Quality of Higher Education Systems

  • Ross WilliamsEmail author
  • Gaétan de Rassenfosse
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-017-9553-1_38-1



The degree to which a system of higher education meets personal and national needs in an efficient manner.

The “quality” of a national system of higher education is a multidimensional concept. Quality is most frequently measured in terms of outcomes, but outcomes depend on the input of adequate resources and favorable public policy – themselves measures of quality as they signal government commitment to education. The relationship between inputs and outcomes provides a measure of value added or efficiency that represents a further element of quality. A well-performing system requires appropriate quality-ensuring processes to be in place at both the institutional and national level. Reputation is yet another dimension of quality. It combines a multitude of measures, but in essence it is a summary measure of past values of actual performance.

Quality must be evaluated against the missions of the system. In very general terms,...


High Education High Education System Quality Assurance Measure International Ranking National Qualification Framework 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Altbach, Philip G. 2013. Advancing the national and global knowledge economy: The role of research universities in developing countries. Studies in Higher Education 38(3): 316–330.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Aghion, Philippe, Mathias Dewatripont, Caroline M. Hoxby, Andreu Mas-Colell, and André Sapir. 2010. The governance and performance of research universities: Evidence from Europe and the US. Economic Policy 25: 8–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Blanco-Ramirez, Gerardo, and Joseph B. Berger. 2014. Rankings, accreditation, and the international quest for quality. Quality Assurance in Education 22(1): 88–104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bologna Process. 2009. Standards and guidelines for quality assurance in the European higher education area, 3rd ed. Helsinki: European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education.Google Scholar
  5. de Rassenfosse, Gaétan, and Ross Williams. 2015. Rules of engagement: Measuring connectivity in national systems of higher education. Higher Education 70: 941–956.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Douglass, J. 2016. The new flagship university: Changing the paradigm from global ranking to national relevance. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Enders, Jürgen, Harry de Boer, and Elke Weyer. 2013. Regulatory autonomy and performance: The reform of higher education re-visited. Higher Education 65(1): 5–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Harvey, Lee, and James Williams. 2010a. Fifteen years of quality in higher education. Quality of Higher Education 16(1): 3–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Harvey, Lee, and James Williams. 2010b. Fifteen years of quality in higher education (part 2). Quality of Higher Education 16(2): 81–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hoareau, Cecile, Jo Ritzen, and Gabriele Marconi. 2013. Higher education and economic innovation: A comparison of European countries. IZA Journal of European Labour Studies 2: 24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. OECD. 2005. Guidelines for quality provision in cross-border higher education. Paris: OECD.Google Scholar
  12. OECD. 2013. OECD skills outlook 2013: First results from the survey of adult skills. Paris: OECD.Google Scholar
  13. Salmi, Jamil. 2007. Autonomy from the state versus responsiveness to markets. Higher Education Policy 20: 223–242.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Universitas 21. 2016. U21 ranking of national higher education systems 2016. http://www.universitas21.com/article/projects/details/153/executive-summary-and-full-2016-report. Accessed 28 May 2016.
  15. Van Dyke, N. 2005. Twenty years of university report cards. Higher Education in Europe 30(2): 103–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Webber, Karen L. (ed.). 2016. Institutional research. Boca Raton: Taylor and Francis.Google Scholar
  17. Williams, Ross, Gaétan de Rassenfosse, Paul Jensen, and Simon Marginson. 2013. The determinants of quality national higher education systems. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management 35(6): 599–611.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Woodhouse, David. 1999. Quality and quality assurance. In Quality and internationalisation in higher education, 29–44. Paris: OECD. http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/education/quality-and-internationalisation-in-higher-education_9789264173361-en

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Melbourne InstituteUniversity of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.College of Management of TechnologyEcole polytechnique fédérale de LausanneLausanneSwitzerland