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Enhancing the provision of quality higher education by institutions in Durban Metropolitan area.

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2018

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Abstract

This thesis served as a pilot study that examined a set of ideas drawn from the existing literature grounded in the concept of quality and its assurance in higher education institutions. The study examined the various understandings of the concept of quality, the factors that affect the provision of quality higher education, and the important leadership quality dimensions that can strengthen and enhance the provision of quality higher education in institutions of higher education in the Durban Metropolitan area. To answer the study`s research questions, a phenomenological research design was employed to eliminate or affirm the specific premises from the literature examined to identify the phenomena by soliciting for the personal knowledge, perspectives and interpretation of the concept of quality by the selected respondents of the study. In-depth interviews with 23 senior managers of the selected public and private higher education institutions in the Durban Metropolitan area, consisting of the Deans and Heads of Schools; Quality Assurance Directors; Senior Lecturers and Academic Leaders, served as the primary method for data collection. The findings suggested that quality is a complex issue that challenges the higher education institutions, evidenced by the considerable variation in different understandings of quality and its assurance in the institutions of higher education among the participants in the study. The interviewees raised a coterie of factors that impact on the provision of quality higher education by the studied institutions in the Durban Metropolitan area. Inadequacy of internal quality standards coupled with the limited understanding of the policies and procedures were among the commonly raised factors as impacting the provision of quality education across the institutions examined. The respondents also raised concern over lack of financial resources and limited availability of other resources, such as poor quality teaching accessories and poor staffing. Students` mindsets and attitudes towards learning coupled with non-conducive teaching and learning internal environment negatively impacted the provision of quality education. The need to accommodate the poor and vulnerable social groups in the society; lack of management commitment to culture of continuous quality improvement and political undue influence, coupled by some underhand dealings were unanimously cited as the major factors that affect effective provision of quality higher education among the Durban Metropolitan institutions of higher education. There were variations in the perceptions of the participants on what constitutes leadership quality dimensions that can strengthen and enhance the provision of quality higher education by the institutions of higher education. The findings ranged from the need for leadership ability to foster a culture of leadership influence of desired behaviour among team members to achieve quality outcomes through participatory and teamwork leadership style; visionary and strong leadership compliance with quality assurance policies and procedures; and quality value driven leadership focus. The study contributes action-based solutions to the problem relating to provision of quality education by the Durban Metropolitan institutions of higher education. The recommended actions are of managerial implications for the field, which includes the need for a balance between the internal-external dichotomy of quality and its assurance understandings and conceptualisation by the institutions of higher education in the Durban Metropolitan. There is need for a convergence in conceptualisation of quality and its assurances in line with the guidelines provided by the Council on Higher Education and other relevant statutory pronouncements in the higher education sector. The study also reiterates the need for leadership driven organisational quality and assurance policies that clearly cascade down to every team member in the institutions of higher education in the Durban Metropolitan. There is need for the leadership of the institutions to develop strategies to overcome the identified impediments to achieving quality outcomes and cultivation of a culture of compliances among the institutional team members. Recommendations for future research concluded the study.

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Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration in Graduate School of Business and Leadership. University of KwaZulu-Natal,Westville, 2018.

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