University of Alicante (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2009 Proceedings
Publication year: 2009
Pages: 2611-2618
ISBN: 978-84-612-7578-6
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 3rd International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 9-11 March, 2009
Location: Valencia, Spain
Several studies have analysed the self-assessment process in manufacturing and service organisations in private and public sectors. However, although there are an increasing number of universities adopting self-assessment, little empirical literature exists analysing the self-assessment process in the education sector from an academic point of view.

The purpose of this paper is to analyse the stages and results of the self-assessment process, in order to identify the main strengths and weaknesses detected in self-assessment, together with any improvement actions derived from it. More specifically, universities may be evaluated in three major areas: teaching, research and service. This paper focuses on the study of quality assessment in services, indicating strengths and weaknesses detected in self-assessment and in the improvement actions defined, which, it is hoped, may prove useful to managers of other universities. In addition, in Spain, ANECA (National Agency for Quality Assessment and Accreditation) has been promoting the use of self-assessment methods for the implementation of quality systems in administrative services using a procedure similar to that used by the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) model.

Irrespective of the approach chosen, the generic stages for self-assessment are the following: developing management commitment; communicating self-assessment plans; planning self-assessment; establishing teams and training; conducting self-assessment; establishing action plans; implementing action plans; and review. The literature review suggests that self-assessment may be a tool for continuous improvement, because it identifies strengths, weaknesses and improvement actions. The implementation of such improvement actions will make it possible to improve the efficiency and quality of services in universities. Based on these ideas, the research questions are the following:

• How has EFQM self-assessment been carried out in university administrative services?
• Which results have been obtained (strengths, weaknesses and improvement actions)?

To respond to these two research questions, the case study methodology has been used. The interest of this research is to show a self-assessment exercise from 10 cases using quantitative and qualitative evidence. The sources of primary data were the direct observation of the provision of the service, answers from the team members and employees to the questionnaires based on the EFQM model, and the semi-structured interviews with the team members of each service. The secondary data were provided by certain internal documents from each service, i.e. self-assessment plan, written material produced during the process, objectives, indicators, materials from the training sessions, and improvement plans.

The findings show the steps that administrative services can follow in order to apply this exercise in a successful manner, and the results of this process (strengths, weaknesses and improvement actions). The value of the paper is that it provides lessons for managers from other universities who wish to develop a self-assessment exercise.
self-assessment, efqm model, quality management, higher education.