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The assurance of quality and standards in English higher education from 1992 to the present : an economic interpretation

Evans-Bibby, David (2004) The assurance of quality and standards in English higher education from 1992 to the present : an economic interpretation. EdD thesis, Institute of Education, University of London.

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Abstract

Abstract The thesis is a study of policy comprising an economic interpretation of the assurance of quality and standards in English higher education between 1992 and 2004. The core of the thesis is an analysis of the consequences of the regulatory agencies' attempt to tum the higher education product into a search good thus facilitating ex ante quality assurance. An economic interpretation is congruent with the 'marketisation' of higher education and of quality assurance, both of which are linked with market based practice. The semantic issues relating to the many possible interpretations of quality and standards led to a rationalization of terms via juxtaposition with the efficiency discourse of economics. The study is based on a three part theoretical framework. The trust good theory of professional knowledge is characterized by ex-post information asymmetry which renders the assurance of academic yardstick standards hazardous. The dyadic theory of the organizational architecture of universities implies tension between the transactional modes of academic peer group and managerial hierarchy with attendant danger of perfunctory rather than consummate co-operation in the implementation of quality assurance processes. The theory of the complex, vertically integrated university firm embodies a number of potentially separable products with different informational characteristics. Search, experience, and trust goods coexist with implications for the way that quality and standards might be conceptualized and assured when different parts of the process are the focus of attention by the regulatory agencies. The application of the theoretical framework to the various phases of the policy process analyses the way that quality and standards were articulated by the agencies .. The success of the attempt to convert higher education into a search good varies with the signal credibility of the 'specifications' which are derived. Excessive documentation production is a natural consequence of 'rational' economic behaviour under the Prisoners' Dilemma pathology.

Item Type: Thesis (EdD)
Depositing User: IOE Repository Editor (10)
Date Deposited: 15 Mar 2013 12:16
Last Modified: 05 Jun 2015 12:27
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