Quality Practices: An Open Distance Learning Perspective


Global transformation in higher education over the past two decades has led to the implementation of national policies in order to measure the performance of institutions in South Africa. The Higher Education Quality Council (HEQC) adopted the quality assurance (QA) model for the purposes of accountability and governance in South African Higher Education. The first Council of Higher Education (CHE) audit, encouraged a compliance mentality through a ‘tick box’ mentality, thereby encouraging compliance of minimum standards. Thus, quality assurance audits became a ‘feared’ phenomenon in all higher education institutions in South Africa. The complete lack of stewardship in addressing the culture of quality and its’ implications for continuous improvement has led to inefficiencies in the entire higher education landscape. In this paper the ‘fuzzy’ and perhaps ‘slippery’ nature of quality is addressed through a critical analysis of the concepts of development, enhancement and assurance in relation to the quality of teaching and learning in higher education through a case study methodology using qualitative analysis in an open distance learning institution (ODL). The key argument is that although quality is important for improvement, practices at the institution are not changing in the way they should because of a quality culture that is determined by the Department of Higher Education and Training. Hence the research question is to determine the status of quality with a view of recommending total quality management as a strategy that would enhance the practice of quality in the organization. Therefore, this paper explores the current quality practices with the intent to improve the delivery of teaching and learning in an ODL environment.

KEYWORDS: Quality practices, open distance learning, total quality management, quality management, re-engineering.