A study of how QA has transformed universities over the last decade
This thesis is about how Quality Assurance (QA) has influenced the practices and
identities of academics and university administrators. The reasons for engaging with these
questions are both personal and professional. Writing as a university accounting lecturer
troubled by the social role the QA movement has played in HE, I have adopted critical and
Structured in four parts, the first section outlines my research questions, discusses
important methodological issues and presents details of the research design and methods.
The second examines the origins and context of QA and focuses on particular aspects of
university identity and discoursesG, overnmentp olicy and the movementt o QA. The third
presents ethnographically informed case studies of two different universities, one post and
one pre 1992 university; and the fourth, a comparative and thematic analysis and
The conclusionsa re that QA is experienceda s somethingo ther than a public accountability
tool to safeguard standards. The QA phenomenon has developed particular discourses,
both from above and from below, concerning presentation, performance and
performativity. There are different identities and discourses used by men and women
within and across the two universities studied which reflect wider critiques of QA.