Despite various provisos, in almost all areas of education – from schools over universities to institutions offering further education – quality management concepts from industry and economics have been in use. Among the most important concepts, which are also used in the field of education, are the following:
- DIN EN ISO 9000:2000
- various TQM approaches
- Balanced Scorecard
- Benchmarking procedures
- Procedures of self-evaluation with or without external assessment
(Note: Glossary terms only in German)
The application of quality management concepts from industry and economics in educational institutions has often been critically questioned. Moreover, for educational institutions, approaches were adapted, which should better correspond to the requirements of education as a “service”. In this respect, especially the following aspects were discussed against the backdrop of diverse challenges for schools and private enterprises:
- The distinctiveness of “education” as a product: The result of educational processes differs significantly from the production process of other products or services, because the product “education” can’t be delivered independently of the learner. The learner is thus asked to involve himself in a particular way, which does not apply to clients or consumers in other service processes.
- The lack of autonomy of educational institutions: In contrast to enterprises and companies, schools for example usually cannot influence elements that are central for successful quality assurance (selection of staff, selection of students etc.) In recent years, however, an extensive discussion has begun around the term school autonomy, the role of school supervision / supervisory boards as well as the input vs. output driven governance models of educational systems.
- The non-consideration of the quality of the specific interactions between teachers and learners, especially in the framework of process-oriented quality management systems like for example ISO.
In order to better meet the demands of educational institutions, quality management models have been created that are tailored for the area of education. Among the most important, mostly also in Austria widespread, approaches are the following:
- QIBB (Qualitätsinitiative Berufsbildung, Quality Initiative VET)
- LQW (Lernerorientierte Qualitätstestierung in der Weiterbildung, learner-oriented quality testing in further education)
- LQS (Lernerorientierte Qualitätstestierung für Schulen, learner-oriented quality testing for schools)
- EDUQUA (Schweizerisches Qualitätszertifikat für Weiterbildungseinrichtungen, Swiss certificate for institutions of further education)
- ISO (für Bildungseinrichtungen, for educational institutions)
Furthermore there exist, mostly in the area of further education, communities with seals of quality, i.e. associations of further education institutions which commit themselves to fulfilling minimum standards and criteria chosen by themselves.
Among these are in Austria for example: