Convergence of Quality Assurance Paths in Romanian Universities: Drafting a Set of Indicators

Convergence of Quality Assurance Paths in Romanian Universities: Drafting a Set of Indicators

Valentina Mihaela Ghinea (Bucharest University of Economic Studies, Romania)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5998-8.ch021

Abstract

When it comes to the quality of education, despite the general adhesion related to its importance, one can notice a number of opinions frequently contradicting themselves. The intention of delimitating, systemizing, and prioritizing the multitude of quality facets simply enhances the criticism. These circumstances prompt a more thorough analysis of the quality in education. Focusing on the perspective of the European Higher Education, this chapter proposes a set of convergence indicators that are able to capture the relationship toward which universities evolve. The indicators are then tested against the opinion of several experts from Romanian Higher Education Institutions, analyzed, and subjected to careful revision based on the respondents' answers.
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Introduction

According to Australian Learning and Teaching Council, ALTC, (2010), the perspective from which higher education is analyzed has undergone change. Currently, it is considered an economic product, and that, as all economic goods, raises an obvious interest to be fully followed, especially regarding its purchase, which is represented by graduates hired. Hence, there is a growing interest from governments and funding agencies to measure students' employability through the measurement of learning outcomes and hiring processes.

The frame is that of the Bologna Process whose primary objective is to promote transparency, mobility, employability and student-centered learning (Bologna Declaration, 1999). However, engaging governments in cooperation and development of compatible and comparable higher education systems translates into the need for transparent national and international criteria and quality standards, which leads to setting up different goals, objectives, structures, curricular features, etc., of the various higher education institutions.

Moreover, Bologna’s last report (Trends V) debates the measures that must be taken after 2010. These measures focus on transferring attention from governmental and legislative actions to implementing reforms in institutions, enhancing the employability of graduates, opening a dialogue and improving partnerships with stakeholders, and ensuring that the new structures are taken into consideration by employers (European University Association, 2007).

Given that most European countries have universal enrollment for primary and lower secondary education, policies that improve the quality of schooling in terms of students’ cognitive and non-cognitive skills could provide long term benefits.

There is a positive relationship between attending school and the employment rate, proven by the records of Eurostat and the European Commission: the higher the degree of education is, the higher the employment rate (Eurostat Yearbook 2010, Commission of the European Communities, 2009). This reality could be undermined only by the quality of the education. Thus, according to Institute for Research in the Sociology and Economics of Education, IRSEE, (2007) and European Commission Education and Culture, ECEC, (2006), the quality of education, measured in terms of student performance in cognitive and abilities tests, produces substantial gains in the labor market, both for the individuals and for society.

All of these resulted in an inclusion of the convergence of different quality assurance systems associated with the European Higher Education Systems on the Bologna’s list of debated topics.

The challenge has proven to be a great one: not only that identifying quantitative indicators able to adequately capture the qualitative evolution of the quality management systems is a difficult task, but also the cornucopia of possible approaches of the quality, important not to be neglected given their interrelated actions and effects, makes the mission rather difficult.

Therefore, in an attempt to facilitate the better understanding of the above presented subject of interest and also to tap a possible solution under the form of a set of indicators, the present paper analyzes the convergence of quality assurance paths. This analysis, which is the result of research limited to the Romanian universities, is broadly presented below.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Quantitative Performance Indicators: Performance Indicatorsindicators, such as the input and output, that are rather associated with the measurement of quantity and value, and expressed in numerical values.

Qualitative Performance Indicators: Performance indicators, such as the outcome and the process, that are more often associated with descriptions based on observations, than with exact numerical measurements.

Motivation: The complex state consisting in having a vision, the necessary impetus and confidence for taking into the plunge, and then overcoming the obstacles, in order to achieve the desired result. This state could be frequently obtained by means of a cumulus of financial and non-financial rewards developing intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, and seldom by means of genuine intrinsic motivation, as well.

Dynamics of the Labor Market: The continuous change of the jobs number and nature, entries and departure from the economic activity, as well as the continuous modification of the main requirements and/or feature of the most suitable best candidate profile.

Employability Rate of Graduates in Their Field: The fresh graduate’s ability of getting a job in accordance with their specialization.

Lifelong Learning Programs: The continuous development of a person through various forms of formal or informal education, or even self-education.

Quality Management: The overseeing of all the activities within an organization capable to maintain a certain level of excellence. The focus is not only on the quality of the final product or service, but also on the necessary means to achieve it.

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