Creative Education
2013. Vol.4, No.10A, 29-32
Published Online October 2013 in SciRes (
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 29
Applicable Quality Models in Higher Education in Argentina*
Lidia Giuffré, Silvia E. Ratto
Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Faculty of Agronomy,
University of Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Received July 16th, 2013; revised August 16th, 2013; accepted August 23rd, 2013
Copyright © 2013 Lidia Giuffré, Silvia E. Ratto. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative
Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium,
provided the original wo rk is properly cited.
The aim of this paper is the study of quality management systems applied to higher education. The spe-
cific objectives are to present different models of approach to the concept of quality education applicable
in Argentina: to study the legal framework governing university education, and to introduce considera-
tions about its evaluation. The National Education Law 26026/2006 is clear about State responsibility to
ensure quality education for all residents, and implementation of assessment policy to secure it. Accredi-
tation is the process commonly used to give public account of the degree of compliance of higher educa-
tion institutions. Periodic accreditation of undergraduate careers, whose titles correspond to professions
regulated by the State, is performed. External evaluations present evaluation reports that are public.
Keywords: Higher Education; Quality Models; Argentina
Quality is a word which needs qualifier, defining quality as
an attribute. Another idea is to consider it as a “standard of
excellence”. Rupérez Lopez (1994) evokes the reference to a
safe value, as an attribute or set of attributes of objects and
services that meet the expectations for the perception of citi-
It is essential nowadays to manage educational organizations
based on criteria of quality and continuous improvement, ap-
plied for some time in the industry. It is therefore interesting to
know the origin of these criteria and the feasibility of its appli-
cation in higher education institutions. Deming (1982) intro-
duced quality systems applied to industrial companies in Japan
after World War II, setting the fourteen fundamentals of man-
agement, one of which is established in order to constantly
improve the product and service, with the goal of being com-
petitive, which means continuous improvement. That country
applied the Kai-zen, a humanistic approach that is based on that
every human being can contribute to improving their workplace,
further emphasizing continuous improvement involving every-
one in an organization. A relevant Kai-zen principle is: “If we
do what we’ve always done, we will get beyond where we have
According to Vasquez Lema (2007), the meaning of “qual-
ity” is ambiguous, and there are various approaches to its defi-
nition. It could be considered that the required quality is ach-
ieved when it meets customer satisfaction, through a competi-
tive organization based on quality processes. According to ISO
9000:2000, quality is the degree to which a set of inherent
characteristics fulfills requirements. It then becomes essential to
study the internal processes and the optimization of resources.
Canton & Vázquez (2010) state that concept of quality, from
industries, was understood at first as a control focusing on re-
sults, but soon evolving towards more open models covering
indicators and processes. In the quality concept three levels are
represented: system, process and product. First, a series of
models were developed, framed in the product, after emerging
systems were oriented to a set of standards and regulations, and
finally the approach has focused on the processes that have
achieved significant development in all quality work.
Global transformations of the international order and the
progress of the reorganization of the world economy over the
value of technology have also targeted at education systems.
They bear the responsibility to generate and disseminate knowl-
edge in society and therefore they constitute the decisive in-
stance on the basis of the technological race (Aguerrondo,
Many of the definitions relating to quality have been based
on their assessment, identifying standards, criteria and/or re-
quirements, which can vary according to context, orientations
and social needs prevailing at a given time (Proyecto Alfa,
The aim of this paper is the study of quality management
systems applicable to higher education in Argentina. The spe-
cific objectives are to present different models of approach to
the concept of quality education, to study the legal framework
governing university education, and to introduce considerations
about its evaluation.
A documentary analysis of quality models is performed in
chronological order, the National Education Law 26026/2006 is
presented, and evaluation principles are consid ered.
Models of Quality Estimation
*Quality in higher education. In recent years there have been several models for estimating
the quality standards applicable to any type of company or or-
ganization, both private and public. Their objective is to im-
plement articulation between the components of the organiza-
tion, enabling the management and conduction of quality. A
summary of the main concepts are presented, as they could be
interesting for practical application in educ a ti onal concerns .
Malcom Baldridge (1982): The National Quality Award Mal-
colm Baldridge in the US was created in memory of the Secre-
tary of Commerce that prompted it. It is based on the concept
that Total Quality Management is necessary for organizations
to compete in the international market. The system is based on
the following concepts: leadership, customer focus, organiza-
tional and staff learning, participation and development of em-
ployees and partners, agility, responsiveness and flexibility,
future orientation, innovation management, public accountabil-
ity, focus on results and value generation.
EFQM (European Foundation for Quality Management,
1991): It is an example of theoretical framework and practical
application. This European model is useful for the evaluation of
educational institutions using homogeneous parameters to iden-
tify strengths, assess the quality of education and introduce a
culture of continuous improvement at all levels (Rios et al.,
2003). It is based on orientation towards results and customer-
oriented, leadership and constancy of people development and
involvement, continuous learning and improvement, collabora-
tion, social responsibility. It is easy to adapt to the educational
field, is based on self understood as comprehensive and sys-
tematic review of the activities and results. It is based on orien-
tation towards results and customer-oriented, leadership devel-
opment and people involvement, continuous improvement, col-
laboration, social responsibility. It is easy to adapt to the educa-
tional field, and it is based on self assessment understood as
comprehensive and systematic review of the activities and re-
Cajide, 1994: The author refers to higher education stating
that the definition of quality remains a controversy because of
the diversity of institutions and the definition of the functions
of higher education. The quality is associated with the level at
which targets are met, added level value that satisfies the user,
excellence of processes and results, proper development of
skills and abilities, training and efficiency.
De Miguel et al., 1994: They propose a multidimensional
concept of educational quality, considering various aspects:
Quality as excellence in relation to standards, and control on
products. Centers that promote quality culture. Quality as fit-
ness for purpose and needs of the clients and centers that ade-
quately cover the provisions of the legal framework. Quality as
an economic product: efficient centers and accountability.
Quality as transformation and change: improve student per-
formance and increase the added value, with organizational
development-oriented centers.
Norm IRAM 30000:2001: Educational organizations can be
treated as industrial organizations in the sense of combining
efforts for continuous improvement and implementation of
systems of quality management in their structures and in their
missions. The “Guide to interpreting the ISO 9001 for educa-
tion” (IRAM 3000, 2001) states that the adoption of a system of
quality management should be a strategic decision of the insti-
tution. It is applicable to any type of organization that provides
education, state run or private, within systems of formal and
informal education. For several decades the concept of quality
has been acquiring an explicit centrality in the field of higher
education. It promotes the adoption of an approach based on the
application of a system of processes within the organization to
apply the PDCA: Plan-Do-Check-Act, to take action in the
form of continuously improving process performance.
In the given context, education is the “product”, understood
as the improvement in the knowledge, intellectual skills, habits
and attitudes of the learner.
“Customer” is the organization or person receiving the prod-
uct, in an educational organization clients can be students, par-
ents or tutors, national State, provinces, city councils, employ-
ers, and the whole society is a stakeholder in the quality of
The sequence of processes should define the inputs (pro-
grams, teaching materials, qualified teachers, available and
appropriate facilities), the outputs (students with the expected
learning), the indicators of the process efficiency (test scores,
passing rate, dropout, net training time).
The quality of education as a totalizing concept and defining
axes (Aguerrondo, 2008): The author argues that the emergence
of the concept “quality of education” historically occurred
within a specific context. It comes from a quality result model,
with final product quality, adequate to concepts of social effi-
ciency ideology that looks at the teacher as an operator of in-
structional packages, with prefabricated objectives, activities
and materials, and in which the “quality” is measured by almost
isolated phenomena, which are reflected in the final product.
Her proposal is that the concept of quality is complex and
totalizing: the power of the concept of quality is that it is a to-
talizing concept, comprehensive, multidimensional, social and
historically determined: it is read according to historical and
cultural patterns that have to do with a specific reality. It con-
stitutes an objective image of educational transformation: in a
given society, the quality of education is defined by its adjust-
ment to the demands of society (which changes over time and
space). It constitutes a control pattern of the service efficiency:
efficient educational system will not be that with less cost per
student, but the one that, optimizing the resources, will be able
to provide quality education to the entire population. The axes
or dimensions that describe technical and pedagogical choices
can be grouped into three broad areas: epistemological axis,
pedagogical axis and organizational-administrative axis.
An example of monitoring of certain aspects for continuous
quality improvement in the Chair of Edaphology since 2007, is
the management of some simple items based on IRAM 30000
(2001). Within the “inputs” of the educational process can be
cited: available and suitable facilities, available and suitable
materials, and qualified teachers. The “outputs” refer to achieve
the expected learning by students, by controlling appropriate
teaching methods and appropriate evaluations. Teachers are
qualified, professors and practical work chiefs possess M. Sc.
or Dr. degree, and teaching materials are continuously im-
proved. The Chair has two books of his own: Edaphology: basis
and environmental applications in Argentina (2011); and Tea-
ching practices with pedological purposes (2013, in press).
National Education Law 26026/2006
This argentine law considers education and knowledge as a
public good and as personal and social rights guaranteed by the
State, it is a national priority and becomes a state policy to en-
courage the development of the nation. In ARTICLE 4 intro-
duces the concept of quality of education falling on the national
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
government, the provinces and the autonomous city of Buenos
Aires, “primary responsibility for providing an integral educa-
tion, permanent and of quality for all inhabitants of the nation,
guaranteeing equality, generosity and fairness in the exercise of
this right, with the participation of social organizations and
families”. In Chapter V: Higher Education, it indicates that
policies, regulatory mechanisms and criteria for assessment and
articulation concerning Higher Education Institutes will be
established in all jurisdictions.
Quality Assessment in Higher Education
The National Assessment and Accreditation Commission
(CONEAU) is an argentine government agency attached to the
Ministry of Education, responsible for the evaluation of public
and private universities and accreditation and accreditation of
their undergraduate and graduate careers and their correspond-
ing titles. External evaluations reports from CONEAU are pub-
lic. Consulting and advisory committees are constituted by ad
hoc experts. The members of the advisory committees act
autonomously, according to a code of ethics (CONEAU, 2011).
Quality in higher education can be defined as the degree of
fit between the actions that an institution, or academic program
launched to comply with the guidelines issued from his mission
and the institutional goals, and the results obtained by these
actions. Defining institutional purposes must necessarily con-
sider two dimensions:
1) External consistency means that it meets the requirements
of the external environment, which materialize in demands
from the labor market, the academic community or socioeco-
nomic particular environment. External consistency ensures the
relevance of the purposes and allows comparability between
institutions and programs.
2) Internal consistency means the translation of these require-
ments according to the own priorities and principles of the in-
stitution. This dimension allows deploying proactive capacity
of the university, and expanding the range of possible deals on
the higher education system, ensuring a diverse offering that
seeks to provide a comprehensive response to social needs.
Institutions need to inform the public about the extent to
which they meet the promises they make to students, employers
and society in general, as well as the use made of resources that
are public or private. Generally, the process used for this is
accreditation (Project Alpha, 2008), which consists of a special
evaluation process leading to a formal decision of acceptance,
rejection, or in some cases, conditionality, based on the degree
to which an institution or program meets the demands.
One of the functions of CONEAU is the periodic accredita-
tion of undergraduate careers whose titles correspond to state-
regulated professions. The Ministry of Education determines, in
accordance with the University Council, the list of titles whose
professional work would risk directly the health, safety, rights,
property, or the formation of the inhabitants.
Edwards Risopatrón (1991) considers that the assessment is
the process of investigation of an educational reality. It must be
considered that the meaning of education is diverse-or can be-in
different cultures, so that the evaluation of the quality of educa-
tion must be inserted into the framework of a cultural assess-
A relevant discussion is whether education can be considered
a product, as a result of a process, and if society as a whole is a
client of educational organizations.
According to Edwards Risopatron (2007), it may be consid-
ered that the quality is a value assigned to a process or product
in comparative terms, and that quality control is performed with
quality criteria set by a cultural arbitrary positioning involving
society, subject and education. Initially, educational products,
results, faculty, curricula were focused, and at present, the work
is process-oriented (Canton & Vázquez, 2010).
Under the ideology of social efficiency in conceptualizing
the quality of education, which is based on technical rationality,
quality refers to the efficiency of the educational process (Ed-
wards Risopatrón, 1991).
The ideology of social reconstruction, that considers that
education systems are aimed at meeting social needs, proposes
to develop in students a critical attitude in social, political and
cultural aspects, and repositions the centrality of the subject. It
implies a radical cultural change, which is to place the user as
the cornerston e o f education.
It is important to note the statement by Vázquez (2006): so-
ciety is in the aftermath of the industrial age, which was fol-
lowed by the information age, which could also be called “the
era of knowledge”. The countries not engaged in the concept of
quality in education, will be poor countries in this knowledge
There are different approaches to quality models in education,
highlighting the quality starting with orientation to results. Ac-
cording to the norm IRAM 30000:2001, education is a “prod-
uct”, understood as the improvement in the knowledge, intel-
lectual skills, habits and attitudes of the learner. The “client” is
the organization or person receiving the product, and there are
indicators of process efficiency.
The National Education Law 26026/2006 is clear on the re-
sponsibility of State to ensure quality education for all residents,
and implementation of assessment policy to secure its quality.
Accreditation is the process commonly used to give public
account of the degree of compliance of higher education insti-
Education systems aim to satisfy social needs, so this can re-
locate the user of education as the cornerstone of educational
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