Higher education quality assurance staff have been told that it is “about time” that they did more to demonstrate the value of their activities.
Jeroen Huisman, professor of higher education at Ghent University, told the European Quality Assurance Forum that “surprisingly little work” had been conducted on the impact of its members’ efforts.
Professor Huisman said that, while individual institutions’ quality assurance activities had appeared to produce positive results, far too little large-scale research had been undertaken.
“I think we have been working in the area of quality assurance for more than 20 years now, it is about time we knew much more about the impact,” said Professor Huisman, formerly professor of higher education management at the University of Bath.
The event was held at the UCL Institute of Education from 19 to 21 November as plans for what is designed to be a less burdensome system of quality assurance are considered in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Giving the opening keynote address, Professor Huisman said that universities’ quality assurance activities were “largely disconnected” from the experience of academics on the “shop floor”.
He added that the gap between academic and administrative staff conducting activities such as quality assurance was growing, as support workers increasingly focused their efforts outside institutions given the changing funding environment.
“In many higher education institutions there will be an internal divide between those preoccupied with the core tasks of teaching and research and a lot of [support staff] in a circle around that but...[not] talking the same language.”