QUALITY MANAGEMENT SYSTEM AT SIAULIAI UNIVERSITY: THE ASPECT OF INTEGRATING MODELS AND STANDARDS
Article 41 of the Law on Higher Education and Research of the Republic of Lithuania (2009) obliges every institution of higher education to have the internal quality assurance system, based on provisions of the European Higher Education Area and representing philosophical, methodological imperative realism under some particular standards and / or models. In order to ensure the quality of offered education, activity aids and means are to be planned: to coordinate the strategy of higher education on political, institutional and departmental levels by understanding the quality as being the integral part within interrelation between all processes in universities. The need for the quality management system is stressed by the European documents – provisions of the Bologna Process, the European Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance (ESG, 2005), ideas and results of the pilot project Tuning Educational Structures in Europe as well as other related documents.
However, no mentioned documents, imperatives or Lithuanian laws and legal acts identify the concrete model the institution of higher education should select in order to improve the activity quality on various levels and to ensure the quality of studies, science, research as well as sufficient input to the society. Under the academically based freedom, universities construct and adapt the most popular models and standards ensuring the quality, such as requirements of ISO standards, CAF and EFQM models, SA 8000 standards and others. Therefore the reality faces the scientifically based problem – consideration of advantages versus disadvantages of imperatives within the context of integrating various models and standards with an aim to develop one optimal model, which would ensure the quality improvement.
Aim of the research – quality management system at Siauliai University from the aspect of integrating models and standards.
Research methods: content analysis, case analysis.
Siauliai University quality management system (further – QMS) has been developed under the example of Finnish Jyvaskyla University, CAF methodology, ISO 9001:2008, ISO 9004:2010 standards, the Law on Higher Education and Research of the Republic of Lithuania, documents of the Bologna Process, Siauliai University Strategy and Statute, Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area as well as other legal acts of the Republic of Lithuania. The main advantages of integrating the mentioned ISO standards and CAF model are the constant as well as periodical cyclic assessment of quality indicators as required by the university and under the set limit of achievements in this particular sphere (internal assessments) as well as following requirements, set in documentations (audits of processes), where each action is planned under priorities (CAF model) appearing as the result of assessment; and after its implementation, it is set as the requirement (ISO 9001, ISO 9004) for some appropriate activities to transform into the tradition. The main limitations – even if integration of the mentioned standards with CAF model maintains the attention on the main processes, QMS still requires additional expenses, time, human resources (implementation of assessments, audits, development and application of priorities) as well as the policy, developing the special quality culture (support within the managerial level, community motivations and initiatives).