Quality standards implemented by universities worldwide have been updated to cover everything from how to welcome new students to records management.
The International Organisation for Standardisation has launched a package of detailed guidelines to help universities and colleges to apply the latest version of ISO 9001:2000.
Alan Bryden, ISO secretary-general, said: "When an organisation implements a quality management system based on ISO 9001:2000, it ensures that it uses its resources, assigns responsibilities and manages its processes with the twin objectives of continual improvement and satisfying the requirements of its customers."
While the standard does not dictate course content, it requires that courses be updated regularly and take account of the latest data. It also identifies students and funding sources as customers of a university, for whom the best possible service has to be provided.
The Standards Council of Canada claimed that introducing ISO 9001:2000 had "changed attitudes quite significantly".