New arrangements for the assessment and management of quality have been introduced recently into higher education systems in many parts of the world.
These arrangements arouse enthusiasm and cynicism in roughly equal measure.
The enthusiasts proclaim an array of benefits to higher education institutions and the people who work and study in them.
The cynics see, at best, futility and, at worst, serious damage to the academic enterprise.
So far, neither party has had much evidence on which to base their views.
But this book makes an important start in providing that evidence.
It reports a series of case studies on managing and assessing quality from twenty nine institutions and seven national quality agencies, gathered from seventeen countries; and it also draws upon other relevant research.
It does not paint a black and white picture but suggests that managing quality can bring either benefits or threats depending very much on how it is undertaken, in what context and for what purpose.
The authors argue that quality management is as much about power, values and change as it is about quality, and that is why it is frequently a source of controversy and conflict.
That is why it matters. This book is based on a project supported by the Programme on Institutional Management in Higher Education (IMHE) of the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development, headed by John Brennan and supported by the European Commission, and is co-published with the OECD.
It is essential reading for university leaders and managers, senior academics and policy-makers, and scholars and researchers in the field of higher education policy and practice.