by: Katrina Quinn
While scanning LinkedIn recently, I came across an interesting statement that resonated with me:
“If you aim for the high bar of quality, you’ll get compliance. If you aim for the low bar of compliance, you probably won’t get high quality.”
The statement was made in reference to a restaurant, highlighting that if management’s strategy was solely focussed on compliance with health authority inspectors, they probably wouldn’t be in business for long. Rather, if the focus was on serving quality meals, providing quality service, and ensuring quality operational support, then the likelihood of compliance and commercial success was significantly greater. Compliance with health and safety, while important, does not guarantee a quality meal and customer satisfaction.
This resonated with me because it sits at the heart of many conversations I’ve had with clients about compliance with the Australian Higher Education Standards (Threshold) Framework 2021 (HESF) overseen by the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA). Of course, like the restaurant, without HESF compliance, there would be no ability to offer accredited higher education degrees. However, solely focussing on a ‘tick the box’ exercise – even with a talented compliance manager – won’t guarantee quality degrees, high student satisfaction and good commercial outcomes.
If we flip our thinking from “doing XYZ for TEQSA compliance” to “assuring XYZ so that students receive a superior education and successful outcomes”, then the mindset shifts to quality. The former mindset is a common pitfall that we see at DVE. Focusing on compliance, which is a ‘minimum threshold’ only, detracts from a culture of continuous improvement.
TEQSA recognises this. Indeed, its principal aim is to “promote and support a culture of effective self-assurance within providers—to ensure that they meet the Standards” without any compliance enforcement measures.
TEQSA expects to see providers investing in a quality culture with a framework for quality assurance in place to drive regulatory compliance and continuous improvement.
The return on investment when shifting to a quality culture can be significant. Apart from achieving re-registration, there are other far-reaching tangible benefits to a higher education provider.
Most successful businesses recognise quality assurance as a prominent part of their strategy. In higher education, an effective quality assurance framework standardises management systems, minimising errors, reducing inconsistencies in processes and reporting, and ensuring efficient gains and high-quality outcomes.
Implementing a quality assurance framework also drives innovation, resulting in highly competitive degrees known for great graduate outcomes, such as high student satisfaction and graduate employment. A quality student experience can increase the likelihood of continuing strong connections with the provider as an alumnus.
When more providers take a strategic approach to quality assurance, it underpins student and commercial success and a reputable national higher education system that can attract students and partnerships from across the world.
Want to establish a quality culture in your organisation?
If you would like to understand more about implementing quality assurance in your organisation, please contact Katrina Quinn, Director, Quality and Innovation, on 1800 870 677.