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Title: The role of heads of department in achieving quality : a case study of a high-ranking university in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Author: Al-Tuwayjiri, Hissah Abdullah
ISNI:       0000 0004 7431 6999
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2018
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The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) is governed by an absolute monarchy, with a relatively short history of Higher Education (HE). However, the need for high quality and strong educational leadership within its academic institutions is just as pressing as elsewhere. Despite a growing number of studies on the performance of Heads of Department (HoDs), there is relatively little research investigating their role in Quality Assurance (QA), and virtually none within the KSA context. The present research is grounded in ‘leadership’ and ‘HE quality’ literature. A case study approach was adopted to investigate HoD perceptions of their roles in QA at a leading Saudi university. Data were collected through 59 online questionnaires administered to the HoD participants as well as through interviews with 36 selected HoDs, a former university rector and various staff members with QA responsibilities. The data collection is probably unique in so far as the female researcher conducted face-to-face interviews with 26 male academics, despite the strict gender segregation normally observed in KSA. The study found that most HoDs acknowledged their QA role and that their beliefs and actions in this regard were influenced by their disciplinary affiliation and length in post. Identified challenges in quality achievement included limited resources, a lack of financial and administrative autonomy, heavy workload and bureaucracy and resistance from senior colleagues. Participants also identified several ways that the work of the National Commission for Academic Accreditation and Assessment, a key body in the quality achievement context within KSA, might be improved. HoDs claim they are heavily involved in QA but other staff are critical of their contribution. The new system for appointing HoDs is seen as enhancing departmental quality because the Selection Committee increases faculty involvement and reduces patronage. The two-year term of office is deemed too short for QA purposes. Although professional development opportunities are available, HoDs say they do not have time for them. Based on these findings, a theoretical model linking different QA approaches (compliance, consistency and culture) to different outcomes (achieving accreditation, maintaining standards, and change and improvement) has been developed. The study also makes practical recommendations about Saudi HoD recruitment, professional development and institutional support of value to policymakers in KSA higher education.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: LB2300 Higher Education