Quality Management in Administrative Services of the Italian Universities

Mario Tucci
Dipartimento di Energetica “Sergio Stecco”, Università degli Studi di Firenze, Italy

Luca Cellesi
Dipartimento di Energetica “Sergio Stecco”, Università degli Studi di Firenze, Italy

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Publicerad: 2008-02-15


ISSN: 1650-3686 (tryckt), 1650-3740 (online)


The implementation of Quality Management Systems (QMS) in University has many peculiar aspects. For instance; the individuation of three distinct fields of application is possible: in fact QMS can be implemented in teaching; research or administrative supporting processes and often there’s no integration among those systems.

One of the most significant consequence of this situation is the difficult individuation of all the university stakeholders and the definition of their roles in the QMS. Possible university stakeholders are listed below:

  1. students
  2. families
  3. industries and economical subjects
  4. society
  5. professional orders
  6. graduates
  7. researchers
  8. professors
Professors are a very peculiar case; because their roles radically change focusing on different application fields. Considering teaching or research activities; they are certainly the main actors. Professors are responsible for teaching programs; including lessons; examinations; students’ tutoring and so on. Professors are also responsible of laboratories activity and research projects; experiments; contracts and publications.

Therefore; QMSs relating to teaching or research are strictly connected with professors involvement in those processes.

But when the focus is on administrative supporting processes the role of professors radically changes: they become the most important and demanding stakeholders; as they are the main users of the service provided. A considerable number of central administration offices (or decentred ones) dedicate to professors support the greater part of their activities.

The “Good Practice” project; promoted and guided by Milan Polytechnic School since 2000; demonstrated that we can’t even forget that the professors’ roles change from an university to another: for example there are activities that are completely managed by professors in some university; but that elsewhere are under other structures control. Moreover; sometimes professors decide and execute an activity; while somewhere else they only take a decision; leaving the execution to clerks. Undoubtedly; every university trying to implement QMS has to carefully consider this aspect in order to establish which is the exact role of professors in their organization and to correctly define all the responsibilities. In this case good practices individuation and analysis can help to point out critical elements; while solutions from similar situation can be learned. The investigation described below is just an example of this approach.


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[2] Catalano G. - Valutare le attività amministrative delle università. Aspetti metodologici e buone pratiche - Edizioni Il Mulino; Quaderni del Comitato nazionale per la valutazione del sistema universitario pp. 296 (2004)

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[4] Lomas L. - Embedding quality: the challenges for higher education - Quality Assurance in Education Volume 12 Number 4 pp. 157-165 (2004)

[5] Srikanthan G.; Dalrymple J.; - A synthesis of a quality management model for education in universities - International Journal of Educational Management; Volume 18 Number 4 pp. 266- 279 (2004 )

[6] A. E. Osseo-Asare; Longbottom D.; W. D. Murphy - Leadership best practices for sustaining quality in UK higher education from the perspective of the EFQM Excellence Model - Quality Assurance in Education; Vol. 13 No. 2 pp. 148-171; 2005

[7] Sirvanci M. B. - Critical issues for TQM implementation in higher education - The TQM Magazine; Volume 16 Number 6 pp. 382-386; 2004

Web sites

[8] “Good Practice Project”; http://www.cnvsu.it/indagini/programmi_ricerca/view.asp?ID_PDR=8

[9] “CampusOne CRUI Project”; http://www.campusone.it/?Arg=128

[10]“European Union Bologna Process”; http://www.eua.be/eua/en/policy_bologna.jspx

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