QUALITY ASSURANCE IN HIGHER EDUCATION: MONDRAGON UNIVERSITY´S JOURNEY FROM 1995

The demand for quality management of today’s colleges and universities, as well as the strengthening of their customer oriented approaches in interactions with students, enterprises, society and institutions in higher education has been increasing all over the time (Owlia and Aspinwall, 1996). Thus, higher education institutions have been implementing different frameworks, models and schemes for quality deployment, based on approaches and references that have evolved over the time (Mergen et al., 2000). Due to this evolutionary fact and the requirement to sort out the problems arising from the integration of these different approaches, higher institutions have the need to approach quality assurance from an efficient while integrated scheme (Houston, 2008).

In this context, the aim of this paper is to show the Mondragon University´s journey in the implementation of different quality schemes and models. The starting point of this journey was the implementation of ISO 9000 (Kraš et al., 2007) standard in the lifelong learning activity (closer to university-industry collaboration) in 1995, continuing with the deployment of process management schemes and the adoption of EFQM (European Framework for Quality Management), and finishing with the active participation on higher education quality evaluation regional and national programs.

Therefore, the case described in this paper explains the approach developed by Mondragon University as long as the experiences obtained, lessons learned and suggestions for institutions approaching this challenge. Thus, the experience highlights the important role of an institutional quality management strategy and holistic approach, the management based on processes, as well as the implication of all the staff and students on a participative management organisation (Coates, 2005).