Effective quality management in Vietnamese higher education institutions
AuthorPhan, Thi Kim Loan
AffiliationMelbourne Graduate School of Education
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusOpen Access
© 2018 Dr. Thi Kim Loan Phan
Given the current efforts of Vietnamese HEIs to increase quality and catch up with world-ranking universities, it is worthwhile to examine the nature of quality management (QM) implementation in the Vietnamese context and culture. In seeking to go beyond the previous scant research systematically examining the management of quality assurance (QA) in Vietnamese HEIs, this study aims to investigate the nature of QM in Vietnamese public HEIs. Using a sequential mixed methods approach, the study provides a comprehensive and systematic analysis of the topic by (i) developing a conceptually rigorous and empirically validated framework of QM for Vietnamese public HEIs; (ii) investigating the nature of QM in Vietnamese public universities; and (iii) examining implications for national policy and HEI practice based on the outcomes of the research. The study examines the context of Vietnamese higher education as a rationale for the research and higher education and HEI definitions and relevant characteristics as a background for the analysis. To guide the design of a conceptual QM framework, it explores the major concepts of quality, QA, QM, and a modified Deming cycle. The potential influence of the Vietnamese national characteristics on QM implementation in HEIs is also explored via Hofstede cultural theory. This theoretical understanding helped with the review of the six meta-analyses on QM in higher education to establish essential dimensions representing good practices in world higher education which would potentially work in the Vietnamese context. For empirical validation, a review was administered to international and local experts in higher education and QM in higher education through a two-round survey. The findings yielded an empirically validated conceptual framework. This framework, in turn, directed the location of the relevant documents and guided semi-structured interviews at three selected public HEIs to obtain stakeholders’ insights into QM implementation. The findings of this stage contributed to identifying the implications for national policy and institutional operations. Evidence from the study shows that Vietnamese public HEIs are still at an early stage in QM implementation. The recent efforts to improve QA that emphasise performance-based assessment solved many weaknesses and pushed these HEIs to a higher level. However, they insufficiently accommodated unique institutional requirements, did little to support improvement and ultimately enhancement, and seemed to be underdeveloped in some essential dimensions such as information management and benchmarking. Not surprisingly, they met some resistance. The findings advocate the idea that QA is contextually and culturally dependent. To help make the QA system more consistent and supportive of sustained improvement and innovation, the study suggests a QM framework consisting of nine dimensions, namely, continuous improvement, leadership and management, information management, resource management, education and research management, stakeholder focus and satisfaction, partnership development and management, benchmarking within the institution and beyond, and healthy relationship management. The thesis recommends a compliance culture for the initial stage to develop a full commitment to QA from all stakeholders. For long-term strategies, trust and transparency should be strongly established through quality practices with a focus on national culture.
Keywordsquality; quality management in higher education; Vietnam; continuous improvement; leadership; information management; resource management; education and research management; stakeholders' focus and satisfaction; partnership; benchmarking; healthy relationship management
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