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Meeting customer expectations : quality improvement of the IVE (Tsing Yi)

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posted on 15.12.2014, 10:43 by Martin Lai-chuen Chan
Over the last two decades, a considerable number of studies have been made on quality management issues in the field of education such as meeting the needs of students and parents. Yet, little attention has been given to that of the vocational higher education institute. In response to this gap, this study aims to review the operation and effectiveness of the quality assurance (QA) system at the IVE(Tsing Yi), and challenge the validity of various quality improvement approaches and concepts. Indeed, this is the first local research into this subject matter and two key stakeholders of the institute, namely the students and employers are involved. At a time when all forms of training are expected to meet the needs of the trainees and the industry, this study finds that there are several mismatches between stakeholder expectations in vocational education offered by the IVE(Tsing Yi). There is no consensus about the desirable balance between generic and vocational-specific skills and knowledge, which implies some of the quality management literature is controversial. For example, the findings bring out a problem with the idea of fitness for purpose, and suggest a more complex reality that quality cannot be defined by either the students or the employers. Rather, quality should be viewed through a multi-dimensional or layered approach, and vocational education needs to be responsive to different stakeholders. In addition, the study reveals problems in the performance indicators approach, in particular that it fails to provide prescriptive suggestions for service improvement. This study shows the student-centred approach is also a problematic view of quality management as most of the students do not grasp the trend of the labour market and the core qualities that the employers are looking for. In respect of reviewing the quality systems of the IYE(Tsing Yi), the results demonstrate that some performance indicators of the existing QA system do not represent the felt needs and expectations of the customers. This implies an urgent need for the management to review the existing QA practice in order to accommodate the ever-changing environment, and to satisfy the requirements of both accountability and self-improvement. In examining the results, a range of recommendations at the practice, policy and research levels are made.


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University of Leicester

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