EDEV_503 Week 8_7

Thanks for replying to my question. I feel, however, that there are more new questions than answers to be drawn from that. You mention that a major task for UNAB is the creation and implementation of a quality assurance system that is forward-looking and can prepare for the contingencies of future accreditations. I’d like to focus on how institutions (or more precisely, organisations) can prepare for the future using indicators from the present. In particular, I wonder how organisations may develop learning capabilities that may insure against future learning decline.

Yorke (1999) links the role of higher education with the notion of a “learning society” (1999, p. 15) emphasising the need for society to become forward looking. However citing Barnett, he states that “The development of a societal capacity for self-learning, thereby enabling the transformation of society to be a process of rational self-development” is an underdeveloped facet of society. Senge (1990) describes five “component technologies” (p. 5), i.e. cognitive facets, of learning organisations. Combined, these technologies help organisations learn, and while not being future-proof in themselves, may offer some protection against the unknown.

To say that the future is unforeseeable is perhaps an overstatement. Yokoyama’s (2010) study suggests that patterns of higher educational change are indistinct. Centralised or decentralised, public or private institutions change according to their own internal forces, and change cannot be predicted based on the type of institution (Yokoyama, 2010). Yet, certain types of prediction are possible. Paliulis and Labanauskis (2015) outline an excellent case for benchmarking as a methodology for improving quality management in higher education in Lithuania, which “uses external quality assurance as an instrument for regulation of for the control of higher education” (p. 147). Increasingly, quality assurance will move from assessing internal factors and look towards the best practices observable globally as Azman, Pang, Sirat and Yunus describe in the Malaysian context (2014).

While not simple, and certainly not without contention (Azman et al., 2014), I think that benchmarking offers suggestions about what is likely to put pressure on higher education institutes in terms of quality assurance.


Azman, N., Pang, V., Sirat, M., & Yunus, A. S. M. (2014). Teaching and Research in Malaysian Public Universities: Synergistic or Antagonistic? In J. C. Shin, W. K. Cummings, A. Arimoto, & U. Teichler (Eds.), Teaching and Research in Contemporary Higher Education: Systems, Activities and Rewards (pp. 255–276). Dordrecht: Springer.

Paliulis, N. K., & Labanauskis, R. (2015). Benchmarking as an Instrument for Improvement of Quality Management in Higher Education. Business, Management and Education, 13(1), 140–157. http://doi.org/10.3846/bme.2015.220

Senge, P. M. (1990). The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization. New York: Doubleday.

Yokoyama, K. (2010). The Patterns of Change in Higher Education Institutions: The context of the changing quality assurance mechanisms in England, Japan, and New York State. Tertiary Education and Management, 16(1), 61–80. http://doi.org/10.1080/13583881003629848

Yorke, M. (1999). Assuring quality and standards in globalised higher education. Quality Assurance in Education, 7(1), 14–24. http://doi.org/10.1108/09684889910252496

About theCaledonian

Scot living in north Japan teaching at a national university.
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