determine whether they remain confidential or the extent of their publicisation. Normally the outcomes of the evaluation are non-threatening and not linked to any extrinsic rewards or punishments. According to  ADDIN ENRfu (Trow, 1999), this means that, at best, the evaluation of teaching in this quadrant leads to candid reflection and genuine improvement of teaching practice. If internal decision-makers are involved in such evaluations, it is usually to ensure that self-evaluations are carried out systematically and regularly and that their findings are aggregated up the system to contribute to composite institutional self-evaluations for institutional audit. Thus, in this model, the role of decision-makers is only to ensure that self-evaluations happen, that they are supported and reported and that they lead to improvements that are properly resourced, within an institutionally determined administrative framework. In this model, students are typically regarded as novices or apprentices rather than as customers or clients. Student evaluations are likely to be taken into account, but would not be accorded a heavy or stand-alone weighting; student opinion is likely to be triangulated with opinion data from other sources, usually that of external peers and from the lecturer him/ herself. According to Trow, the advantage of this type of evaluation in HE is that it emphasizes professional autonomy and responsibility and reinforces academic collegial values. There is consensus in the QA literature that the more the purpose, design, criteria and consequence of evaluation is owned by those being evaluated (the affected), the more likely they are to take its findings seriously. Thus, Trow concludes that this type of evaluation is the most likely to lead to genuine improvement. However,  ADDIN ENRfu (Trow, 1999: 21) also warns that the dangers of this model is that it assumes that academics are motivated by professional pride and ambition for status and recognition for their department or university. Evaluations in this quadrant are easily personalized and as a result may result in cover-ups or avoidances. Furthermore, they may be captured by the academic guild and lose their critical edge. QA models in quadrant 2 are controlled internally but are evaluative and summative in orientation. Such models are usually owned by internal decision-makers, HE managers, who institute system-wide quality management systems as part of their institutional management system, using QA as a lever of control or change. The focus of this type of evaluation is on the institution as a whole and senior HE managers are the primary audience. Students may be viewed as clients and customers rather than novice learners. Criteria for summative internal evaluations tend to be explicit, linked to the institutional mission and goals (self-defined purpose) and are common across the institution. Criteria are usually determined by management in consultation with QA experts, although they are usually ratified by academic decision-making bodies, such as Senates. These QA systems are usually run by the institutional QA experts, using the expertise of external peers for judgments. Depending on how this is done, they may be perceived by academics on the ground (the affected) as more or less alienating and threatening. In some cases, self-evaluations are ring-fenced and as far as possible kept formative and supportive at sub-unit levels, with only generalized and sanitized results being aggregated up for institutional reporting and summative decision-making purposes. However, according to  ADDIN ENRfu (Trow, 1999: 21), because their results are linked directly to internal decision-making and may be linked to promotions and the allocation of resources, where they feed off type 1 self-evaluations, type 2 evaluations tend to subvert them. QA models in quadrant 3 are controlled externally but are supportive in orientation. This means that they are owned by external decision-makers, such as government QA agencies. However, because they are supportive, the criteria used to measure quality are left to the institution or at least negotiated with the institution and the recipient of the evaluation is as much the institutional managers (internal decision-makers) as the external decision-makers. In the case of institutional audit, a fitness for purpose model would fit into this typology, because the purpose of HE, as defined in the institutional mission and goals, would be used to determine the criteria for measuring quality in a particular HEI. In this model, the function of the external agency is simply to establish the extent to which the internal quality management system is effective in ensuring that the institution is fit for its self-defined purpose. The external QA agency plays a supportive and expert role, similar to that of the internal quality unit (experts) working at programme level in quadrant 1, namely it provides a framework and constructive feedback on institutional QA systems to HE managers. In this sense, the external party validates, authorizes and supports internal QA processes and findings. According to  ADDIN ENRfu (Trow, 1999), the external agency can also become a repository for educational innovation and expertise which it disseminates through this advisory role. The method of evaluation typically used in this model is again one of self-evaluation validated by external peer review. However, the external peers are likely to be appointed or at least approved by the institution under review. In this model, the outcomes of the evaluation are neither punitive nor linked to resource allocation. The evaluation report is often confidential or the extent of its publication is negotiated with the evaluated institutions decision-makers. This type of QA model can serve as a stimulus to internal self-evaluation and improvement processes and can also help make institutional processes more explicit and institutionalized. However,  ADDIN ENRfu (Trow, 1999: 24) suggests that because they are external, they are often superficial and do little to add value to the self-review conducted in preparation for the external evaluation or audit. Trow also warns that this model is inherently unstable because it is vulnerable to government pressures to become more useful to government and thus to move towards the evaluative pole of the horizontal axis. Models of QA in quadrant 4 are controlled externally and are evaluative in orientation. These evaluations are owned by and reflect the concerns and interests of the external QA agency and the government to which it reports. The purposes of HE are often pre-defined by government policy and tend to emphasise goods extrinsic to the HE system such as contributing to national economic growth and labour market needs and to greater social justice. These interests feed into the external agencys definitions of the standardized criteria by which quality is to be measured uniformly across the HE system. This means that the external agency is in a position to make judgments about the fitness of purpose of an institutions mission and goals, by checking to ensure that these are aligned with the purposes and goals for HE prescribed by the government and consequently built into its criteria for assessing quality. In this model, the audience of the evaluation is the external agency and the government, and, whilst the QA method usually begins with self-evaluation, even this tends to be other-directed and therefore persuasive and defensive rather than open and honest. In this model, self-evaluation reports are often compiled by full-time QA experts under the supervision of institutional decision-makers and as such can become remote from life in the classroom. Models of QA in this quadrant often view students as customers or clients and the expert peers appointed and trained by the external agency to make summative judgments are often defined very broadly to mean other HE stakeholders such as employers or professionals, as well as the disciplinary peers recognized by academics. The outcomes of the evaluation are summative and judgments are usually made public and have direct consequences linked to accreditation, funding, status, reputation, etc. In other cases, the consequences of evaluation may be indirect, in the form of recommendations to other external decision-making bodies, such as government departments.  ADDIN ENRfu (Trow, 1999: 27) critiques this model of QA as an expression of a lack of trust between governments and HE institutions. He suggests that one of its effects is likely to be a reduction of diversity in the HE system. He warns of the danger that its judgments may seem unresponsive, remote and even arbitrary from the point of view of the affected academics. In such cases, QA is unlikely to contribute to the improvement of teaching and scholarship in HE institutions. In fact, precisely because the model of QA found in quadrant 4 is not based on the inner motivations and values of academic staff and represents a shift in the balance of power away from academia and towards the state, Trow warns that such externally driven QA processes are often resisted or subverted by academics on the ground. In order to avoid such consequences, Ulrich suggests that before imposing a social plan, the involved should publicly secure the consent of the affected  ADDIN ENRfu (Ulrich, 1983: 257). He proposes that this agreement or consent be secured by the planners through rational dialogue and value clarification with representatives of the affected. For as Ulrich points out, it is only the voluntary consent of the affected that can legitimate the costs and risks imposed on them by any social policy or plan. The Policy Agenda for South African Higher Education Whilst one should take seriously the warnings of international experts such as Ulrich and Trow (quoted above) on the limitations and dangers inherent in social planning and in different QA models, the question of the appropriateness of a particular national QA system needs to be answered contextually rather than normatively. For this reason, the policy context in which the HEQCs proposed QA instrument is situated is briefly explored. Firstly I note the changing relationship and shifting balance of power between the state and higher education in South Africa. According to  ADDIN ENRfu (Hall et al., 2002: 92), the situation in higher education inherited by the new South African state in 1994 was a strange mixture of direct state control for some HE institutions and a surprising degree of autonomy for others. The six Afrikaans-medium universities and the four English-medium universities (for white students) enjoyed considerable institutional autonomy and academic freedom, allowing the English-medium liberal universities to become centres of anti-apartheid opposition. In contrast, the Technikon sector (seven for white students, two for Indian and Coloured students and five in the homelands) was under direct state control and shared a national curriculum (as it still does). The six homeland universities were also tightly controlled and were governed as an integral part of the homelands civil service whilst the two universities for Indian and Coloured students stood somewhere in-between. From 1994 until the publication of the Department of Educations National Plan for Higher Education in 2001, ADDIN ENRfu (Hall et al., 2002) suggest that, under the concept of cooperative governance in which academic freedom and institutional autonomy were guaranteed through block grant funding and an expectation of self-regulation by individual institutions, South African HE was characterized by a loose system of state steering and supervision. During this period the state hoped that the social contract established through its concept of cooperative governance would ensure that all HE stakeholders would put the greater interest of national reconstruction and development above their own particular interests. However, the inability of some HE institutions to govern themselves and the great inefficiency and wastage in the system led to a shift in the governments approach. Thus subsequent amendments to the Higher Education Act of 1997 gave the Minister of Education powers to intervene directly in the affairs of individual institutions and also to close down or merge institutions. According to  ADDIN ENRfu (Hall et al., 2002) the publication of the National Plan in 2001 marks a shift in the relation between the state and HE institutions from one of cooperative governance to one of conditional (institutional) autonomy. They argue that the state does not have the capacity to impose direct control over HE institutions partly because, together with institutions, it cannot produce the quality of information required for a rational top-down approach. Nor, they argue, would this be desirable. However, they suggest that the National Plan, the Department of Educations three-year rolling plans (in which institutional Programme and Qualification Mixes must be approved prior to offering) and the new funding framework (which makes provision for prospective funding), is a move in this direction. The state has now established a web of governance which allows it to use policy instruments such as planning, funding and quality assurance (in particular the accreditation of programmes by the HEQC) to control both the inputs and outputs of the HE system. At the same time, the states entrenchment of the rights of academic freedom and conditional institutional autonomy (in the White Paper and the Higher Education Act), is meant to afford academics a meaningful role in shaping institutional policy with respect to all matters related to teaching and research through their Senates. Hall et al explain that this means that substantive matters such as who can teach what and to whom are still under academic control, whilst procedural matters relating to enabling factors such as planning, funding and quality assurance have, since 2001, been firmly taken over by the state. Hall et als analysis of the changing nature of the state HE relationship suggests that it is particularly those institutions which enjoyed a surprising degree of institutional autonomy and academic freedom during the apartheid era and which have a tradition and culture of state opposition and critical engagement (namely the 4 historically liberal English-medium universities), that are likely, under the current government to express concerns about encroachments on institutional autonomy by the state . Whilst those institutions that historically never enjoyed such privileges or that historically have a culture of compliance, are more likely to accept as legitimate the HEQCs proposed interference. The HEQC recognizes that these historical differences have led to different approaches to QA Different histories and interpretations of quality management exist in various higher education sectors. Technikons and agricultural colleges have focused largely on minimum standards, programme evaluation and statutory compliance, whereas the universities favoured a developmental approach in which self- and peer evaluation was based on fitness for purpose, relating to the institutions mission and goals. The private provider sector has indicated a strong interest in the quality requirements of vocational education. A common understanding of and approach to quality issues are needed, which will of necessity have an influence on the development of the criteria.  ADDIN ENRfu (HEQC, 2003: 8) However, the pending institutional mergers are likely to nullify these institutional typologies and different approaches to QA. Whatever an institutions history and culture, the fact that the HEQCs policy proposals come wrapped in a discourse about transformation which includes notions of equity and social justice, makes it very difficult for any fair-minded South African supportive of the new democracy to gain critical distance and to be seen to oppose or critique the HEQCs proposals (see below). Space does not permit a detailed analysis of the policy environment in which the HEQC must design its QA system. However, a reading of key Department of Education policy documents on HE  suggests that the key values to which the government is committed and the key purposes that it has defined for HE in the post-2001 period are as follows: A commitment to national reconstruction through social and economic development in which the state is positioned as a key instrument of modernization in a global economy; which for HE means that it must become more responsive, and more efficient and more effective in its delivery. A commitment to social justice through equity and representivity; which for HE means that it must widen access and that the composition of its enrolments, graduations and staff should become representative of the South African population. A commitment to innovation, creativity and diversity; which for HE means that academic freedom and (conditional) institutional autonomy should be preserved as the conditions for these qualities to develop. I would argue that the first two value commitments and attendant purposes for HE are dominant in the Department of Educations policy discourse, whilst the third represents a subordinate discourse, almost added as an afterthought. These three value commitments are operationalised into policy goals for the HE system by a state which steers the system through indirect means; for it seeks to control outputs as well as funding inputs, and to ensure through planning and quality assurance that its goals and values are ascribed to and achieved. In this sense quality assurance is understood as a mechanism of the state for achieving the states purposes for the HE system more efficiently and effectively. However, quality per se is also used to signify a desirable goal for HE, which, linked to equity, serves as a justification for the restructuring and transformation of HE to ensure quality teaching and learning opportunities for all students, that is equal educational opportunities for all. This brief analysis of the states understanding of the purposes of HE and its attendant views on the meaning of quality and the role of a national quality assurance system are well illustrated in the following quotations from the Minister of Educations speech at the launch of the HEQC in May 2001: In the early phase of social reconstruction that we find ourselves in South Africa, the success of higher education must be judged in terms of its contribution to the achievement of social and economic goals to which we all aspire. For its substantial investment in HE, government expects the HE system to contribute to national reconstruction through producing an increasing representative flow of successful graduates with the necessary knowledge and competencies to meet the human resource development needs of our society. Inefficient, poorly governed and managed institutions which squander public resources and retard the life chances of students cannot yield high quality graduates and excellence in scholarship. The quality improvement sought by the HEQC in the domains of teaching, learning, research and community will have to dovetail with the efficiency drive which my department has already initiated through the three year rolling plan process. With the launch of the HEQC, a fundamental component of the regulatory framework for HE is now in place. The issue of high quality education is not an indulgence for the advantaged sector of the HE system or an add-on to our existing planning initiatives. It is a critical part of the transformation trajectory in HE a goal as well as developmental instrument for the achievement of social justice and economic well-being in our country.  ADDIN ENRfu (Asmal, 2001: 6-8) Interestingly, with respect to the tension between fitness of and fitness for purpose models of QA, the Minster had this to say: The HEQC will have to ensure that HE institutions achieve acceptable levels of operationality required of all institutions while striving to be the best that they can be in relation to their chosen missions. . In our drive to develop benchmarks, performance indicators, level descriptors and the like, we must be careful not to let a justified demand for accountability descend into a soul destroying over-regulation and over-stipulation of what can and cannot be done. We want a quality assurance system which guarantees at least some minimum standards but which also creates a climate for the pursuit of creativity and excellence in a way that allow for diverse mission identities and the development of an innovation mindset as well as the values of free intellectual enquiry. I will watch with great interest the HEQCs attempt to construct a quality assurance system that is necessary without being excessive or regimental.  ADDIN ENRfu (Asmal, 2001: 6-7) Finally, in the introduction to its proposals for audit criteria document (discussed below), the HEQC articulates how the governments policy agenda for HE gets into its policy instrument in order to serve the larger transformation agenda: National policy relating to higher education provides not only the broad conceptual and legislative context for the HEQCs work, but also have clear implications for the development of the HEQCs audit (and accreditation) criteria. The criteria have to be consonant with national policy documents on issues such as the purposes of higher education, national needs and challenges, issues like access, standards, etc. The criteria are, in fact, one of the main vehicles for giving practical effect to these policies.  ADDIN ENRfu (HEQC, 2003: 6) Clearly, the HEQC faces an enormous challenge: the development and implementation of a quality assurance system that will both serve the transformation agenda of the Department of Education and, if it is to be effective, also win acceptance and legitimation from the academic community. The Executive Director of the HEQC has signaled her awareness of the challenges facing the HEQC: The entry of the HEQC into HE at this particular juncture in our transition holds the prospect of it being enriched by as well as enriching the politics of restructuring in HE. Alternatively, it could end up being weak and ineffectual precisely because of the turbulence and volatility of the restructuring, the magnitude of the demands being made upon it and the paucity of resources available for its tasks. Strategic steering of the HEQC and appropriate support for its work will be critical to its success.  ADDIN ENRfu (Singh, 2000: 11) An Analysis of the HEQCs Dicsussion Document on Proposed Criteria for its First Cycle of Audits In March 2003 the HEQC released as a Discussion Document its Proposed Criteria for the HEQCs First Cycle of Audits: 2004-2009 for comment. The period for comment has now closed and the HE community await the finalisation of this policy instrument for institutional audit. The HEQC has indicated that it will finalise the document later this year once it has conducted and evaluated a series of pilot audits. Thus the comment and critique below must remain tentative as it is based on a discussion document. In this section, I highlight key features of the HEQCs document first by analyzing its position on the fitness of versus fitness for purpose debate and then by working through the characteristics of the QA model used in describing the QA typologies above. In this document the HEQC seems to be suggesting that both a fitness of purpose and a fitness for purpose approach to audit can be accommodated in the same model. For example, in the Introduction the HEQC refers back to its earlier commitment in its Audit Framework document (2002:7): The HEQC will use as a starting point criteria relating to an institutions own specification of mission and objectives. It is assumed that institutional missions will take national imperatives into account, as articulated in the Education White Paper 3: A Programme for the Transformation of Higher Education, the Higher Education Act, the National Plan for Higher Education, the Human Resource Development Strategy, and other policy frameworks.  ADDIN ENRfu (HEQC, 2003: 4) This position is further elaborated on in the Introduction: Important to note is the reality that an audit system for South African higher education will have to take broader transformation imperatives into account. Audit criteria will have to deal with how higher education institutions are engaging with the legacies of inequity, lack of opportunity and poor quality provision in many parts of the system. They will also have to address the adaptability, responsiveness and innovativeness of institutions in relation to new knowledge and skills requirements and new modalities of provision. Ultimately, they will have to enable or encourage an institution to demonstrate that it is improving continuously as a teaching, research and social institution and that it is socially responsive without compromising its intellectual identity as a higher education institution.  ADDIN ENRfu (HEQC, 2003: 3) Here the use of strong modality (will have to) repeatedly in the grammatical structure suggests that the writer believes that the HEQC has no option but to impose a strong fitness of purpose QA model on the HE system. The HEQC attempts to explain its position again in the Introduction as follows: The mission and goals of an institution provide the overarching context within which its core educational activities ought to take place (fitness for purpose). Institutional missions and goals have themselves to be determined in relation to the needs of the local and national context within which the institution finds itself (fitness of purpose). One of the functions of the audit criteria would be to evaluate the quality dimension of this link between mission and goals and an institutions local and national context. In addition to the above, institutional missions and goals have to be congruent with the purposes of higher education in general. They should also be appropriately responsive to international developments and trends in higher education.  ADDIN ENRfu (HEQC, 2003: 9) It seems to me that the HEQC is actually taking a fitness of purpose position, that is, it understands itself to be obliged to interrogate an institutions mission and goals to check whether these are aligned with national policy goals and purposes for HE; but at the same time, it does not want to go so far as to actually prescribe missions for individual institutions. Instead institutions are free to define their own goals and purposes, but within tightly prescribed parameters, namely conformity to the governments transformation agenda for HE. This fitness of purpose approach is captured in its first criterion for audit: SUB-AREA: FITNESS OF THE MISSION OF INSTITUTIONS IN RELATION TO LOCAL, NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL CONTEXTS (INCLUDING TRANSFORMATION ISSUES) CRITERION 1: The institution has a clearly stated mission and purpose with goals and priorities which are fit for its local, national and international context and which adequately provide for transformational issues. There are effective strategies for the realisation of these goals and priorities. Human, financial and infra-structural resources are available to give effect to these goals and priorities. In order to meet this criterion, the following are examples of what would be expected: i) Engagement with local, regional, national and international imperatives (including national policy frameworks and objectives) in order to establish the fitness of the mission of the institution. Involvement of internal and external stakeholders in this process ii) Adequate attention to transformational issues in the mission of the institution.  ADDIN ENRfu (HEQC, 2003: 19) The careful wording of this formulation suggests that the HEQC will insist that institutions address the national policy agenda for the transformation of HE, but exactly how they do so will still be left to internal decision-making. More generally, the HEQC defines the nature of audit according to the accepted meaning in quality assurance discourse, namely that its purpose will not be to judge quality per se, but rather to evaluate the nature and extent of the quality management system in place at an institution and to judge its effectiveness on the basis of evidence provided by the institution. Quoting from its draft Institutional Audit Framework (2002), the HEQC reminds its readers of its objectives for audit: To enable a higher education institution to assure itself, its stakeholders and the HEQC that its policies, systems and processes for the development, maintenance and enhancement of quality in all its educational offerings are functioning effectively. To enable providers and the HEQC to identify areas of strength and excellence as well as areas in need of focused attention for improvement in the short, medium and long term. To provide for consistency in quality management across the higher education sector and generate a national picture of the role of quality management in the transformation of higher education. It will also enable the HEQC to make a judgement on the overall status of quality management in higher education and monitor system level improvement.  ADDIN ENRfu (HEQC, 2003: 1) With respect to who will take ownership and control of the audits, it is interesting to note in this list of objectives the slippage in the owner and audience of the audit from the institution itself (1) and again as provider (2), together with the HEQC (1 & 2) and its stakeholders (1) to the HEQC alone in (3) where the HEQC clearly becomes the main owner of the audit. The concern to generate a national picture or the role of quality management in the transformation of HE is clearly a concern of the state rather than of individual HE institutions. The HEQC then goes on to specify specific objectives for the first cycle of audits. The HEQC is clearly setting the audit agenda here and through its specification of criteria for audit intends to signal clearly to the HE community the institutional areas in need of systematic attention in order to ensure an acceptable level of quality provision and to indicate key areas for in depth attention (HEQC 2003: ii). The HEQC makes it clear that its standardised criteria are to be, in the first cycle at least, applicable to all institutions across the system. The HEQCs rationale for this position, (which places it firmly in quadrant 4 of the QA typologies described above), seems to be that it first has to establish a base-line or threshold of quality provision across the system from which it can then begin to carry out its capacity development and improvement work. Furthermore, it states later on that criteria should be developed for the HE sector as a whole in line with the vision of a single, coordinated HE system (HEQC 2003:1). The Department of Educations vision for a single HE system which incorporates both the public and private sectors has become naturalized and is presented as a given. However, the HEQC adds a rider immediately afterwards by stating that a measure of flexibility should be built into the criteria to allow for diversity and fitness for purpose! (Perhaps here it is referring to its format for the criteria which provide for a very weak form of prescription, see below). The HEQC also presents the possibility of a more differentiated approach in the second cycle of audit in which a lighter touch will be possible for some institutions, depending on the findings of the first cycle. This suggests that, whilst the HEQC feels bound to begin its work in quadrant 4, it would like to to move across to a quadrant 3 model of QA once it has assured a threshold level of quality and accountability across the system. In an apparent contradiction of its earlier definition of the nature of audit, in describing the nature of its criteria, the HEQC suggests (2003:1) that these should serve a dual purpose, namely to make judgments about quality per se and about quality management, for both audit and accreditation and also for internal and external evaluation. This dual function is described as follows: The criteria should be useful for institutions in developing and enhancing the quality of provision in a way that advances the achievement of national goals and priorities in higher education in South Africa. They should serve diagnostic as well as improvement purposes in respect of the core functions of the institutions.  ADDIN ENRfu (HEQC, 2003: 1) It remains to be seen whether the same criteria can be used for both achieving national goals and priorities and for improving individual academics teaching practice. However, the use of the criteria for both quality and quality management systems is explained through the HEQCs rather ingenious introduction of different levels of scrutiny. The HEQC has formulated general criteria at levels 1 and 2 for ascertaining the quality of institutional quality management systems and more specific in depth criteria at level 3 for assessing the quality of provision per se. It is probably the criteria at level 3 which the HEQC believes can also serve internal self-evaluations, not of the type that would be self-defined in the quadrant 1 model, but perhaps institutionally defined criteria for a quadrant 2 model. A further innovative feature of the HEQCs format for the specification of its criteria is that criterion statements are followed by examples of what would be expected which appears to be an attempt to provide descriptors of acceptable practice, as opposed to specifying performance indicators, suggesting that the HEQC is concerned to avoid being overly prescriptive. With respect to the orientation and method of evaluation proposed in the HEQC document, the widely accepted method of institutional self-evaluation followed by external audit is proposed. What is different is the HEQCs insertion of audit trails into the audit process, which will assess actual quality in order to test the effectiveness of the institutions internal quality management system (hence the need for level 3 criteria which carry detailed descriptions of acceptable practice). The HEQC plans to appoint and train its own audit panelists and programme evaluators who will report directly to it. Although the details of the audit method remain vague as the HEQC is still preparing its audit manual and the finalizing its Institutional Audit Framework, all indications point to the HEQC following a model of QA that would fall into quadrant 4. This interpretation is confirmed by the outcomes of its proposed audits which will take the form of a summative judgment using a normative scale: good, satisfactory or not satisfactory. The HEQC rationale for this form of judgment is confusing, for reasons of transparency and as an instrument for institutional development within the framework of the HEQCs formative approach to quality management  ADDIN ENRfu (HEQC, 2003: 39). The consequences of these audit judgments are not entirely clear. It is suggested that they will be used to encourage improvement by institutions and also for summative decisions about the eventual granting of self-accreditation status (but the outcome of audit is only one amongst a number of factors that the HEQC will take into account in making the self-accreditation status judgment). It is not possible to make a final judgment on the HEQCs model of QA, for none of the documents outlining its policy instruments are yet finalized and a lot will depend on how these are interpreted and applied in practice. However, the analysis above suggests that the HEQC is proposing a model of audit that falls squarely into quadrant 4, but the wording and fuzziness in some parts of the document suggest that the HEQC is trying to hold onto some aspects of the supportive-type QA discourse, and finds itself in quadrant 4 reluctantly. There are also clear indications that the HEQC sees itself as working with the strongly evaluative and accountability model only in the short-term and that it plans to shift the system into quadrant 3 in the medium or long-term. This conclusion is based on its idea of using audit summatively as one mechanism for determining whether or not to grant an institution self-accreditation status. Presumably, once an institution has won such status, it will be free to operate in a quadrant 3 type system where the HEQC simply validates its internal quality management system from time to time . The HEQC appears to be obliged to initially carry out a thorough accountability check based on standardized minimum quality thresholds and a fitness of purpose conception of quality across the system. Once an institution has satisfied the state, through the HEQC, that it is adequately carrying out the transformation agenda, has an effective quality management system in place and can demonstrate that it can maintain minimum quality thresholds of provision, then it will be permitted to move into a more self-regulatory model of QA, possibly based on a fitness of purpose understanding of quality, as described for quadrant 3. An Analysis of Responses from Public Sector Quality Managers I now turn to an analysis of responses to the HEQCs proposed audit criteria document from quality managers from across the public sector, focusing on the debate around the approach to audit in general rather than on specific detail. On 10 and 11 April, 2003, shortly after the release of the HEQCs document, the South African Vice-Chancellors Association (SAUVCA) held a workshop for its SAUVCA National Quality Assurance Forum for quality managers to review the HEQCs proposals and to formulate a sectoral response to the document. All Quality Managers from the Technikons were also invited through the Committee of Technikon Principals, resulting in the submission of a joint final report entitled the SAUVCA and CTP Response to the Proposed Criteria for the HEQCs First Cycle of Audits: 2004-2009 (April 2003). All 21 universities and 9 out of 14 Technikons were represented at the workshop. Prior to the workshop a questionnaire on key aspects of the HEQC document was sent out to quality managers of all universities and technikons and a summary of the responses was presented for discussion at the workshop and used to inform the final report. 16 out of 21 universities and 5 out of 14 technikons responded to the questionnaire giving an overall response rate of 60%. The data presented below is drawn from the individual responses to the questionnaire, from discussion at the workshop and also from the joint response report that was submitted to the HEQC. Firstly, quality managers identified a shift in the HEQCs approach to audit from its position taken in earlier documents such as its Founding Document  ADDIN ENRfu (HEQC, 2001) (a quadrant 3 position) to that of a quadrant 4 position in the audit criteria document. This was summed up in the SAUVCA-CTP report as follows: Change in approach to audit: The change from a fitness for purpose to a fitness of purpose approach raised considerable debate. The point was made that the audit criteria document contains both approaches but there are serious doubts within the QA fraternity as to whether this is possible or desirable. The fear was expressed that if purpose or mission is to be approved by the HEQC and its audit panels then it becomes centrally driven and institutional autonomy is compromised. Institutions are fully in support of the current agenda for transformation and restructuring but wish to define their own missions within the national transformational agenda for higher education. The questions need to be posed as to exactly how the HEQC intends to still pursue a fitness of purpose approach? And what the implications will be for institutions if audit panels do not think that missions are appropriate? Development agenda: As the emphasis shifts from fitness for purpose to fitness of purpose it also shifts from a developmental mode to one of increased accountability. There is widespread opinion that the HEQC has lost the development agenda that was promised in its founding document. Development and capacity building are much needed.  ADDIN ENRfu (SAUVCA & CTP , 2003: 4) The questionnaire responses showed that only 43% of respondents believe that the HEQCs QA system will focus on improvement rather than on accountability and, in the comments, some suggested that the fitness for purpose concept of QA has been subsumed by a fitness of purpose conceptualization, the HEQC has lost the development agenda and that there comes a point where institutional autonomy and academic freedom is threatened. However, others believe that, given the South African HE context and the scope of the HEQCs responsibilities, this shift in approach is acceptable for the following reasons the link between audit and accreditation means that the HEQC is bound to stipulate a minimum set of requirements, HEIs requested minimum criteria, they need guidance, standardised criteria are needed to ensure consistency of judgment across HEIs, the SA HE landscape is so diverse. When asked specifically whether they think that it is appropriate for the HEQC to judge the fitness of a HE institutions mission in terms of the transformation agenda 75% of respondents agreed, with some commenting that there is no need for institutional missions to be out of step with the transformation agenda, the criteria are sufficiently general to allow room for manoeuvre, the criteria are not over-prescriptive. Those who disagreed expressed the following concerns - determining fitness of purpose is the DoEs problem, not the HEQCs, the HEQC should allow HEIs space to define for themselves how they will respond to national policy, the HEQC should not judge an institutions mission in terms of its own understanding of the transformation agenda, this should be done in dialogue with each HEI and an example of this concern was we are concerned that service learning is being used as the main indicator of transformation. The issue of the appropriateness of the HEQCs take-up of the transformation agenda was also raised at the workshop. Some participants argued that driving transformation issues should not be linked to quality assurance and should not be part of the HEQCs brief for this would undermine the HEQCs earlier commitment to independence, fairness and objectivity. Others argued that whilst all HEIs are supportive of the governments transformation agenda, that institutions want to take responsibility for this themselves, on their own terms. Others argued against this position stating that transformation is part of accountability, the purpose of the audits and the HEQCs work is to guarantee the provision of quality higher education to the majority of students therefore QA cannot ignore transformation issues. In the open-ended section of the questionnaire in response to a question asking whether respondents felt that the HEQC had left them sufficient space to design their own self-evaluations, respondents commented that the law did not leave the HEQC much leeway and the HEQC does not leave us much leeway, the over-emphasis on the transformation agenda doesnt leave much negotiable, the HEQC should have allowed HEIs more space to identify their own priorities and take their own initiatives. In their recommendations at the end of their response report SAUVCA and the CTP express a commitment to the quadrant 3 type of QA model: The change in approach to audit: with an increasing emphasis on fitness of purpose, has reduced the developmental potential of audit and has placed a greater emphasis on accountability. Whilst there is agreement that institutions must ultimately be held accountable for the quality of all their endeavours there is concern because the anticipated emphasis in the first round of audits was to have been a developmental one. The entire audit experience can be a very positive one for HE institutions. Experience elsewhere has shown that a developmental approach to audit has encouraged institutions to undertake honest self-assessments and has given them the time and space in which to effect improvements. Conversely, as the emphasis on accountability increases, institutions are less likely to expose their own weaknesses. Under these conditions they tend to move into a compliance mode and engage in window dressing. In the first cycle of institutional audits the emphasis must be a developmental one. The emphasis should be one which encourages the production of comprehensive and honest self-evaluation reports and which helps institutions to build and strengthen quality management systems.  ADDIN ENRfu (SAUVCA & CTP , 2003: 9) Finally, when asked what they thought the impact of the audit requirement would be for teaching staff and how academics would be likely to respond to this, some quality managers responded positively as follows it will be a wake-up call for some, some may see it as a means of improvement, some will be pleased to have guidelines, they will appreciate that the criteria are academically valid. However, the majority of comments were negative - the HEQC should be more concerned about the documents acceptability, this document should have gone to academics but the HEQC did not allow sufficient time for consultation within HEIs, teaching is a matter of heart and soul, but there will be a lack of buy-in from teaching staff, it will be perceived as burden and an intrusion causing resistance and negative perceptions of QA by academics, staff are change-fatigued, already over-stretched, over-worked; one should expect a negative attitude, grumbling and resistance, it will be resisted as an erosion of academic freedom, they lack support and capacity to implement it. It would appear that those quality managers who are unhappy with the approach to QA taken by the HEQC in its proposed audit criteria document are doing so because they perceive that the HEQC has moved into a quadrant 4 type of QA approach, whilst they are committed to a softer, more supportive approach conducive to improvement. However, this position is not supported by all quality managers, some of whom are supportive of the HEQCs tougher stance for the reasons quoted above, which include support for the transformation agenda becoming a measure of quality. These differences of opinion amongst quality managers may well be related to the different institutional cultures and the variations in historical state-higher education institution relationships noted above. Conclusion In terms of recommendations for the way forward, the data presented above suggests that it would be helpful, in future policy documents, if the HEQC made the shift in its position, and its reasons for doing so, more explicit. It might also help to allay fears of an unduly hard accountability regime if, rather than hinting at the possibility, the HEQC made clear its intentions to move from an accountability quadrant 4 type of system to a more supportive quadrant 3 type system in the medium or long-term. This would certainly assist quality managers in their role of mediating the HEQCs requirements and winning acceptance for them. It also needs to be stressed that the formulation, adoption and implementation of the South African national QA system is still at a policy formulation stage, gearing up for a pilot implementation stage, so premature conclusions are inappropriate. If HE institutions believe that the HEQCs approach is too accountability and fitness of purpose driven, there appears to still be space for them to continue to practice a QA approach that sits somewhere between the supportive and evaluative poles. It may be worthwhile to continuue to build a supportive internal quality management system with the aim of proving its effectiveness to the HEQC in the first cycle of audits. At a theoretical level, those involved in quality issues in South Africa should consider Ronald Barnetts warning that quality can become a pernicious ideology when it become a social project in its own right and imposes itself as an alien force on the agents and activities of higher education. Barnett argues that when the two ideas, the purposes of HE and the meaning of quality in HE become conceptually fused, quality begins to work as a pernicious ideology  ADDIN ENRfu (Barnett, 2003: 95). In the South African context, where there is general consensus on the need for transformation in HE, we need to ask whether the states transformation agenda that lays down its purposes for HE, is not, to some extent, also taking over the meaning of quality in HE. Alternatively, Barnett argues that provided the two ideas remain conceptually distinct and can be questioned as such, and provided HE institutions are afforded sufficient discursive space to allow the idea of quality to spring from the internal agendas of its agents, the academics; quality can become a virtuous ideology resulting in the improvement of the student experience and in the development of the collective professionalism of academics. Perhaps once the HE community has proved to the new democratic state, via the HEQC, that it is taking the states transformation agenda seriously, a relationship of trust will develop in which control and ownership of the QA process is gradually ceded by the state to qualifying institutions? References:  ADDIN ENBbu Asmal, K. (2001) In Quality Assurance in the 21st Century: Lessons for a New Quality Assurance Agency Council on Higher Education, Pretoria. Barnett, R. (2003) Beyond All Reason: Living with Ideology in the University, The Society for Research into Higher Education and Open University Press, Buckingham. Hall, M., Symes, A. and Thierry, M. L. (2002) Governance in South African Higher Education, CHE (Council on Higher Education), Pretoria. HEQC (Higher Education Quality Committee) (2001) Founding Document, CHE (Council on Higher Education), Pretoria. HEQC (Higher Education Quality Committee) (2003) Proposed Criteria for the HEQC's First Cycle of Audits: 2004-2009 Discussion Document, CHE (Council on Higher Education), Pretoria. SAUVCA & CTP (South African Universities Vice-Chancellors' Association & Committee of Technkon Principals) (2003) Response to Proposed Criteria for hte HEQC's First Cycle of Audits 2004-2009, SAUVCA, Pretoria. Singh, M. (2000) The HEQC and the Challenges of Quality Assurance in South African Higher Education, unpublished, Pretoria. Trow, M. (1999) In Quality Management in HIgher Education Institutions, Vol. 3 (Eds, CHEPS (Center for Higher Education Policy Studies, U. o. T., The Netherlands) and QSC (Centre for Higher Education Research and Information, O. U., UK)) LEMMA, Utrecht, pp. 9-34. Ulrich, W. (1983) Critical Heuristics of Social Planning: A New Approach to Practical Philosophy, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., Chichester, UK.  However, for the purposes of this paper, I have not focused on the role of the client in the typology descriptions as students tend to be involved in the implementation of QA but not significantly in its design and planning.  Whilst academics in this model are still the affected, in terms of Ulrichs definitions, that they also become involved as the power shifts and control of the evaluation is placed in their hands.  The data gathered for this paper largely bears out this expectation.  Education White Paper 3: A programme for the transformation of higher education, 1997, Higher Education Act, 1997 (Act No. 101 of 1997), National Plan for Higher Education, 2001 and A New Institutional Landscape for Higher Education in South Africa, 2002. .  With respect to accreditation, self-accreditation status means that an HEI will be authorized by the HEQC to re-accredit its own existing programmes through its own quality management system, but all new progammes will still have to be accredited by the HEQC initially. 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ࡱ> 7 bjbjUU &7|7| kl "   8,4< FB|"!!!EEEEEEE$XH xJE ! !!!E1 OE111!  D1!E1f18+Ch J gDp  -CgDDE0FC&K1&KgD1 15th International Conference on Assessing Quality in HE July 2003, Cape Town Tensions between Fitness of Purpose and Fitness for Purpose: The introduction of a national quality assurance system in South Africa Kathy Luckett, University of Natal Abstract: This paper explores different approaches to quality assurance and to institutional audit of teaching and learning in particular. It suggests that the national transformation agenda may be pushing the South African Higher Education Quality Committee (HEQC) towards a fitness of purpose approach, whilst quality assurance managers in higher education institutions generally favour a fitness for purpose approach. The paper draws on data from a survey questionnaire sent out to all universities and technikons by the South African Universities Vice-Chancellors Association to gauge opinion on the HEQCs discussion document entitled Proposed Criteria for the HEQCs First Cycle of Audits 2004-2009 (March 2003). The paper concludes by suggesting what challenges both external and internal quality assurance systems in South Africa will need to overcome in order to ensure successful adoption and implementation of a national quality assurance system. Introduction The term quality implies excellence, yet there is no accepted or objective definition of quality. In fact definitions of quality invariably result in circular arguments. I would argue that this is because quality is a dependent concept that takes its meaning from the purpose of the good or service in question. In other words, a service or product is considered to be of high quality if it achieves its purpose effectively and efficiently and in so doing satisfies its customers or clients; that is, if it is fit for its purpose. This means that what counts as quality in higher education can never be neutral, because behind the idea of quality higher education is an explicit or implicit idea of what higher education should be for. Higher education serves a range of stakeholders, all of whom want higher education to serve purposes related to their own concerns and interests. Thus we should not be surprised that the meaning of quality in HE is highly contested or that in South Africa currently, the introduction of a national quality assurance system is proving to be contentious. A particular conceptualistion of quality (linked to a particular understanding of the purposes of HE) will always inform the operationalisation of a quality assurance system. When policies and policy instruments for an external quality assurance system are introduced, they are likely to be adopted and implemented as intended within HE institutions, only where the values underpinning the policy, and the related assumptions about the purposes of HE, coincide with the dominant values of the institution in question. Where these are perceived to threaten or challenge the dominant values of the institution, the policies are likely to be resisted and their implementation subverted by the academics concerned. Thus when determining the quality of a HEI, one can do so at two levels. Firstly, one can interrogate the purposes, goals and mission that the HEI has set for itself, and which consequently inform its conceptualisation of quality and quality assurance. If one makes a judgment about this, this is a fitness of purpose judgment. Secondly, one can assess the extent to which the inputs, processes, outputs and outcomes of the organization are indeed fulfilling their intended purposes. This is a fitness for purpose judgment. Clearly, the right to make a fitness of purpose judgment implies greater power and control by the quality assurer over the quality assured, in that the external authority has the power to interrogate and even prescribe the purposes of the HE institution concerned. In quality assurance discourse, the process whereby an external authority sets the standards and criteria (and by implication, purposes) against which it judges the quality of a particular good or service, is termed quality assessment. In distinction, the term quality audit is used to describe the activity in which an external authority checks and validates the effectiveness of an organisations internal quality management system to assure its own definitions of quality, but does not presume to make a judgment on the actual quality achieved or, by implication, on the purposes and goals that the organization has set for itself. Clearly, a fitness for purpose judgment grants greater autonomy and freedom to the organization concerned, in that it is free to determine and justify its own purposes and attendant definitions and measures of quality. In the remainder of the paper I first set up a matrix of typologies of quality assurance systems in order to analyse the debate around the HEQCs recent proposals for a policy instrument for audit. In the following section I analyse the higher education policy context in which the HEQC is obliged to formulate its policies, with a view to foregrounding the purposes that the South African government wants HE to serve. I then present an analysis of the HEQCs proposals for criteria for its first cycle of audit, with a focus on how it deals with the fitness for and fitness of conceptualisations of quality. I then present responses to this document from quality managers in the public sector. In the conclusion I make suggestions for how the internal and external parties might work together synergistically in a national quality assurance system. Conceptualising Different Approaches to Quality Assurance In attempting to analyse and plot the different positions in the current debate around the HEQCs recently proposed policy instrument for institutional audit, I have adapted Martin Trows matrix of typologies for academic reviews  ADDIN ENRfu (Trow, 1999: 19) (see Figure 1 below). In doing so, I have broadened the scope of the typologies to cater for all forms of quality assurance in higher education (i.e. at both institutional and programme levels). The vertical axis represents control and ownership of the quality assurance process with the poles indicating that this can be located externally or internally to the organization. By control and ownership, I mean specifically who initiates the evaluation, who designs it and, crucially, who determines its criteria or measures of quality. The horizontal axis represents the orientation and method of evaluation used with the poles indicating that these lie along a continuum from strongly evaluative, that is, judgment-orientated or summative, to supportive, that is improvement-orientated or formative. The supportive pole is likely to be conducted in a collegial manner, whilst the evaluative pole is likely to be conducted in an administrative manner. These different orientations of evaluation require different evaluation designs and methods to be used, for example, key issues would be whether the criteria for judgment are implicit or explicit, who is appointed to make the judgments, the weight given to self- versus other-evaluation and the consequences linked to the evaluation outcomes. Figure 1    1 2    3 4  In describing the different typologies in the four quadrants, I focus deliberately on the different power relations between the various actors involved that are implied. In doing so, I follow  ADDIN ENRfu Ulrich's (1983) critical systems heuristics which he claims is a method for making planning as socially rational as possible. The critical systems heuristics method involves identifying four social roles related to a social policy or plan; three roles belong to the involved category these are the client (which is linked to the plans basis of motivation), the decision-maker (which is linked to the plans basis of power and sources of control) and the expert (which is linked to the plans sources of knowledge). The fourth social role belongs to the affected category those who are actually or potentially affected by the implementation and outcome of the plan and will have to live with its consequences and unwanted or unintended side-effects or risks, (the affected category is linked to the plans sources of legitimation). For the purposes of this paper, I apply Ulrichs 4 social roles to quality assurance systems in HE in the following manner: The clients are the students, for, with respect to HEs teaching function, it is the assurance and/or improvement of the quality of the student learning experience that provides the motivation for the QA project . With respect to the decision-maker role, I distinguish between internal decision-makers, HE senior managers, and external decision-makers, governments and government agencies, (in the South African case, the Department of Education which has delegated authority to the HEQC as a standing committee of a statutory body, the Council on Higher Education). For the purposes of this paper, I identify internal experts as quality managers and staff who work in internal quality units, and external experts as the HEQC (in that the HEQC plays the QA expert role for the Department of Education, as quality managers do for HE managers). Academics are identified in the role of the affected, that is, they are obliged to implement the QA policies and plans, despite the fact that they have not necessarily been involved in their formulation and may not buy into their motivations, values and assumptions. However, it should be noted that, if improvement is the orientation and hoped for outcome of the evaluation, then it is the affected academics who are the key agents of any improvement. I now describe briefly the defining characteristics of the type of QA model that would be found in each of the four quadrants. Quadrant 1 represents those models of QA which are supportive in orientation and are controlled and owned internally or locally. In these models it is the affected, or those who teach, who also own the evaluation, meaning that, in the example of a module or programme review, it would be the academics who teach on the module or programme who initiate and design the evaluation and determine its measures of quality (which may remain implicit). If experts are involved, such as staff from the institutional quality unit, they do so only in a supportive role that is provided by the institution (by the internal decision-makers). If evaluators external to the programme are involved, they are appointed by the affected (the teaching staff concerned) and are usually trusted academic peers from the same discipline. The academic staff on the module or programme is also the primary audience for the findings of the evaluation which are reported in a diagnostic and advisory manner. The method employed is usually a self-evaluation that may or may not be validated by external peers. The findings of the evaluation are owned by the staff concerned and it is usually up to them to determine whether they remain confidential or the extent of their publicisation. Normally the outcomes of the evaluation are non-threatening and not linked to any extrinsic rewards or punishments. According to  ADDIN ENRfu (Trow, 1999), this means that, at best, the evaluation of teaching in this quadrant leads to candid reflection and genuine improvement of teaching practice. If internal decision-makers are involved in such evaluations, it is usually to ensure that self-evaluations are carried out systematically and regularly and that their findings are aggregated up the system to contribute to composite institutional self-evaluations for institutional audit. Thus, in this model, the role of decision-makers is only to ensure that self-evaluations happen, that they are supported and reported and that they lead to improvements that are properly resourced, within an institutionally determined administrative framework. In this model, students are typically regarded as novices or apprentices rather than as customers or clients. Student evaluations are likely to be taken into account, but would not be accorded a heavy or stand-alone weighting; student opinion is likely to be triangulated with opinion data from other sources, usually that of external peers and from the lecturer him/ herself. According to Trow, the advantage of this type of evaluation in HE is that it emphasizes professional autonomy and responsibility and reinforces academic collegial values. There is consensus in the QA literature that the more the purpose, design, criteria and consequence of evaluation is owned by those being evaluated (the affected), the more likely they are to take its findings seriously. Thus, Trow concludes that this type of evaluation is the most likely to lead to genuine improvement. However,  ADDIN ENRfu (Trow, 1999: 21) also warns that the dangers of this model is that it assumes that academics are motivated by professional pride and ambition for status and recognition for their department or university. Evaluations in this quadrant are easily personalized and as a result may result in cover-ups or avoidances. Furthermore, they may be captured by the academic guild and lose their critical edge. QA models in quadrant 2 are controlled internally but are evaluative and summative in orientation. Such models are usually owned by internal decision-makers, HE managers, who institute system-wide quality management systems as part of their institutional management system, using QA as a lever of control or change. The focus of this type of evaluation is on the institution as a whole and senior HE managers are the primary audience. Students may be viewed as clients and customers rather than novice learners. Criteria for summative internal evaluations tend to be explicit, linked to the institutional mission and goals (self-defined purpose) and are common across the institution. Criteria are usually determined by management in consultation with QA experts, although they are usually ratified by academic decision-making bodies, such as Senates. These QA systems are usually run by the institutional QA experts, using the expertise of external peers for judgments. Depending on how this is done, they may be perceived by academics on the ground (the affected) as more or less alienating and threatening. In some cases, self-evaluations are ring-fenced and as far as possible kept formative and supportive at sub-unit levels, with only generalized and sanitized results being aggregated up for institutional reporting and summative decision-making purposes. However, according to  ADDIN ENRfu (Trow, 1999: 21), because their results are linked directly to internal decision-making and may be linked to promotions and the allocation of resources, where they feed off type 1 self-evaluations, type 2 evaluations tend to subvert them. QA models in quadrant 3 are controlled externally but are supportive in orientation. This means that they are owned by external decision-makers, such as government QA agencies. However, because they are supportive, the criteria used to measure quality are left to the institution or at least negotiated with the institution and the recipient of the evaluation is as much the institutional managers (internal decision-makers) as the external decision-makers. In the case of institutional audit, a fitness for purpose model would fit into this typology, because the purpose of HE, as defined in the institutional mission and goals, would be used to determine the criteria for measuring quality in a particular HEI. In this model, the function of the external agency is simply to establish the extent to which the internal quality management system is effective in ensuring that the institution is fit for its self-defined purpose. The external QA agency plays a supportive and expert role, similar to that of the internal quality unit (experts) working at programme level in quadrant 1, namely it provides a framework and constructive feedback on institutional QA systems to HE managers. In this sense, the external party validates, authorizes and supports internal QA processes and findings. According to  ADDIN ENRfu (Trow, 1999), the external agency can also become a repository for educational innovation and expertise which it disseminates through this advisory role. The method of evaluation typically used in this model is again one of self-evaluation validated by external peer review. However, the external peers are likely to be appointed or at least approved by the institution under review. In this model, the outcomes of the evaluation are neither punitive nor linked to resource allocation. The evaluation report is often confidential or the extent of its publication is negotiated with the evaluated institutions decision-makers. This type of QA model can serve as a stimulus to internal self-evaluation and improvement processes and can also help make institutional processes more explicit and institutionalized. However,  ADDIN ENRfu (Trow, 1999: 24) suggests that because they are external, they are often superficial and do little to add value to the self-review conducted in preparation for the external evaluation or audit. Trow also warns that this model is inherently unstable because it is vulnerable to government pressures to become more useful to government and thus to move towards the evaluative pole of the horizontal axis. Models of QA in quadrant 4 are controlled externally and are evaluative in orientation. These evaluations are owned by and reflect the concerns and interests of the external QA agency and the government to which it reports. The purposes of HE are often pre-defined by government policy and tend to emphasise goods extrinsic to the HE system such as contributing to national economic growth and labour market needs and to greater social justice. These interests feed into the external agencys definitions of the standardized criteria by which quality is to be measured uniformly across the HE system. This means that the external agency is in a position to make judgments about the fitness of purpose of an institutions mission and goals, by checking to ensure that these are aligned with the purposes and goals for HE prescribed by the government and consequently built into its criteria for assessing quality. In this model, the audience of the evaluation is the external agency and the government, and, whilst the QA method usually begins with self-evaluation, even this tends to be other-directed and therefore persuasive and defensive rather than open and honest. In this model, self-evaluation reports are often compiled by full-time QA experts under the supervision of institutional decision-makers and as such can become remote from life in the classroom. Models of QA in this quadrant often view students as customers or clients and the expert peers appointed and trained by the external agency to make summative judgments are often defined very broadly to mean other HE stakeholders such as employers or professionals, as well as the disciplinary peers recognized by academics. The outcomes of the evaluation are summative and judgments are usually made public and have direct consequences linked to accreditation, funding, status, reputation, etc. In other cases, the consequences of evaluation may be indirect, in the form of recommendations to other external decision-making bodies, such as government departments.  ADDIN ENRfu (Trow, 1999: 27) critiques this model of QA as an expression of a lack of trust between governments and HE institutions. He suggests that one of its effects is likely to be a reduction of diversity in the HE system. He warns of the danger that its judgments may seem unresponsive, remote and even arbitrary from the point of view of the affected academics. In such cases, QA is unlikely to contribute to the improvement of teaching and scholarship in HE institutions. In fact, precisely because the model of QA found in quadrant 4 is not based on the inner motivations and values of academic staff and represents a shift in the balance of power away from academia and towards the state, Trow warns that such externally driven QA processes are often resisted or subverted by academics on the ground. In order to avoid such consequences, Ulrich suggests that before imposing a social plan, the involved should publicly secure the consent of the affected  ADDIN ENRfu (Ulrich, 1983: 257). He proposes that this agreement or consent be secured by the planners through rational dialogue and value clarification with representatives of the affected. For as Ulrich points out, it is only the voluntary consent of the affected that can legitimate the costs and risks imposed on them by any social policy or plan. The Policy Agenda for South African Higher Education Whilst one should take seriously the warnings of international experts such as Ulrich and Trow (quoted above) on the limitations and dangers inherent in social planning and in different QA models, the question of the appropriateness of a particular national QA system needs to be answered contextually rather than normatively. For this reason, the policy context in which the HEQCs proposed QA instrument is situated is briefly explored. Firstly I note the changing relationship and shifting balance of power between the state and higher education in South Africa. According to  ADDIN ENRfu (Hall et al., 2002: 92), the situation in higher education inherited by the new South African state in 1994 was a strange mixture of direct state control for some HE institutions and a surprising degree of autonomy for others. The six Afrikaans-medium universities and the four English-medium universities (for white students) enjoyed considerable institutional autonomy and academic freedom, allowing the English-medium liberal universities to become centres of anti-apartheid opposition. In contrast, the Technikon sector (seven for white students, two for Indian and Coloured students and five in the homelands) was under direct state control and shared a national curriculum (as it still does). The six homeland universities were also tightly controlled and were governed as an integral part of the homelands civil service whilst the two universities for Indian and Coloured students stood somewhere in-between. From 1994 until the publication of the Department of Educations National Plan for Higher Education in 2001, ADDIN ENRfu (Hall et al., 2002) suggest that, under the concept of cooperative governance in which academic freedom and institutional autonomy were guaranteed through block grant funding and an expectation of self-regulation by individual institutions, South African HE was characterized by a loose system of state steering and supervision. During this period the state hoped that the social contract established through its concept of cooperative governance would ensure that all HE stakeholders would put the greater interest of national reconstruction and development above their own particular interests. However, the inability of some HE institutions to govern themselves and the great inefficiency and wastage in the system led to a shift in the governments approach. Thus subsequent amendments to the Higher Education Act of 1997 gave the Minister of Education powers to intervene directly in the affairs of individual institutions and also to close down or merge institutions. According to  ADDIN ENRfu (Hall et al., 2002) the publication of the National Plan in 2001 marks a shift in the relation between the state and HE institutions from one of cooperative governance to one of conditional (institutional) autonomy. They argue that the state does not have the capacity to impose direct control over HE institutions partly because, together with institutions, it cannot produce the quality of information required for a rational top-down approach. Nor, they argue, would this be desirable. However, they suggest that the National Plan, the Department of Educations three-year rolling plans (in which institutional Programme and Qualification Mixes must be approved prior to offering) and the new funding framework (which makes provision for prospective funding), is a move in this direction. The state has now established a web of governance which allows it to use policy instruments such as planning, funding and quality assurance (in particular the accreditation of programmes by the HEQC) to control both the inputs and outputs of the HE system. At the same time, the states entrenchment of the rights of academic freedom and conditional institutional autonomy (in the White Paper and the Higher Education Act), is meant to afford academics a meaningful role in shaping institutional policy with respect to all matters related to teaching and research through their Senates. Hall et al explain that this means that substantive matters such as who can teach what and to whom are still under academic control, whilst procedural matters relating to enabling factors such as planning, funding and quality assurance have, since 2001, been firmly taken over by the state. Hall et als analysis of the changing nature of the state HE relationship suggests that it is particularly those institutions which enjoyed a surprising degree of institutional autonomy and academic freedom during the apartheid era and which have a tradition and culture of state opposition and critical engagement (namely the 4 historically liberal English-medium universities), that are likely, under the current government to express concerns about encroachments on institutional autonomy by the state . Whilst those institutions that historically never enjoyed such privileges or that historically have a culture of compliance, are more likely to accept as legitimate the HEQCs proposed interference. The HEQC recognizes that these historical differences have led to different approaches to QA Different histories and interpretations of quality management exist in various higher education sectors. Technikons and agricultural colleges have focused largely on minimum standards, programme evaluation and statutory compliance, whereas the universities favoured a developmental approach in which self- and peer evaluation was based on fitness for purpose, relating to the institutions mission and goals. The private provider sector has indicated a strong interest in the quality requirements of vocational education. A common understanding of and approach to quality issues are needed, which will of necessity have an influence on the development of the criteria.  ADDIN ENRfu (HEQC, 2003: 8) However, the pending institutional mergers are likely to nullify these institutional typologies and different approaches to QA. Whatever an institutions history and culture, the fact that the HEQCs policy proposals come wrapped in a discourse about transformation which includes notions of equity and social justice, makes it very difficult for any fair-minded South African supportive of the new democracy to gain critical distance and to be seen to oppose or critique the HEQCs proposals (see below). Space does not permit a detailed analysis of the policy environment in which the HEQC must design its QA system. However, a reading of key Department of Education policy documents on HE  suggests that the key values to which the government is committed and the key purposes that it has defined for HE in the post-2001 period are as follows: A commitment to national reconstruction through social and economic development in which the state is positioned as a key instrument of modernization in a global economy; which for HE means that it must become more responsive, and more efficient and more effective in its delivery. A commitment to social justice through equity and representivity; which for HE means that it must widen access and that the composition of its enrolments, graduations and staff should become representative of the South African population. A commitment to innovation, creativity and diversity; which for HE means that academic freedom and (conditional) institutional autonomy should be preserved as the conditions for these qualities to develop. I would argue that the first two value commitments and attendant purposes for HE are dominant in the Department of Educations policy discourse, whilst the third represents a subordinate discourse, almost added as an afterthought. These three value commitments are operationalised into policy goals for the HE system by a state which steers the system through indirect means; for it seeks to control outputs as well as funding inputs, and to ensure through planning and quality assurance that its goals and values are ascribed to and achieved. In this sense quality assurance is understood as a mechanism of the state for achieving the states purposes for the HE system more efficiently and effectively. However, quality per se is also used to signify a desirable goal for HE, which, linked to equity, serves as a justification for the restructuring and transformation of HE to ensure quality teaching and learning opportunities for all students, that is equal educational opportunities for all. This brief analysis of the states understanding of the purposes of HE and its attendant views on the meaning of quality and the role of a national quality assurance system are well illustrated in the following quotations from the Minister of Educations speech at the launch of the HEQC in May 2001: In the early phase of social reconstruction that we find ourselves in South Africa, the success of higher education must be judged in terms of its contribution to the achievement of social and economic goals to which we all aspire. For its substantial investment in HE, government expects the HE system to contribute to national reconstruction through producing an increasing representative flow of successful graduates with the necessary knowledge and competencies to meet the human resource development needs of our society. Inefficient, poorly governed and managed institutions which squander public resources and retard the life chances of students cannot yield high quality graduates and excellence in scholarship. The quality improvement sought by the HEQC in the domains of teaching, learning, research and community will have to dovetail with the efficiency drive which my department has already initiated through the three year rolling plan process. With the launch of the HEQC, a fundamental component of the regulatory framework for HE is now in place. The issue of high quality education is not an indulgence for the advantaged sector of the HE system or an add-on to our existing planning initiatives. It is a critical part of the transformation trajectory in HE a goal as well as developmental instrument for the achievement of social justice and economic well-being in our country.  ADDIN ENRfu (Asmal, 2001: 6-8) Interestingly, with respect to the tension between fitness of and fitness for purpose models of QA, the Minster had this to say: The HEQC will have to ensure that HE institutions achieve acceptable levels of operationality required of all institutions while striving to be the best that they can be in relation to their chosen missions. . In our drive to develop benchmarks, performance indicators, level descriptors and the like, we must be careful not to let a justified demand for accountability descend into a soul destroying over-regulation and over-stipulation of what can and cannot be done. We want a quality assurance system which guarantees at least some minimum standards but which also creates a climate for the pursuit of creativity and excellence in a way that allow for diverse mission identities and the development of an innovation mindset as well as the values of free intellectual enquiry. I will watch with great interest the HEQCs attempt to construct a quality assurance system that is necessary without being excessive or regimental.  ADDIN ENRfu (Asmal, 2001: 6-7) Finally, in the introduction to its proposals for audit criteria document (discussed below), the HEQC articulates how the governments policy agenda for HE gets into its policy instrument in order to serve the larger transformation agenda: National policy relating to higher education provides not only the broad conceptual and legislative context for the HEQCs work, but also have clear implications for the development of the HEQCs audit (and accreditation) criteria. The criteria have to be consonant with national policy documents on issues such as the purposes of higher education, national needs and challenges, issues like access, standards, etc. The criteria are, in fact, one of the main vehicles for giving practical effect to these policies.  ADDIN ENRfu (HEQC, 2003: 6) Clearly, the HEQC faces an enormous challenge: the development and implementation of a quality assurance system that will both serve the transformation agenda of the Department of Education and, if it is to be effective, also win acceptance and legitimation from the academic community. The Executive Director of the HEQC has signaled her awareness of the challenges facing the HEQC: The entry of the HEQC into HE at this particular juncture in our transition holds the prospect of it being enriched by as well as enriching the politics of restructuring in HE. Alternatively, it could end up being weak and ineffectual precisely because of the turbulence and volatility of the restructuring, the magnitude of the demands being made upon it and the paucity of resources available for its tasks. Strategic steering of the HEQC and appropriate support for its work will be critical to its success.  ADDIN ENRfu (Singh, 2000: 11) An Analysis of the HEQCs Dicsussion Document on Proposed Criteria for its First Cycle of Audits In March 2003 the HEQC released as a Discussion Document its Proposed Criteria for the HEQCs First Cycle of Audits: 2004-2009 for comment. The period for comment has now closed and the HE community await the finalisation of this policy instrument for institutional audit. The HEQC has indicated that it will finalise the document later this year once it has conducted and evaluated a series of pilot audits. Thus the comment and critique below must remain tentative as it is based on a discussion document. In this section, I highlight key features of the HEQCs document first by analyzing its position on the fitness of versus fitness for purpose debate and then by working through the characteristics of the QA model used in describing the QA typologies above. In this document the HEQC seems to be suggesting that both a fitness of purpose and a fitness for purpose approach to audit can be accommodated in the same model. For example, in the Introduction the HEQC refers back to its earlier commitment in its Audit Framework document (2002:7): The HEQC will use as a starting point criteria relating to an institutions own specification of mission and objectives. It is assumed that institutional missions will take national imperatives into account, as articulated in the Education White Paper 3: A Programme for the Transformation of Higher Education, the Higher Education Act, the National Plan for Higher Education, the Human Resource Development Strategy, and other policy frameworks.  ADDIN ENRfu (HEQC, 2003: 4) This position is further elaborated on in the Introduction: Important to note is the reality that an audit system for South African higher education will have to take broader transformation imperatives into account. Audit criteria will have to deal with how higher education institutions are engaging with the legacies of inequity, lack of opportunity and poor quality provision in many parts of the system. They will also have to address the adaptability, responsiveness and innovativeness of institutions in relation to new knowledge and skills requirements and new modalities of provision. Ultimately, they will have to enable or encourage an institution to demonstrate that it is improving continuously as a teaching, research and social institution and that it is socially responsive without compromising its intellectual identity as a higher education institution.  ADDIN ENRfu (HEQC, 2003: 3) Here the use of strong modality (will have to) repeatedly in the grammatical structure suggests that the writer believes that the HEQC has no option but to impose a strong fitness of purpose QA model on the HE system. The HEQC attempts to explain its position again in the Introduction as follows: The mission and goals of an institution provide the overarching context within which its core educational activities ought to take place (fitness for purpose). Institutional missions and goals have themselves to be determined in relation to the needs of the local and national context within which the institution finds itself (fitness of purpose). One of the functions of the audit criteria would be to evaluate the quality dimension of this link between mission and goals and an institutions local and national context. In addition to the above, institutional missions and goals have to be congruent with the purposes of higher education in general. They should also be appropriately responsive to international developments and trends in higher education.  ADDIN ENRfu (HEQC, 2003: 9) It seems to me that the HEQC is actually taking a fitness of purpose position, that is, it understands itself to be obliged to interrogate an institutions mission and goals to check whether these are aligned with national policy goals and purposes for HE; but at the same time, it does not want to go so far as to actually prescribe missions for individual institutions. Instead institutions are free to define their own goals and purposes, but within tightly prescribed parameters, namely conformity to the governments transformation agenda for HE. This fitness of purpose approach is captured in its first criterion for audit: SUB-AREA: FITNESS OF THE MISSION OF INSTITUTIONS IN RELATION TO LOCAL, NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL CONTEXTS (INCLUDING TRANSFORMATION ISSUES) CRITERION 1: The institution has a clearly stated mission and purpose with goals and priorities which are fit for its local, national and international context and which adequately provide for transformational issues. There are effective strategies for the realisation of these goals and priorities. Human, financial and infra-structural resources are available to give effect to these goals and priorities. In order to meet this criterion, the following are examples of what would be expected: i) Engagement with local, regional, national and international imperatives (including national policy frameworks and objectives) in order to establish the fitness of the mission of the institution. Involvement of internal and external stakeholders in this process ii) Adequate attention to transformational issues in the mission of the institution.  ADDIN ENRfu (HEQC, 2003: 19) The careful wording of this formulation suggests that the HEQC will insist that institutions address the national policy agenda for the transformation of HE, but exactly how they do so will still be left to internal decision-making. More generally, the HEQC defines the nature of audit according to the accepted meaning in quality assurance discourse, namely that its purpose will not be to judge quality per se, but rather to evaluate the nature and extent of the quality management system in place at an institution and to judge its effectiveness on the basis of evidence provided by the institution. Quoting from its draft Institutional Audit Framework (2002), the HEQC reminds its readers of its objectives for audit: To enable a higher education institution to assure itself, its stakeholders and the HEQC that its policies, systems and processes for the development, maintenance and enhancement of quality in all its educational offerings are functioning effectively. To enable providers and the HEQC to identify areas of strength and excellence as well as areas in need of focused attention for improvement in the short, medium and long term. To provide for consistency in quality management across the higher education sector and generate a national picture of the role of quality management in the transformation of higher education. It will also enable the HEQC to make a judgement on the overall status of quality management in higher education and monitor system level improvement.  ADDIN ENRfu (HEQC, 2003: 1) With respect to who will take ownership and control of the audits, it is interesting to note in this list of objectives the slippage in the owner and audience of the audit from the institution itself (1) and again as provider (2), together with the HEQC (1 & 2) and its stakeholders (1) to the HEQC alone in (3) where the HEQC clearly becomes the main owner of the audit. The concern to generate a national picture or the role of quality management in the transformation of HE is clearly a concern of the state rather than of individual HE institutions. The HEQC then goes on to specify specific objectives for the first cycle of audits. The HEQC is clearly setting the audit agenda here and through its specification of criteria for audit intends to signal clearly to the HE community the institutional areas in need of systematic attention in order to ensure an acceptable level of quality provision and to indicate key areas for in depth attention (HEQC 2003: ii). The HEQC makes it clear that its standardised criteria are to be, in the first cycle at least, applicable to all institutions across the system. The HEQCs rationale for this position, (which places it firmly in quadrant 4 of the QA typologies described above), seems to be that it first has to establish a base-line or threshold of quality provision across the system from which it can then begin to carry out its capacity development and improvement work. Furthermore, it states later on that criteria should be developed for the HE sector as a whole in line with the vision of a single, coordinated HE system (HEQC 2003:1). The Department of Educations vision for a single HE system which incorporates both the public and private sectors has become naturalized and is presented as a given. However, the HEQC adds a rider immediately afterwards by stating that a measure of flexibility should be built into the criteria to allow for diversity and fitness for purpose! (Perhaps here it is referring to its format for the criteria which provide for a very weak form of prescription, see below). The HEQC also presents the possibility of a more differentiated approach in the second cycle of audit in which a lighter touch will be possible for some institutions, depending on the findings of the first cycle. This suggests that, whilst the HEQC feels bound to begin its work in quadrant 4, it would like to to move across to a quadrant 3 model of QA once it has assured a threshold level of quality and accountability across the system. In an apparent contradiction of its earlier definition of the nature of audit, in describing the nature of its criteria, the HEQC suggests (2003:1) that these should serve a dual purpose, namely to make judgments about quality per se and about quality management, for both audit and accreditation and also for internal and external evaluation. This dual function is described as follows: The criteria should be useful for institutions in developing and enhancing the quality of provision in a way that advances the achievement of national goals and priorities in higher education in South Africa. They should serve diagnostic as well as improvement purposes in respect of the core functions of the institutions.  ADDIN ENRfu (HEQC, 2003: 1) It remains to be seen whether the same criteria can be used for both achieving national goals and priorities and for improving individual academics teaching practice. However, the use of the criteria for both quality and quality management systems is explained through the HEQCs rather ingenious introduction of different levels of scrutiny. The HEQC has formulated general criteria at levels 1 and 2 for ascertaining the quality of institutional quality management systems and more specific in depth criteria at level 3 for assessing the quality of provision per se. It is probably the criteria at level 3 which the HEQC believes can also serve internal self-evaluations, not of the type that would be self-defined in the quadrant 1 model, but perhaps institutionally defined criteria for a quadrant 2 model. A further innovative feature of the HEQCs format for the specification of its criteria is that criterion statements are followed by examples of what would be expected which appears to be an attempt to provide descriptors of acceptable practice, as opposed to specifying performance indicators, suggesting that the HEQC is concerned to avoid being overly prescriptive. With respect to the orientation and method of evaluation proposed in the HEQC document, the widely accepted method of institutional self-evaluation followed by external audit is proposed. What is different is the HEQCs insertion of audit trails into the audit process, which will assess actual quality in order to test the effectiveness of the institutions internal quality management system (hence the need for level 3 criteria which carry detailed descriptions of acceptable practice). The HEQC plans to appoint and train its own audit panelists and programme evaluators who will report directly to it. Although the details of the audit method remain vague as the HEQC is still preparing its audit manual and the finalizing its Institutional Audit Framework, all indications point to the HEQC following a model of QA that would fall into quadrant 4. This interpretation is confirmed by the outcomes of its proposed audits which will take the form of a summative judgment using a normative scale: good, satisfactory or not satisfactory. The HEQC rationale for this form of judgment is confusing, for reasons of transparency and as an instrument for institutional development within the framework of the HEQCs formative approach to quality management  ADDIN ENRfu (HEQC, 2003: 39). The consequences of these audit judgments are not entirely clear. It is suggested that they will be used to encourage improvement by institutions and also for summative decisions about the eventual granting of self-accreditation status (but the outcome of audit is only one amongst a number of factors that the HEQC will take into account in making the self-accreditation status judgment). It is not possible to make a final judgment on the HEQCs model of QA, for none of the documents outlining its policy instruments are yet finalized and a lot will depend on how these are interpreted and applied in practice. However, the analysis above suggests that the HEQC is proposing a model of audit that falls squarely into quadrant 4, but the wording and fuzziness in some parts of the document suggest that the HEQC is trying to hold onto some aspects of the supportive-type QA discourse, and finds itself in quadrant 4 reluctantly. There are also clear indications that the HEQC sees itself as working with the strongly evaluative and accountability model only in the short-term and that it plans to shift the system into quadrant 3 in the medium or long-term. This conclusion is based on its idea of using audit summatively as one mechanism for determining whether or not to grant an institution self-accreditation status. Presumably, once an institution has won such status, it will be free to operate in a quadrant 3 type system where the HEQC simply validates its internal quality management system from time to time . The HEQC appears to be obliged to initially carry out a thorough accountability check based on standardized minimum quality thresholds and a fitness of purpose conception of quality across the system. Once an institution has satisfied the state, through the HEQC, that it is adequately carrying out the transformation agenda, has an effective quality management system in place and can demonstrate that it can maintain minimum quality thresholds of provision, then it will be permitted to move into a more self-regulatory model of QA, possibly based on a fitness of purpose understanding of quality, as described for quadrant 3. An Analysis of Responses from Public Sector Quality Managers I now turn to an analysis of responses to the HEQCs proposed audit criteria document from quality managers from across the public sector, focusing on the debate around the approach to audit in general rather than on specific detail. On 10 and 11 April, 2003, shortly after the release of the HEQCs document, the South African Vice-Chancellors Association (SAUVCA) held a workshop for its SAUVCA National Quality Assurance Forum for quality managers to review the HEQCs proposals and to formulate a sectoral response to the document. All Quality Managers from the Technikons were also invited through the Committee of Technikon Principals, resulting in the submission of a joint final report entitled the SAUVCA and CTP Response to the Proposed Criteria for the HEQCs First Cycle of Audits: 2004-2009 (April 2003). All 21 universities and 9 out of 14 Technikons were represented at the workshop. Prior to the workshop a questionnaire on key aspects of the HEQC document was sent out to quality managers of all universities and technikons and a summary of the responses was presented for discussion at the workshop and used to inform the final report. 16 out of 21 universities and 5 out of 14 technikons responded to the questionnaire giving an overall response rate of 60%. The data presented below is drawn from the individual responses to the questionnaire, from discussion at the workshop and also from the joint response report that was submitted to the HEQC. Firstly, quality managers identified a shift in the HEQCs approach to audit from its position taken in earlier documents such as its Founding Document  ADDIN ENRfu (HEQC, 2001) (a quadrant 3 position) to that of a quadrant 4 position in the audit criteria document. This was summed up in the SAUVCA-CTP report as follows: Change in approach to audit: The change from a fitness for purpose to a fitness of purpose approach raised considerable debate. The point was made that the audit criteria document contains both approaches but there are serious doubts within the QA fraternity as to whether this is possible or desirable. The fear was expressed that if purpose or mission is to be approved by the HEQC and its audit panels then it becomes centrally driven and institutional autonomy is compromised. Institutions are fully in support of the current agenda for transformation and restructuring but wish to define their own missions within the national transformational agenda for higher education. The questions need to be posed as to exactly how the HEQC intends to still pursue a fitness of purpose approach? And what the implications will be for institutions if audit panels do not think that missions are appropriate? Development agenda: As the emphasis shifts from fitness for purpose to fitness of purpose it also shifts from a developmental mode to one of increased accountability. There is widespread opinion that the HEQC has lost the development agenda that was promised in its founding document. Development and capacity building are much needed.  ADDIN ENRfu (SAUVCA & CTP , 2003: 4) The questionnaire responses showed that only 43% of respondents believe that the HEQCs QA system will focus on improvement rather than on accountability and, in the comments, some suggested that the fitness for purpose concept of QA has been subsumed by a fitness of purpose conceptualization, the HEQC has lost the development agenda and that there comes a point where institutional autonomy and academic freedom is threatened. However, others believe that, given the South African HE context and the scope of the HEQCs responsibilities, this shift in approach is acceptable for the following reasons the link between audit and accreditation means that the HEQC is bound to stipulate a minimum set of requirements, HEIs requested minimum criteria, they need guidance, standardised criteria are needed to ensure consistency of judgment across HEIs, the SA HE landscape is so diverse. When asked specifically whether they think that it is appropriate for the HEQC to judge the fitness of a HE institutions mission in terms of the transformation agenda 75% of respondents agreed, with some commenting that there is no need for institutional missions to be out of step with the transformation agenda, the criteria are sufficiently general to allow room for manoeuvre, the criteria are not over-prescriptive. Those who disagreed expressed the following concerns - determining fitness of purpose is the DoEs problem, not the HEQCs, the HEQC should allow HEIs space to define for themselves how they will respond to national policy, the HEQC should not judge an institutions mission in terms of its own understanding of the transformation agenda, this should be done in dialogue with each HEI and an example of this concern was we are concerned that service learning is being used as the main indicator of transformation. The issue of the appropriateness of the HEQCs take-up of the transformation agenda was also raised at the workshop. Some participants argued that driving transformation issues should not be linked to quality assurance and should not be part of the HEQCs brief for this would undermine the HEQCs earlier commitment to independence, fairness and objectivity. Others argued that whilst all HEIs are supportive of the governments transformation agenda, that institutions want to take responsibility for this themselves, on their own terms. Others argued against this position stating that transformation is part of accountability, the purpose of the audits and the HEQCs work is to guarantee the provision of quality higher education to the majority of students therefore QA cannot ignore transformation issues. In the open-ended section of the questionnaire in response to a question asking whether respondents felt that the HEQC had left them sufficient space to design their own self-evaluations, respondents commented that the law did not leave the HEQC much leeway and the HEQC does not leave us much leeway, the over-emphasis on the transformation agenda doesnt leave much negotiable, the HEQC should have allowed HEIs more space to identify their own priorities and take their own initiatives. In their recommendations at the end of their response report SAUVCA and the CTP express a commitment to the quadrant 3 type of QA model: The change in approach to audit: with an increasing emphasis on fitness of purpose, has reduced the developmental potential of audit and has placed a greater emphasis on accountability. Whilst there is agreement that institutions must ultimately be held accountable for the quality of all their endeavours there is concern because the anticipated emphasis in the first round of audits was to have been a developmental one. The entire audit experience can be a very positive one for HE institutions. Experience elsewhere has shown that a developmental approach to audit has encouraged institutions to undertake honest self-assessments and has given them the time and space in which to effect improvements. Conversely, as the emphasis on accountability increases, institutions are less likely to expose their own weaknesses. Under these conditions they tend to move into a compliance mode and engage in window dressing. In the first cycle of institutional audits the emphasis must be a developmental one. The emphasis should be one which encourages the production of comprehensive and honest self-evaluation reports and which helps institutions to build and strengthen quality management systems.  ADDIN ENRfu (SAUVCA & CTP , 2003: 9) Finally, when asked what they thought the impact of the audit requirement would be for teaching staff and how academics would be likely to respond to this, some quality managers responded positively as follows it will be a wake-up call for some, some may see it as a means of improvement, some will be pleased to have guidelines, they will appreciate that the criteria are academically valid. However, the majority of comments were negative - the HEQC should be more concerned about the documents acceptability, this document should have gone to academics but the HEQC did not allow sufficient time for consultation within HEIs, teaching is a matter of heart and soul, but there will be a lack of buy-in from teaching staff, it will be perceived as burden and an intrusion causing resistance and negative perceptions of QA by academics, staff are change-fatigued, already over-stretched, over-worked; one should expect a negative attitude, grumbling and resistance, it will be resisted as an erosion of academic freedom, they lack support and capacity to implement it. It would appear that those quality managers who are unhappy with the approach to QA taken by the HEQC in its proposed audit criteria document are doing so because they perceive that the HEQC has moved into a quadrant 4 type of QA approach, whilst they are committed to a softer, more supportive approach conducive to improvement. However, this position is not supported by all quality managers, some of whom are supportive of the HEQCs tougher stance for the reasons quoted above, which include support for the transformation agenda becoming a measure of quality. These differences of opinion amongst quality managers may well be related to the different institutional cultures and the variations in historical state-higher education institution relationships noted above. Conclusion In terms of recommendations for the way forward, the data presented above suggests that it would be helpful, in future policy documents, if the HEQC made the shift in its position, and its reasons for doing so, more explicit. It might also help to allay fears of an unduly hard accountability regime if, rather than hinting at the possibility, the HEQC made clear its intentions to move from an accountability quadrant 4 type of system to a more supportive quadrant 3 type system in the medium or long-term. This would certainly assist quality managers in their role of mediating the HEQCs requirements and winning acceptance for them. It also needs to be stressed that the formulation, adoption and implementation of the South African national QA system is still at a policy formulation stage, gearing up for a pilot implementation stage, so premature conclusions are inappropriate. If HE institutions believe that the HEQCs approach is too accountability and fitness of purpose driven, there appears to still be space for them to continue to practice a QA approach that sits somewhere between the supportive and evaluative poles. It may be worthwhile to continuue to build a supportive internal quality management system with the aim of proving its effectiveness to the HEQC in the first cycle of audits. At a theoretical level, those involved in quality issues in South Africa should consider Ronald Barnetts warning that quality can become a pernicious ideology when it become a social project in its own right and imposes itself as an alien force on the agents and activities of higher education. Barnett argues that when the two ideas, the purposes of HE and the meaning of quality in HE become conceptually fused, quality begins to work as a pernicious ideology  ADDIN ENRfu (Barnett, 2003: 95). In the South African context, where there is general consensus on the need for transformation in HE, we need to ask whether the states transformation agenda that lays down its purposes for HE, is not, to some extent, also taking over the meaning of quality in HE. Alternatively, Barnett argues that provided the two ideas remain conceptually distinct and can be questioned as such, and provided HE institutions are afforded sufficient discursive space to allow the idea of quality to spring from the internal agendas of its agents, the academics; quality can become a virtuous ideology resulting in the improvement of the student experience and in the development of the collective professionalism of academics. Perhaps once the HE community has proved to the new democratic state, via the HEQC, that it is taking the states transformation agenda seriously, a relationship of trust will develop in which control and ownership of the QA process is gradually ceded by the state to qualifying institutions? References:  ADDIN ENBbu Asmal, K. (2001) In Quality Assurance in the 21st Century: Lessons for a New Quality Assurance Agency Council on Higher Education, Pretoria. Barnett, R. (2003) Beyond All Reason: Living with Ideology in the University, The Society for Research into Higher Education and Open University Press, Buckingham. Hall, M., Symes, A. and Thierry, M. L. (2002) Governance in South African Higher Education, CHE (Council on Higher Education), Pretoria. HEQC (Higher Education Quality Committee) (2001) Founding Document, CHE (Council on Higher Education), Pretoria. HEQC (Higher Education Quality Committee) (2003) Proposed Criteria for the HEQC's First Cycle of Audits: 2004-2009 Discussion Document, CHE (Council on Higher Education), Pretoria. SAUVCA & CTP (South African Universities Vice-Chancellors' Association & Committee of Technkon Principals) (2003) Response to Proposed Criteria for hte HEQC's First Cycle of Audits 2004-2009, SAUVCA, Pretoria. Singh, M. (2000) The HEQC and the Challenges of Quality Assurance in South African Higher Education, unpublished, Pretoria. Trow, M. (1999) In Quality Management in HIgher Education Institutions, Vol. 3 (Eds, CHEPS (Center for Higher Education Policy Studies, U. o. T., The Netherlands) and QSC (Centre for Higher Education Research and Information, O. U., UK)) LEMMA, Utrecht, pp. 9-34. Ulrich, W. (1983) Critical Heuristics of Social Planning: A New Approach to Practical Philosophy, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., Chichester, UK.  However, for the purposes of this paper, I have not focused on the role of the client in the typology descriptions as students tend to be involved in the implementation of QA but not significantly in its design and planning.  Whilst academics in this model are still the affected, in terms of Ulrichs definitions, that they also become involved as the power shifts and control of the evaluation is placed in their hands.  The data gathered for this paper largely bears out this expectation.  Education White Paper 3: A programme for the transformation of higher education, 1997, Higher Education Act, 1997 (Act No. 101 of 1997), National Plan for Higher Education, 2001 and A New Institutional Landscape for Higher Education in South Africa, 2002. .  With respect to accreditation, self-accreditation status means that an HEI will be authorized by the HEQC to re-accredit its own existing programmes through its own quality management system, but all new progammes will still have to be accredited by the HEQC initially. 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