Peter James Wells
An Integrated Model for the Quality Enhancement of Higher Education: A Romanian Approach with Global Application
Debating the role of a university in society has been, over the last decades, the topic of numerous studies, peer-reviewed articles and books, all calling for new and wider reflections on the critical role that higher education (HE) must play in modern society today. In various forms but echoing one voice, these reflections have acknowledged the major role of higher education institutions (HEIs) as knowledge generators and repositories, with an obligation to equip each generation with skills for viable employment and to provide rational, enlightened and opportune criticism and appraisal in major sectors of social, public and economic life. Additionally, higher learning institutions serve as leading bodies in civil society and the state in forming both cohesive and tolerant communities. Even if the value of a university degree might depend on to whom the question addressed, the ideal role of the university must be understood beyond institutional reforms, teaching tools, teaching approaches, modernization, economics and diversity.
In the context of sustainable development, forging an education system that is apt to address the demands of a multidisciplinary and holistic approach that contributes to producing skilled, socially, environmentally and economically responsible individuals represents a social contract that joins universities to society. This approach nonetheless needs constant redefining in a context of ever-growing global competition. Providing a quality education is therefore the basis for creating sustainable development. As a multi-dimensional process, quality is represented both institutionally in terms of the university's image, and its internal dynamics as well as external support, and individually, in its client stakeholders (students, employers, community) to whom it must deliver according to established high standards. Fundamentally, quality assurance (QA) is about ensuring that standards are at all times clearly specified as well as consistently met. As the world develops and economic realities change, ever more is required from HEIs, as centres of knowledge transfer, innovation and community development.