Document Type



Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence

Publication Details

Quality in Higher Education' journal volume 18, no 1, April 2012.

Available from the publisher here


Higher education institutions worldwide invest significant resources in their quality assurance systems however little empirical research exists which demonstrates their effectiveness (or otherwise). Methodological approaches for determining effectiveness are also underdeveloped. Self study with peer review is a widely used model for ensuring the quality of the core teaching, research and engagement activities of higher education institutions. This paper illustrates how an established social programme evaluation methodology can be used to determine its effectiveness in leading to improvements in institutional performance. The concept of effectiveness and the particular challenges posed by the higher education organisational culture are considered. An example of the systematic evaluation of three self study programmes is provided to illustrate the concept. It is concluded that social programme evaluation has significant potential in evaluating the effectiveness of quality assurance initiatives in higher education.