The need for continued improvement to the experience of students and staff in higher education institutions (HEis) is now a common clarion call. One way to respond to this strong request for something to happen is for HEis to employ total quality management (TQM) as a Corporate Strategy.
A critical component of the TQM is its focus on improving the customers’ (students) experience and ensuring that employees (staff) are up to speed with their professional development and training. This is achieved through their involvement and by consulting with them. The other component is to improve the product. In the case of HEis, this includes teaching and other related services. Again this can be done by involving staff and students in the process. These I may address in another article.
Reasons for implementing TQM in HEi
The implementation of TQM as a corporate strategy in HEis is necessary for a number of reasons. Firstly, as outlined above, it has the potential to enable a response to the call for improving the students’ experience by involving students and staff in determining the direction and vision of the institution. It is now an established fact that people are inclined to engage fully in activities created or facilitated by them. Secondly, involving and consulting with students and staff enables activities and developments such as infrastructural changes, re-assignment of personnel and the introduction of new models, to be viewed in a positive light and improved upon incrementally.
How to implement TQM
Firstly, there is the need to define the term ‘quality’ and clearly point out actions and thoughts which indicates quality in the institutions as this relates to staff and students. This has to be done according to departments and functions, students and staff.
Secondly, there is the need to get staff and students’ ‘buy-in’ by creatively stating and reinforcing the fact that TQM is not only relevant to the mission and mandate of the institution but will enable efficiency to be the ‘hallmark’ of the institution and the service offered to staff and students.
Thirdly, to implement TQM in HEis requires the cooperation of senior and other management staff in the process of creating and implementing policies in this regard. This is a challenging task for the leadership and several factors such as financial resources, institutional culture and gaining the commitment of those in management at all level must be considered when making and implementing policies.
Finally, for TQM to be implemented in any HEi require a strong institutional support in the form of leadership, guidance and resource allocation. Also critical to the success of TQM implementing is the ‘political will’ and fortitude of a few key people in leadership who are willing to wrestle, argue for, implement and evaluate the strategy. Any lack of effort or resources will undermine the success of a TQM strategy and may cause overall failure.