Quality Assurance in Higher Education: Comparative Analysis of Provisions and Practices in Ghana and New Zealand
This research involves a comparative analysis of Ghanaian and New Zealand contexts and provisions of quality assurance in tertiary education. The study examined policies and practices of quality assurance in higher education in Ghana and New Zealand in order to identify those practices in New Zealand which are potentially applicable to the Ghanaian Higher Education context or which, at least, may suggest a direction for the Ghanaian government to consider for development. This study argues that although the management and practices of quality assurance in higher education in New Zealand are not without flaws, Ghana stands a better chance of tapping from the formers’ experiences in shaping its future policy direction. The quality of higher education and its improvement have always been issues of high priority on the political and educational agendas of the government and higher institutions in Ghana. Like other developing nations, Ghana has adopted various methodologies to address the question of quality in higher education similar to those in Western countries. The government of Ghana established a national quality assurance agency, the National Accreditation Board (NAB) to be responsible for quality assurance in higher education. Higher educational institutions have also adopted various processes and practices for the assurance of quality of the education provided. However, despite the fact that the literature on quality assurance framework in higher education is growing, little is available in the literature on what Ghana is doing to regulate and improve higher education quality and what has been the impact of NAB since its inception in 1993. In addition, a formal study of the commonality or diversity of approaches between Ghana and any developed nation has been lacking. A qualitative methodology was used to gain the perceptions of key practitioners in quality management systems in the two countries. Interview and documentary analysis were the main research instruments employed for data collection. The study analysed the views of a range of respondents from Ghana and New Zealand and documents from selected tertiary institutions and external quality assurance agencies in the two countries. A comparative analysis of data revealed some gaps and challenges in the Ghanaian system. This study found that though NAB has made significant impacts on the quality regime of the higher education sector in Ghana since its inception, the processes of quality management demands remains a challenge to both the institutions and NAB and much remains to be done for improvement. Quality of provision at the institutional level (internal structures, documented policies, external involvement, conduct of self assessment), and at the national level (regular monitoring, change in compliance approach, adequate qualified staff etc) are key areas requiring urgent policy attention if Ghana is to achieve the objectives of its tertiary educational reforms. On the basis of empirical evidence and life experiences from the respondents, a contribution would be made to the design of higher education policy-making with regard to the improvement of the internal and external quality assurance practices in higher education in Ghana. This study has further contributed to quality assurance literature by critically examining and comparing life responses of respondents from two countries viv-a-vis the international trend before making its recommendations. This study has further deepened the understanding of quality management practices in higher education in the two countries involved in this study.