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Quality Management In Higher Education-Role Of Students

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Total Quality Management is a philosophy of continuous improvement, which can provide educational institutions with appropriate tools to meet the needs and expectations of their students and other stakeholders, and it involves the role of regulatory bodies, management, faculty, society etc. The role of students can be of great importance if they are involved in the academic community. They can be involved in higher education enhancement committee, quality circles, academic audit system, elected student representatives, tripartite system and students associations at subject level for problem solving, decision making, evaluation etc. The students’ ability to see the situation from the perspective of a learner and they being the largest stakeholder investing time and money in education can make their contribution valuable and important for maintaining quality of higher education. This will help to attain the new objectives of higher education i.e. aim of self learning, teamwork, linking learning, adaptability etc. and the progress of the students will definitely lead to success of institutions of higher education.

Before discussing the role of students in higher education, let us understand higher education in management terms. Higher education can be considered as an organization. The students are the products of the organization and the management is the efforts put in by teachers, principal and supporting people to deliver their best. Now the question is Why Total Quality Management is needed for an organization. In order to answer this question we need to compare the earlier objectives of higher education and the objectives now. If we look why higher education was set up, it was to achieve the objectives of physical development, intellectual development, development of values, self and social knowledge development and vocational training. But with globalization and changing society, some changes are needed in the objectives of higher education. The new objectives can be aim of self learning, teamwork, linking learning, adaptability, uniculture and professionalism. According to David Thornburg (2002), a person should be comfortable with ambiguity because of the rapidity of knowledge-based changes virtually in all the professions. And secondly the person should be a lifelong learner which is an essential characteristic of successful person.
Keeping these objectives in mind, the role of total quality management (TQM) in education is of paramount importance. TQM, propounded by W. Edwards Deming, is a philosophy of continuous improvement which can provide educational institutions with appropriate tools to meet the needs and expectations of their students and other stakeholders. According to (British Standard Institution, 1991) the quality is the totality of features and characteristics of a product or service that bears on its ability to satisfy the stated or implied needs. According to Witcher (1990) TQM is composed of three terms:
Total: meaning that every person is involved including customer and suppliers,
Quality: implying that customer requirements are met exactly and Management: indicating that senior executives are committed.


Lecturer, Anand Vihar College for Women                           
The principles of Total Quality Management have been successfully adopted and applied in the field of higher education by developed countries such as Japan, USA and UK. In India, especially like Indian Institute of Technology and leading technical institutions are practising TQM philosophy. But TQM philosophy is not universally applied in India and wherever it is applied, the role of students have not been given much importance After going through researches conducted in the countries like Japan, England, Wales, Scotland, Finland, U.K. etc. where TQM has been successfully adopted in higher education, I feel that the Indian students can be involved in following roles:
i.    Higher Education Enhancement Committee- In this committee, the members can be educationists, people from administration, eminent faculty members,
stakeholders and student representatives who meet at a periodic interval. It would be a broad platform where discussions can be held at region, district or state level. It will be a platform for the students to express their opinions on the main problems, new implemented policy and give suggestions for improvement.

ii.    Quality Circles – A quality circle is an internal group of an organization in which faculty and student representatives along with principal and management meet at a periodic interval to discuss work related issues and to offer suggestions and ideas for improvement. As the students are the direct beneficiaries, the discussions regarding the students’ needs, way of improvement, even sources of funds etc. can be held for college improvement. It can also discuss the broader goals of cost reduction, productivity improvement, employee involvement and problem-solving activities. If necessary, outside experts can be called or hired.
iii.    Academic Audit System – Academic Audit is an educational exercise to assess and improve the performance of teachers, students, administrative staff and the whole institution in a holistic manner. In order to know whether the quality improvement methodologies have successfully percolated down to various constituents of any institution an ‘Academic Audit System’ should be implemented. In this a committee of principal, teaching staff and representative students can be formed who can review the performance of the institution as compared to other institutions of repute, achievements of the teachers, rate of admission, dropouts etc.
iv.    Elected Student Representatives – There should be systematic representation of students at all levels within an institution so that problems, ideas and suggestions from all the students can be known and conveyed to the higher authority.
v.    Quality Assurance – Students can be involved to play an important role in giving feedback so as to assure quality of teaching-learning process, new course, etc. The students can be asked to write down their feelings, problems and ideas on how to improve the course or their opinions about teaching-learning processes on a blank piece of paper. It is simple and effective way to collect feedback.
vi.    Students in the academic community – A tripartite system can be formed between the management, staff and student representatives at all decision making levels. Students can be seen as novice members. The students can be more significantly involved in the decision making process of the institution by participating in the tripartite.
vii.    Student associations at subject level - Students associations can also be formed at the subject level. In the association, there can be a member who conveys the problems of the students to the staff. It will benefit the students as well as staff and also assure quality management.
The question may arise why a student should be involved in management of the institution. There are many reasons for it
•     A student has the ability to see the situation from the perspective of a learner.
•    They are the largest stakeholder in higher education, investing time and money in education.
•    Students should be seen as partners in the academic community, because they often have a balanced view of the aim of the academic institution; on the cultural, political and historical aspects of the academic community, on the institutions’ role in society and on the future of the academic tradition. Their insight combined with factors such as the influence of their age, their peer group, and the time they live in, means that students may bring a valuable perspective into decision making of institution

Many of the persons would consider the students as inexperienced and incapable to be involved in the process of working of academic community. The students can be made more capable by giving training in problem solving techniques. Some seminars and workshops can be also held to create awareness in the students about the quality assurance tools. Also if there will be responsibility on the shoulder of the students, they will learn to act in a responsible way.
1.    Conclusion: Quality management is an important philosophy which should be applied in higher education all over India involving the contributions of all its members i.e. management, principal, faculty, society and most importantly the students. I strongly feel that involving the students will help to attain the new objectives of higher education i.e. aim of self learning, teamwork, linking learning, adaptability etc. and the progress of the students will definitely lead to success of institutions of higher education
2.    References:
1.    Sharma, R.A. (1992) Fundamental of Educational Research, New Agarwal Offset Printing Press, Meerut
2.    IGNOU (2009) Emerging Trends in Educational Management, New Delhi, Indira Gandhi National Open University
3.    IGNOU (2009) Total Quality Management, New Delhi, Indira Gandhi National Open University
4.    Joshi, J.P.  (2003) Globalisation: A Need for Change in Educational Management System, Research paper, M S University of Baroda, Baroda
5.    ENQA Student involvement in the processes of quality assurance agencies available at http://www.enqa.eu/pubs.lasso
6.    TQM Training–UK Total Quality Management Consultant available at http://www.training-management.info/tqm.htm
7.    Introduction to Quality Enhancement available at http://www. enhancementthemes.ac.uk/students/QualityEnhancement
8.    Implementation of Total Quality Management in Higher Education available at http://www.maxwellsci.com/print/ajbm/v2-9-16.pdf

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