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The Development and Impact of the Quality Assurance System on Higher Education in Taiwan

Hsu, Y-P; (2017) The Development and Impact of the Quality Assurance System on Higher Education in Taiwan. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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The purpose of this thesis is to analyse the development of the national quality assurance (QA) system, introduced in Taiwan in 2005, and identify the impact it had on four higher education institutions (HEIs), each with a very different mission and features. The study addresses two broad research questions: firstly, how has the current QA system developed in Taiwan, and what are its features and characteristics? Secondly, how do university staff prepare for and perceive the impact of the QA system undertaken by the Higher Education Evaluation and Accreditation Council of Taiwan (HEEACT)? The key features of the QA system are identified by using documentary analysis and interviews. The documentary analysis focuses on HEEACT publications. Having analysed the documents, policymakers who were involved in the development of the QA system were interviewed. A case study approach is utilised to analyse the perceived impact of the QA system on four universities. The four universities were chosen to cover the range of higher education institutions in Taiwan. Two are prestigious institutions which have received generous funding (one public and one private), while the other two (also one public and one private) are less prestigious institutions which have received less funding than the first two. Since 2005, the Taiwan government has distributed expenditure, and restructured higher education according to the results of the QA system conducted by HEEACT. All HEIs are therefore under pressure to meet the demands of the QA system as the results of evaluations will affect their resources and reputation, as well as whether they will be able to win competitive research and teaching funds. The HEIs perceive that in order to satisfy the requirements of HEEACT, they have to introduce new processes and structures, and the characteristics of individual HEIs have changed as a consequence. The Taiwanese approach to QA is a hybrid of different approaches to QA, including the accreditation system borrowed from the U.S.A. Its key distinctive features are that: (a) it evaluates both teaching and research within one single assessment exercise; (b) its results are used to determine resource allocation of the higher education system; (c) it has also been used to merge and close HEIs by the government; and (d) some of the terminology used is ambiguous. A number of organisational changes occurred in the four universities as they prepared for the QA exercise. The internal measures introduced were categorised into three types: rewards, staff evaluations and structures. However, the changes initiated in the four universities varied and are driven by their different features including their institutional purpose, mission and whether they are public or private institutions. Together, these changes have resulted in a new form of management in the HEIs and this can be seen as an unanticipated consequence of the QA system. The contrast between research-oriented and teaching-led universities has been sharpened by the QA system as it has forced Taiwan’s HEIs to choose one path or the other in order to be successfully evaluated by HEEACT. The public university with a good reputation built on its strong points and its original advantages and reinforced its position as a research-led university, whilst universities with less prestigious reputations were forced to focus on teaching regardless of whether they were public or private institutions. Academic staff also felt that they had to choose either to improve their teaching expertise or to focus on research in response to the QA system. The changes triggered by the QA system have influenced the nature of the academic profession and this, in turn, appears to have reshaped academic identities and professionalisation. This thesis offers three main contributions. First, the thesis has identified the distinctive features of the Taiwanese approach to QA. Although Taiwan’s QA system was influenced by Western approaches to QA, it is in effect a hybrid of different approaches, and represents its own distinctive QA model. Second, the thesis contributes to understanding the impact of QA systems on universities. By combining the approach from Morley (2004) with the model of Brennan and Shah (2000), the resulting analytical framework explains the impact of the QA exercise on HEIs in the context of Taiwan, and possibly in the East Asia region. Finally, the thesis contributes to the QA literature by analysing the differential impact of a QA system has had on four universities with very different missions.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: The Development and Impact of the Quality Assurance System on Higher Education in Taiwan
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1535451
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