Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2021 Proceedings
Publication year: 2021
Pages: 8985-8991
ISBN: 978-84-09-34549-6
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2021.2064
Conference name: 14th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 8-9 November, 2021
Location: Online Conference
Coined in 2012, the Industry 4.0 (I4.0) term has gained a level of maturity that has made the 4.0 appellative to propagate to other sectors such as Society 4. (S4.0), Education 4.0, (E4.0) etc, mainly to refer to the implied digitalisation that comes implicit within the I4.0 as an industrial revolution. What do characterise I4.0 is not just to digitalise actual information and processes. I4.0 is also related to the need of rethinking the implied elements and their relationships [1].

A side, but not minor, repercussion of the internationalisation and globalisation of Higher education will come from the market point of view. Universities are starting to change their business models in order to attract best students and managing the changes in funding of research and education. The University will need to anticipate these trends and find innovative solutions to transform their business models to be 4.0. This will demand for excellence and quality in teaching as well as being innovative in research as part of the university branding and ranking positioning.

Higher Education can be assimilated to any other process production industry. Product quality is the key for keeping its position in the competing arena. As with so many other products, the concept of quality may be understood in different ways. In [3] there is noticed that, for what matters to higher education, different conceptualizations are possible: it can be used as a noun to denote status, as an adjective to describe value, and as a verb to explain the human transformation process.

In this paper we present a discussion on the role of quality in education in this new market arena from the perspective of branding. The relevance of quality in Higher education is to play an increasing important role in the years to come. However, as per the authors opinion, there are some gaps and difference in interpretations of such terms depending on the player. Universities want to play the game of rankings, therefore trying to sell the link between quality ang high ranking position (inferred quality). This, in turn, has a non-obvious link with fees, with his consequences. Students decide about their studies (well, in which University) on the basis of some expectations. However, it is not till they pursue their studies that do not perceive the quality of their experience (perceived quality). On the other hand, academic responsible establish the quality assurance mechanisms in order to guarantee the quality of the studies. Always within the framework of quality assurance agencies (ensured quality). In which sense do these quality perspectives match? Maybe it is very difficult, or even complex, to achieve this matching. However, we raise here the point that University leaders and managers should be involved on a continuous cycle of critic reflexion about the different sides of quality. By sure there are more than the ones mentioned above.

[1] G. Salmon. May the fourth be with you: Creating education 4.0. Journal of Learning for Development, 6(2):95–115, Jul. 2019
[2] Ernst & Young, (2019) Can the universities of today lead learning for tomorrow? The University of the Future
[3] Harvey, L., & Newton, J. (2005). Transforming quality evaluation: Moving on. Paper presented to the seminar “Dynamics and effects of quality assurance in higher education – various perspectives of quality and performance at various levels”.
Future University, Quality, Higher education market, Higher education masification.