Quality Management and Assurance Drivers in the 21st Century University
The paper is centred on the need for quality management and excellence for improved university performance in a changing environment. Quality implies standards and some degree of measurements. Prof. Obayan noted the importance of leadership in determining the level of progression of a university.
The speaker outlined the fundamental position of quality in the scheme of things. Taking cue from Philip Crosby’s postulation, “Quality is the result of a carefully constructed cultural environment. It has to be the fabric of the organization”. Prof. Aize Obayan interrogated the concept of standards (internal and external) and their relevance to cultural environment. This implies that standards have measurement of varied degrees. The concept of quality was tied to excellence which was traced to the classical antiquity in the philosophies of Aristotle, which hold that excellence is not an act but a habit. Thus, people are what they repeatedly do. She stressed that quality management needs to be improved and adapted to the changing circumstances.
Prof Obayan defines quality as “the degree to which a set of inherent characteristics fulfils requirements”. Quality management drives towards meeting certain needs. The needs could be that of the internal or external community. The university manager should therefore address certain needs germane and relevant to the society. There should be a clear definition whose standard should be followed. What defines quality involves changing paradigms, innovations, and stretching the frontiers of knowledge.
Quality, according to Joseph Juran, is fitness for use. The questions that come to mind are: whose use? What product? Where in the 21st century? Professor Obayan addressed these issues by contending that since people live in an ever-changing world order with its attendant fleeting paradigms, they must continue to catch up with its dynamics. This involves keeping pace with opportunities for improvement and results. This is against the background that things that seemed impossible in the past have all been demystified. Relevance is very important. There is a need to determine the extent to which change is driven in local universities and this would produce students that are relevant to the needs and demands of modern society.
The presenter identified the major characteristics of change, which revolve around globalization and improved technology. These have necessitated massive change in global politics, climate, cultural and social order. The intervention of technology and internet services have narrowed spaces and interrogated boundaries. This can be seen in the case of CT scans, MRIs and ultrasounds in the hospital services.
She further noted the imperatives of accessing and processing information in the 21st century. Some of these manifestations of information exchange include internet services, speed of information processing and analysis via computer services, and other technological applications. These were regarded as indicators of the fleeting position of contemporary realities which are occasioned by science and technology.
Professor Obayan identified the five quality drivers in the century as:
Quality Driver No 1: 21st Century
- Greater value on knowledge workers
- Boundaries are increasingly irrelevant
- Penalty of failure is higher
- Serious generational perspective difference
Quality Driver No 2: The changing nature of requirement
- Redefining our products and services
Quality Driver No 3: The relevance of change
- The challenge of relevance
- The measurement of relevance
- The parameters of relevance
Quality Driver No 4: Benchmarking and Measurements
- The new instruments of quality measurements
- Redefine quality in the light of emerging realities
- Measuring emerging ideas
- Devicing new principles
Quality Driver No 5: Leadership
Leadership drives relevance and social change. It is therefore the quality of the leadership that determines the realization of goals. Leadership exerts the following fundamentals:
- People and group
- Goals and visions
- Directions of movement
People are thus expected to fully understand leadership vectors, lead quality revolution, exert leadership platforms because leadership is action not a position. They should situate their relevance within the orbit of leadership and create the platform to effect the desired change. She urged participants to be ready for the challenges of change without which the society cannot attain relevance.
Questions were asked relating to NUC recommendations being the benchmark for quality in terms of accreditation.
Responding, the speaker noted that quality is the totality that drives the university system. Hence, NUC accreditation should be the minimum requirement. Quality management is therefore beyond the issue of accreditation but a benchmark for high quality performance.
Dr. I. Kamalu
Dr. Koblowe Obono
Mr. I. Fortress
Ms. Angel Igbinoba
Miss Ajuma Abah
Mr. Nnamdi Humphrey