M. Saraiva, T. Nogueiro

Universidade de Évora (PORTUGAL)
The world is changing rapidly and education is a political priority of the foreground. The high-quality human capital is developed in the educational systems of high quality. The wider international community believes that an approach that does not focus on higher education can leave companies dangerously unprepared for survival in tomorrow's world. Malcolm Gillis, President of the Rice University (in AULP, 2000) refers "Today more than ever in human history, wealth or poverty of nations depends on the quality of higher education."

Generally, the process of Total Quality Management (TQM) is implemented in the industry and in services through the adoption of a set of principles. The implementation of those principles guides organizations towards the improvement of quality standards. Deming, Juran and Crosby are some of the theorists that presented a group of principles to improve the quality process in an organisation. In order to minimize the obstacles of such principles implementation process it is necessary to adapt them to the culture and philosophy of the institution. Therefore, an education institution should also be able to implement a process of quality improvement either the Total Quality Management process or any other.

This scientific study intended to analyse, in a methodical and accessible way, the relevant information about Total Quality Management, leaning over essentially on the 14 Deming's principles, and whether the technical Total Quality Management technical, developed by this “Guru” of the quality, could be applied in Portuguese higher education. For this reason, a questionnaire was applied in two Portuguese Higher Education Institutions: the ISCTE and the University of Évora. In the implementation of those principles it was taken into consideration the possible obstacles and the potential benefits as it is acknowledged there importance and relevance to the improvement of quality.

The results of this study showed a group of possible difficulties and benefits as a result of the Philosophy of Total Quality Management implementation, which can be attributed to the cultural characteristics of the institutions This study also concluded that in the two Higher Education Institutions it´s possible to implement some of the 14 of Deming’s principles and that their correct application could allow them to go forward from quality to excellence. However, it is important to point out that those principles should be applied in a flexible way, in agreement with the specific needs of each organization.