Quality assessment of higher educational institution services

Table of contents: The Kazakh-American Free University Academic Journal №3 - 2011

Author: Mukhamediyeva Ardak, East Kazakhstan State University in honor of S. Amanzholov, Kazakhstan

East Kazakhstan State University in honor of S. Amanzholov, Kazakhstan

Nowadays higher professional education becomes a social structure performing certain functions in society and education. Knowledge is becoming a factor of development. The experience of world’s leading economic systems lays emphasis on the capital investment in education [1]. One of the ways of it is the raising of the educational level of the population and the spreading of higher education. The working out of an adequate policy of higher education development suggests the consideration of a number of common and specific questions concerning the usage of modern limited resources with maximum efficiency. The development of market relations in the country required revising the paradigm of educational process development and made for the necessity to attract economic instruments for efficiency increasing by means of educational services quality improvement.

The analysis of the modern state of the sphere of higher education shows that the problems of higher education financing, the strengthening of competitiveness between higher educational institutions, predictable demographic reduction in the number of consumers of educational services are reflected in the quality of educational services of higher educational institutions. Socio-economic realities put forward new demands to the quality of higher education.

Quality nowadays is becoming the leading strategy of a number of organizations and is considered as the main component of competitive advantage. It especially concerns the system of higher education directly linking education with real economy of the country. Cardinal changes of modern socio-economic development of Kazakhstan require a considerable increasing of creative potential and competitiveness of graduates [2]. The solution of this global task is determined by the realization of a complex of measures for improvement the system of higher professional education. The problem of the effectiveness of educational organization management becomes very important among these measures. Besides, such educational organizations are found being under the conditions of growing competitiveness and have to revise traditional approaches to the management of educational process taking into account modern market demands. As it is known, market dictates its demands in agreement with consumers’ demands. Consequently, the improvement of skilled personnel management and training is of great importance for socio-economic development.

Once having faced with the necessity of education quality raising it should be kept in mind that the object of training and education is always a personality: it always stands at the input and output of educational process. Therefore, the main objective of educational process is the successive satisfaction of all types of consumers according to the principle of increase. Thus, the result of education is set in the form of complex personal changing relating to his/her ability to take a certain social, productive, and economic niche as a producer and a consumer.

The basis of the process of needs analysis is the active quality marketing [3]. Unlike product marketing the study of educational and scientific market is often combined with the understanding of consumer’s inability to clear form his/her demands. At the same time there emerges a complex problem of advanced influencing the market, i.e. formation of future demands for further satisfaction. The factors influencing the quality of educational process are the following:

- an instructor is the basis of the process as he/she passes not only the knowledge but also his/her experience, skills, and life position.

- a student who is also the source of knowledge but not all instructors can use it;

- the environment of education and life including an informational one;

- motivation to study (is to be based on the creation of conditions under which the result of training is directly connected with success on a labor market);

- the study and the reaction of educational process to the change of the environment;

- the modularity of education as an instrument of innovative process. There is a point in seeing the department as the carrier of certain knowledge processes and the assistant of students in their decisions on complete individual educational programs provided the accomplishment of minimum requirements of the State Compulsory Standard of Education within certain schools and specialties;

- internationalization, i.e. the competiveness of a course or an educational cycle in domestic and foreign markets relating to graduates’ skills recognition. The course is to be oriented to the world level of achievements in the same area;

- students’ orientation to the participation in market relations either as consumers or producers;

- the creation of conditions for cyclic renewal of knowledge. Students are to remain the clients of higher educational institutions even after graduating.

Unfortunately, educational standards consider quality planning as the conformity with the established list of courses with the possibility of introducing variable regional and internal components. The standards do not contain the requirements to a specialist, as for a four-year term qualification values could change. Thus, the standards requirements can be considered as not a quality criterion but as a safety criterion (the course will not make the position on a labor market worse). Consequently, the content of education quality must be formulated and assessed by higher educational institutions themselves taking into account their position on the regional, Kazakhstani, and international markets.

It is impossible and not necessary to directly transfer business models to education but all the universities of the world are now facing the same problem as commercial organizations: how universities can work more efficient “producing” graduates of higher quality?

Under the conditions of resources’ limitedness, customers’ instability, and competitiveness the decision on the strategy of higher educational institutions becomes of vital importance. The state considers the mission of higher educational institutions as the training of high-skilled specialists and the meeting personal needs of intellectual, cultural, and moral development. Besides, higher educational institutions are to develop science by means of scientific researches and creative activity of research and educational personnel and students.

On the basis of the mission the objectives to ensure development continuity are worked out. The number and quality of higher educational institutions production give the characteristics to their scientific, educational, economic, and managerial activities. The output is the values made by higher educational institutions [4]. When working out the strategy much attention is to be paid at the improvement of both quality and quantity of the output. Besides, higher educational institutions are able to create other external values, such as to form cultural sphere in the region.

When rationalizing the development strategies of such complex organizational systems as modern higher educational institutions it is necessary to predict the consequences of every development variant. Mutual influence of main components of higher educational institutions should also be taken into account. They are the managerial resource of administration, educational potential, research activity, administrative and social components, capital construction, etc. The quantity of such factors amounts to tens and sometimes hundreds of them. For instance, annual reports of some foreign higher educational institutions include more than 200 features in the sphere of scientific research. The objective of predicting is not solved by traditional methods that complicates the evaluation of long-term consequences of taken managerial measures and lowers the effectiveness of institutions management. At the same time, in modern economic situation the price of mistakes in higher educational institutions management increases manifold. Thus, the working out of the methods of systemic description of complex organizational systems functioning and their implementation is very topical.

When predicting complex educational systems the method of qualitative modeling is very effective. The advantages of the method include little needs of information concerning the mechanisms of interaction of separate variables in a model-based organizational system, possibilities of considering the given system as a whole, the simplicity of description of dynamic processes of its main indices changing, the use of different types of variables (of numerical and non-numerical structure), the quickness of results, the simplicity of their interpretation, a flexible structure of the model, and the simplicity of its supplement and reconstruction.

Due to its advantages, the given method finds more application in nature management projects, complex ecological systems analysis, in studying the mechanisms of technological and natural risks regulations [5], in predicting the results of technical re-equipment of industrial structures, etc. The method of qualitative modeling makes it possible to predict the perspective states of higher educational institutions for different alternative variants of their development and is effective for the practice of managerial decisions taking [6].

Nowadays some experience of such models working out has already been accumulated.

In agreement with the current notions of higher educational institutions as managerial objects we can single out the following criteria for educational services quality assessment: literature provision (Л), material provision (О), labor stimulation (С), teaching quality (П), students’ knowledge level (З), and teaching staff’s participation in research activity (Н). These criteria are traditionally used for the State Certification of institutions.

Hereafter, the factors Л, О, С, П, З, Н are marked as Х1, Х2, Х3, Х4, Х5, Х6., respectively.

Hence, the model of educational services quality can be presented as the following:

К = f(Х1, Х2, Х3, Х4, Х5, Х6) , (1)

Analytically the given model is formed on the basis of statistical data processing by means of regressive analysis methods. The given model is then presented in the formula (2) [7].

К = a0 + a1Х1 + a2Х2+ a3 Х3 + a4 Х4 + a5 Х5 + a6 Х6 , (2)

where ai is a coefficient of linear regression, i=0,1,2,3,4,5,6.

But the given modeling is complicated with the complicacy of getting necessary statistics as the influence of the indices on educational process quality is generally of qualitative or subjective character.

Thus, to model the higher education quality assessment (К*) the following heuristic equation can be used [7]:

К* = (b1Х1* + b2Х2*+ b3 Х3* + b4 Х4* +b5 Х5*+ b6 Х6*) (3)

Where * stands for the quantitative expression of the index

To assess bj the following formula is used (4)

, (4)

where Нj is the normative expression of j-qualitative factor

bj shows the part of Хj from К*, i.e. bj can be considered as a coefficient of factor priority in the development and raising educational quality, determining the degree of j-factor influence К*.

At the same time the following conditions are to be taken into account for Хj factor:

(5)

Having calculated bj in the formula (4) the following type of relation is determined (according to the state normative levels of indices presented in the State Certification procedures):

К* = 0,00027Х1* +0,74971Х2*+ 0,00012Х3* +

+0,09371 Х4* +0,06248 Х5*+0,09371 Х6*, (6)

The given relation, taking into account the condition (5), makes it possible to assess the quality of educational services of different institutions. Moreover, on the basis of the relation it is possible to determine the educational services quality within certain speciality.

All qualitative factors of the model being presented in a quantitative way by means of bj Хj calculation make it possible to define the weakest index of the institution which requires increasing. Its application does not seem difficult as all indices are contained in annual internal reports of all institutions and their departments.

The given model was applied to assess the quality of educational services provided by two state universities and a private one of East Kazakhstan. The results are presented in Tables 1-3.

Table 1 – The evolution of educational services quality indices (University 1)

Years

Х1*

Х2*

Х3*

Х4*

Х5*

Х6*

К*

2008

0,039

0,042

0,024

0,029

0,041

0,070

0,245


2009

0,039

0,055

0,030

0,022

0,039

0,075

0,260

2010

0,040

0,048

0,035

0,034

0,041

0,084

0,282

2010/08,%

102,56

114,29

145,83

117,24

100,00

120,00

115,10

Note – calculated by the author.

The analysis of estimated data of Table 1 indicates the increasing of the educational services quality index of University 1 over the last three years by 15,1%. The reasons of positive quality evolution are the improvement of teaching staff’s work stimulation and the increasing of research activities of the personnel. But the literature provision indices (Х1) and the students’ skills quality indices (Х5) need further increasing as their evolution made up only 2,56% and 0%, respectively.

Table 2 – The evolution of educational services quality indices (University 2)

Years

Х1*

Х2*

Х3*

Х4*

Х5*

Х6*

К*

2008

0,038

0,052

0,039

0,032

0,036

0,082

0,279


2009

0,033

0,060

0,039

0,029

0,038

0,095

0,294

2010

0,044

0,060

0,047

0,035

0,037

0,100

0,323

2010/08,%

115,79

115,38

120,51

109,38

102,78

121,95

115,77

Note – calculated by the author

The analysis of quantitative indices of Table 2 indicates the increasing of the total quality of educational services by 15,77 %. It is also explained by the improvement of teaching staff’s work stimulation and the increasing of research activities of the personnel. The least growth is observed for the factor of students’ skills quality indices (Х5) – 2,78%.

Table 3 – The evolution of educational services quality indices (University 3)

Years

Х1*

Х2*

Х3*

Х4*

Х5*

Х6*

К*

2008

0,038

0,067

0,020

0,031

0,037

0,075

0,268


2009

0,038

0,082

0,027

0,028

0,039

0,084

0,299

2010

0,039

0,090

0,033

0,036

0,040

0,097

0,334

2010/08,%

102,63

134,33

165,00

116,13

108,11

129,33

124,63

Note – calculated by the author.

Similarly to the above calculations, the analysis indicates the increasing of the index of material provision, the rise in staff’s salary, and the increasing of research activities. As a result, the quality of educational services of University 3 over 2008-2010 increased by 24,63%. The weakest points are the literature provision factor (Х1) and the student’s skills quality factor (Х5). The evolution is 2,63% and 8,11%, respectively.

Table 4 – The evolution of educational services quality indices (Universities 1, 2, 3)

Universities

2008

2009

2010

2010/2008,%

1

0,245

0,260

0,282

115,10

2

0,279

0,294

0,323

115,77

3

0,268

0,299

0,334

124,63

Note – calculated by the author.

The analysis of total indices of Table 4 indicates the following: the least level of educational services quality is observed in case of University 1 (the lag is observed for the whole period); the most level of evolution is indicated in a private University 3 (due to the university’s management orientation to international cooperation and, consequently, the possibilities to attract highly-skilled instructors including foreign ones, the research activity financing, and the renewal of material and technical basis).

Therefore, the given relation can help to determine the quality of educational services annually and to compare the index evolution relating to one institution or all institutions. The analysis of quantitative indices makes it possible to determine the weakest points of the educational process of tested institutions.

By substituting real values the quality of educational services can easily be assessed. Normative values for bj are found in the reports of State Certification of the institutions.

The given relation may contain a great number of qualitative factors. Moreover, when assessing the annual quality level we can also assess the level of self-development of an institution by means of comparing К* of the current year and К* of the previous year. Let us suppose a higher educational institution meets the requirements but if we compare the levels of quality indices with the previous ones we will see the self-development index has remained the same, i. e. the quality of training is the same but, if taking into account the time, it is lower. We cannot say that all enumerated indices are to be increasing constantly. But if we consider the specific proportions of indices we will be able to find the problems requiring financing and to determine if it has been fulfilled.

Therefore, it is necessary to take into consideration the regime of institutions development in the sphere of quality or positive evolution of all objective indices. The assessment results may be included in the State Certification results. Moreover, further state forms of education development stimulation are to be sent to the organizations with the highest indices of the development regime, i.e. the encouragement mechanism is to be used (additional grants and subsidies, etc.).

The assessment of educational services quality according to the given model gives the following advantages:

- Higher educational institutions are able to assess and follow the quality evolution over a certain period of time;

- Higher educational institutions are able to determine the problems of educational process and to take measures for their correction.

REFERENCES

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2. Кушербаев К. Е., Ахметов А. К. Стратегия развития высшего образования в Республике Казахстан. – Алматы: Билим, 1998. – 232 с.

3. Мутанов Г. О реализации стратегической задачи повышения качества образования в Казахстане // Высшая школа Казахстана. – 2003. – №1. – С. 8-17.

4. Гартуш Ю. А., Кайдаров К. К. Программно-целевой метод управления качеством учебного процесса. – Алматы, 1989. – 78 с.

5. Управление риском: Риск. Устойчивое развитие. Синергетика. – М.: Наука, 2000. – 431 с.

6. Боженов М. С. Высшее образование как социальный институт // Вестник КазГУ. – 2001.– №1. – С. 82-89.

7. Корголиев У.И. Экономические аспекты управления качеством образовательных услуг вуза: автореф. … канд. экон. наук: 08.00.05. – Махачкала: ГОУ ВПО, 2006. – 24 с.



Table of contents: The Kazakh-American Free University Academic Journal №3 - 2011

  
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