Quality Assurance in Surveying Education

FIG Commission 2 Working Group on Quality Assurance

Prof. Peter Morgan and Prof. Robert Hodgkinson
Liverpool John Moores University, United Kingdom

Professor Stig Enemark
Aalborg University, Denmark
Chair of FIG Commission 2 1994–1998 



1.1 The Creation of a basic QA system
1.2 The Changing Climate in Higher Education

2.1 What is meant by Quality Assurance
2.2 The Results of Quality Assurance
2.3 Quality Terminology

2.4 Maturity of Quality Assurance approach

3.1 The National setting of Higher Education
3.2 The Institutional Context
3.3 Quality of teaching staff and staff development
3.4 Transparency in teaching and currency of programmes of study

4.1 Academic Power, Self Regulation and Funding
4.2 Attitudes of Governments
4.3 Other Cultural Factors

5.1 Introduction
5.2 Six Aspects of the Total Learning Environment
5.3 The Student Learning Experience - The Seven Characteristics of  High Quality Learning

5.4 Models which acknowledge the key roles of students and lecturers

6.1 The Models Programme
6.2 Using the Model



The Netherlands
South Africa
United Kingdom




The International Federation of Surveyors (FIG) is a UN non-government organisation, which represents the interests of surveyors throughout the world. The primary work of the federation is progressed through its technical/professional commissions, each of which is concerned with a different aspect of the work of the surveyor. This publication is developed through a working group within Commission 2, which is concerned with all aspects of professional education; although the main policy statement has been endorsed by all members of the Federation.

A central element of the work of the Federation relates to the enhancement of standards and professional competence. To achieve this objective FIG encourages the dissemination of best practice in both professional and educational matters. FIG also encourages the development and implementation of adequate procedures of quality assurance as an important means of managing the challenges of the future. This publication provides members of the Federation with information about quality assurance and its applicability in Surveying Education.

The issue of quality relates to all aspects of our professional life. And it is clearly a trend within the university world. The concept of quality assurance allows for a refocus from traditional control to a more managerial approach to university education. This publication seeks to expose some of the quality issues related to surveying education and to propose a model of quality assurance which can help institutions in member countries to enhance their educational programmes for the future. In this regard, guidelines are also given through examples of good practice from educational institutions throughout the world.

Prof. Stig Enemark
Chair of FIG Commission 2 1994–1998


Quality assurance (QA) in higher education (HE) is an international issue. Over the last decade it has become an important vehicle for securing change in HE institutions, with a view to enhancing the student’s learning experience. Consequently, enhancing quality has become one of the principal issues for many education institutions. Additionally, more stakeholders, such as the professional institutions, are drawn into the debate and seek to exert influence.

As part of this process, FIG Commission 2 has sought to examine and elicit models of quality capable of meeting the demands of an internationally diverse group of surveyors engaged in educating students in higher educational institutions.

This publication seeks to encourage the development of a network of stakeholders dedicated to enhancing the conditions necessary for high quality learning in surveying education. To support its findings, evidence has been sought by using an extensive questionnaire addressed to FIG members occupying academic posts in institutions of higher education offering surveying programmes.

1.1 The creation of a basic quality assurance system

The purpose of this publication is threefold.

First, to provide some guidelines on quality related matters to all those members who are active in either pursuing or influencing the development of surveying in higher education establishments across the world.

Secondly, to encourage a variety of approaches which take account of the particular circumstances and context of surveying education in different countries.

Finally, to provide pointers to good practice used in the delivery and teaching of surveying courses, which can be shared by members and applied to enhance student experience. Specifically, to offer a quality model for adoption and use.

1.2 The Changing climate in Higher Education

Today there is a growing appreciation of the transformative powers of higher education in underpinning the social, economic and cultural development of nations. It is regarded as a key element in the strategies of many nations seeking to cope with the challenges and opportunities presented in both today's and tomorrow's worlds.

"The second half of this century will go down in the history of education as a period of extraordinary expansion in qualitative transformations in higher education..." UNESCO, 1995

The reality in many countries, however, has been the struggle to maintain quality levels in HE against a backcloth of rapid expansion in student numbers and significant reductions in government funding.

The "quality gap" which can be detected between academic institutions in different parts of the world is often a direct reflection of the wider economic and social imbalances existing between developed and developing countries. Additionally, the insensitive application of Western European quality initiatives in certain countries, without recourse to detailed analysis of specific needs and circumstances, has led to the misdirection of scarce resources, with no increase in quality. Consequently, there is increasing awareness of the need for HE in each nation to fashion quality processes that fit the needs of their consumers and markets.


There is much confusion about the meaning of quality. It is often viewed as a vague concept, being dependent upon one's own perspective, occupational position and point of reference.

For example, the response of a lecturer involved in teaching students may be at variance with the perspective of their Principal/Vice Chancellor. The former may perceive QA as focusing on the teaching and learning experience defined in their relationship with individual students. The much broader orientation of the Principal/Vice Chancellor of a university would be likely to reflect distinct institutional and national contexts.

Quality management, quality assessment, quality assurance, and quality enhancement are often regarded as being synonymous, but this is not helpful. Debate has led to the promulgation of a wide range of definitions. However, what is not in dispute is that the provision of a quality approach both affects and can enhance students' learning.

2.1 What is meant by Quality Assurance?

In recent years there has been a surge in interest in quality assurance internationally, with governments determined to seek evidence of value for money from publicly funded higher education institutions. What is meant by quality assurance is dependent on a clear definition of what is being examined.

Within this report the focus is on both the framework and climate for the delivery of surveying programmes in higher education institutions across the world. Quality assurance is taken to refer to all those planned and systematic activities used to fulfil quality requirements in HE institutions and can be defined as:

"....the means by which an institution satisfies itself that the standards and the quality of its educational provision can be maintained and enhanced." (HEQC, 1995)

Quality assurance is usually demonstrated by documented systems comprising policies and procedures, linked to those formal monitoring processes provided by each institution. Its purpose is to provide a sense of order, continuity and confidence that issues impinging on the quality of the students' learning experience have been addressed in a formal manner which is reflected at all levels in the institution. It is often rooted in common approaches and standard ways of both undertaking and discharging activities, which facilitate comparison and benchmarking between university departments and programmes. Examples of these provided by FIG members in HE are set out below.

Internally imposed initiatives

Externally imposed initiatives

Central Assessment Regulations. Quality Assessment by government bodies.
Standard Accreditation procedures for new and existing programmes. Prescribed entry standards for students.
Procedures for monitoring programme changes and developments. Definition of syllabus content and duration of programmes.
Academic Codes of conduct. Appointment of external examiners.
Formal systems for staff appraisal and development. Conditions of appointment, job specifications and academic tenure.
Teaching observation of lecturers. Government induction programmes for new employees.
Formal processes to promote quality enhancing activity.

2.2 The Results of Quality Assurance

Outcomes may be either short or longer term, tangible or vague. They are:

The Benefits

The Disadvantages

A common framework to prescribe an institution's core activity. Complex systems may be difficult and expensive to manage and control.
A confidence that systems and procedures are operating. If changed too often, they may promote disillusionment in teaching staff.
A basis for monitoring and control. Difficult to understand and may require significant investment in staff development.
A basis for comparison and benchmarking across the institution. Can lead to bureaucracy and limit the introduction of quality enhancement measures.
A standard approach and capacity for incorporating best practice. Initial enthusiasm may not be matched with long term commitment.

2.3 Quality Terminology

Identified below are a number of definitions in common use, the majority of which emphasise the institutional perspective.

Quality Assurance

"The means by which an institution satisfies itself that the standards and the quality of its educational provision can be maintained and enhanced."

Quality assurance is usually demonstrated by documented systems comprising policies and procedures, linked to those formal monitoring processes provided by each institution. Its purpose is to provide a sense of order, continuity and confidence that issues impinging on the quality of the students' learning experience have been addressed in a formal manner which is reflected at all levels in the institution. It is often rooted in common approaches and standard ways of both undertaking and discharging activities, which facilitate comparison and benchmarking between university departments and programmes.

Quality Management

"That aspect of the overall management function that determines and implements quality policy."

Managing for quality may be seen as focusing on the maintenance of academic standards, referring to all those aspects which relate to and enhance the students teaching and learning experience.

Quality Control

"The operational techniques and activities that are used to fulfill requirements of quality."

Quality control verifies that those systems used to monitor the delivery of academic services are being carried out satisfactorily. Such controls seek to compare existing patterns of activity against a standard and to identify and rectify aberrant behaviour.

Quality Assessment

"The identification of those issues or problems which are attributable to the influence or impact of any scheme for the assessment of quality of educational provision in universities.

The emphasis is upon "measurability" against some framework, which represent dimensions of quality. For example, a model may prescribe specific aspects of quality and programmes of study are investigated to discover how close they are to the model.

Quality Enhancement

Refers to all those initiatives pursued as a result of reflection, evaluation or appraisal, which lead to the introduction of positive changes designed to improve the activities or process in higher education.

Quality enhancement is a continuing process involving all who contribute to the student learning experience. This process uses quality control procedures to monitor and check that each enhancing initiative satisfactorily introduced ready for the next periodic cycle of assessment of the quality provision.

2.4 The Maturity of the Quality Assurance approach

The degree of QA maturity in a higher education institution will obviously vary. For example, an institution displaying a well established quality system, developed over a number of years, should have characteristics, which are clearly distinguishable from a relative newcomer. To take this to the next stage, reference can be made to a matrix adapted from Crosby's (1979) method for measuring the status of an organisation's quality improvement processes which embodies five distinct phases:


As the institution confronts the issue of quality assurance.


As it takes the first steps to the implementation of its quality policies.


As it frees itself from prejudice and constructively addresses the issues.


As it seeks to implement its accumulated knowledge on quality enhancing activity.


Embodying the confidence that its quality provision is promoting quality learning experiences in students.

The above can then be matched against the following six categories in order to evaluate an institutions QA maturity.

Management Understanding

This reflects the institution's/department's attitude to quality activity i.e. the extent to which it has accumulated sufficient information to define its policies on quality.

Quality Organisation Status

The extent to which the institution/department is restructuring to facilitate quality initiatives in the form of systems and procedures.

Problem handling

The extent to which mechanisms are in place both to address and resolve issues in order to secure effective quality management.

Cost of Quality

The extent to which quality activities are prescribed by resourcing implications and the extent to which they are likely to secure value added.

Quality improvement actions

The extent to which enhancement activities are the norm.

Institutional quality posture

The institution's attitude to ensuring the underpinning of its activities with meaningful; and robust quality measures, embodying the principles outlined in the "quality cycle".

These elements can be combined to produce the matrix as shown below which can be used to diagnose the current status of an institution's quality provision. It provides a basis for mapping out the means for improvement and the relative strengths and weaknesses of the existing systems which can be used in conjunction with the quality model proposed in section 6.







Management understanding


Quality organisation status


Problem handling


Cost of quality


Quality improvement actions


Institutional quality posture



Having introduced QA at the local level it is now useful to consider how national and cultural factors have an effect on quality implementation. Case studies from different countries are described in the appendix.

3.1 The National setting of Higher Education

Quality in HE depends to a large extent upon the contextual setting of a specified system, the institution mission and standards within a given discipline. The following lists some of the contextual issues, which will impact upon the manner in which quality management at the national level is discharged.

  • The diversity and range of institutional structures, academic programmes, and the size and growth rate of the student population.
  • Size and location of institutions (including multi-campus and federated/ comprehensive universities).
  • State investment levels in HE, and any links with social, economic and cultural development strategies.
  • The range of funding sources (cost sharing between customer and state).
  • Inequality of student access, and concentration on less resource demanding fields of study.
  • Student body - age profiles and wider access context, the mix in type of learning - full, part-time distance.
  • The academic environment - the pattern of activity of lecturers (part-time or full-time), their focus on research and/or teaching, funding of academics including tenure, (whether or not academics work full time?).
  • Whether or not Surveying is represented as a separate disciplinary specialisation or part of a more comprehensive disciplinary context.
  • National attitudes to standards and awards.

3.2 The Institutional Context

Decisions concerning the following help to identify each HE department's unique approach to quality management, and will reflect the particular context in which they operate.

  • The organisation structure of the department with particular reference to the delegation of tasks and responsibilities.

This can be best represented by the degree of integration and control imposed by the structure. In some cases, such structures may be ill-defined; in others, a rigid framework may exist. Consequently, the degree of clarification and distribution of roles, duties and responsibilities will vary. The response may also be a reflection of the size of the unit and the level of consistency in structure imposed by the institution across its departments.

  • The way in which staff time is distributed between research, teaching and administrative/management responsibilities.

The ratio of support staff to teachers and the numbers of part-time lecturers also helps to characterise the uniqueness of each department. Such an approach may in some cases be formalised into tightly regulated time allowances prescribed for each activity undertaken by staff. This may have a significant impact upon academic freedom, goodwill and flexibility.

  • The impact of reduced resources.

This may impact upon staff development activity and ultimately teaching quality and the maintenance of a quality environment for teaching and learning.

  • The relationships between support staff, administration and teaching.

Their influence may be evidenced by the extent to which they are represented in key committees which impact upon quality.

  • The degree and nature of changes experienced.

The speed and significance of changes introduced to effect transformation of an institution/department will impact upon their efficacy and the means taken to adopt them.

3.3 The Quality of teaching staff and staff development

A key factor in the academic health of any university is the employment of quality teaching staff and the promotion of an environment in which staff development is fostered. A "needs" based approach to targeting staff development through staff appraisal is desirable. In addition, a suitable mix between personal staff development aimed at improving the currency of subject specific knowledge and that linked to enhancing teaching and learning activity is significant.

Practices vary from country to country as to how lecturers are employed. Rigorous procedures for the appointment of teaching staff are seen as an important element in promoting quality. The form of contract of employment of academics can also significantly affect commitment to academic activity. In many countries there is a growing trend to limit tenure and to promote temporary or limited term contracts, as institutions seek to create greater flexibility in their work force To promote a "learning organisation", however, requires long term planning, investment in staff development and academics with secure tenures.

3.4 Transparency in teaching and currency of programmes of study

The culture of an academic community may favour teaching as an individual and private process. The lack of transparency between student and lecturer that this produces may point to a need for a change in the organisation's own culture as well as the training of staff. Best practice promotes observation and assessment of teaching staff in the classroom, together with targeted feedback from students on their perceptions of its effectiveness.

Syllabuses and schemes for teaching programmes need to reflect up to date practices. They should involve all stakeholders in the process. This includes mechanisms to allow the students a say in enhancing teaching and learning. Formal feedback should be regularly analysed to enhance the quality of the provision for the key stakeholder, the student.

In addition, mechanisms to allow employers/professions to have a stake in the development of teaching curricula need to be promoted. Employers forums form a bridge between academia and the world of work, enabling courses to be designed and methods of learning to be promoted which foster in students the key attributes and transferable skills needed to secure jobs. Countries are now recognising that academic courses of study should both promote intellectual development in the individual and develop skills which help students make a successful transition to the world of work.


Any examination of QA must acknowledge the impact of cultural diversity. The differing political, economic and social dimensions and power structures help to determine what is and what is not possible within institutions. Some of these issues are considered below.

4.1 Academic Power, Self Regulation and Funding

The means by which academic power and social control are exercised is evident in their capacity to either facilitate or suppress quality initiatives. The level at which the power to require action resides, be it ministry, institution, faculty or programme, is likely to have a significant impact on structures adopted for quality and on their chances of success. Countries differ in terms of how and where such power and authority is vested. In some countries the norm is for groups of universities to act in concert, in others, power is concentrated at government level.

There is also a wide variation in the extent to which an academic culture of self-regulation and evaluation has been promulgated. Some countries, such as the USA, Canada and the United Kingdom have a tradition of individual and collaborative assessment of their core educational activities. In contrast, some of the classic research orientated universities in South America and Europe have developed a pedigree which subdues the development of such cultures.

The degree of autonomy held by some departments or the strong centralised control vested in certain education ministries, may be severely at odds with promoting a quality orientation in teaching and learning. A key feature underpinning quality assurance is for a university to acknowledge that it is a self-critical academic community, striving to enhance the quality of its work. In practice, the individual circumstances of the institution and its cultural context may militate against this.

Countries also vary in the extent to which they have sought to gain control or to delegate the monitoring of quality in academic institutions. In the United Kingdom the last decade has brought greater emphasis on the centralisation of quality monitoring with quality audits of systems and procedures and quality assessment of practices rigorously applied. This contrasts markedly with the current approach in the USA, which is largely independent of government and based on self-regulation and peer review.

There is also a need to distinguish between the different types of university within individual countries, by reference to the mix between state funded/recognised, private, and off-campus branches of universities. Major differences can emerge and have an obvious impact on the quality of provision in higher education.

Yet despite these significant variations that exist between countries and cultures many are importing QA schemes from other countries with little recognition of the changed context.

Fears have been expressed that such initiatives may not be well founded. For example, Holland's quality model was an adaptation of Australian and Canadian frameworks. The Dutch model of quality evaluation is now being promoted as a panacea in Scandinavia and the European Community. Likewise, the American system of accreditation is being promulgated in Eastern and Central Europe and in parts of Asia.

4.2 Attitudes of Governments

Governments and the leadership that they provide can have a significant impact on quality assurance and its evaluation. The political persuasion of the government can affect the response to quality provision. Examples can be cited of government approaches fostering public comparison, cost efficiency, and financial incentives for excellence in meeting quality criteria. These can be contrasted with governments who exercise much looser control, providing financial support, encouraging greater autonomy of higher education institutions by allowing them discretion to institute measures to police their own affairs and define their own culture of quality. In contrast, governments have been seen to force change by using the threat of unleashing competitive forces to activate a response in those institutions who have failed to implement internal regulatory procedures to underpin the quality of provision.

4.3 Other Cultural Factors

Culture is a prime driver of both individual behaviour, and its setting within the overall functioning of the HE organisation. No model of quality can expect to have international applicability, without acknowledging and catering for the impact of national culture. Equally, for any quality initiative to be successful, its concepts and theories must in part be prescribed by national culture.

Culture and individual personality interact. Complex issues relating to quality in higher education are closely influenced by cultural divide and language. Quality is an abstract concept, with people from different cultures likely to provide diverse definitions. This diversity may be significantly compounded internationally, with simple statements of quality taking on different shades of meaning within different cultures.

An individual's perception of quality will differ according to the position occupied and power and influence wielded within the organisational hierarchy. This will be tempered by individual experience and perception of quality issues within higher education in a particular country.

Cross-cultural influences impact upon styles of management, organisation and interpersonal communication within higher educational institutions. National education systems influence both the structure of programmes of study and the consequent human dimensions associated with roles, relationships and communications within higher education establishments. This is likely to be mirrored in the sub-organisational structures which exist at faculty, department and individual programme levels.

Quality assurance cannot fail to be influenced by these features. The particular frameworks embodied in an institution's response to quality assurance and the rules and procedures underpinning it will vary. Equally the manner in which the change to a greater emphasis on a quality assured environment is undertaken, will be a product of the culture-led responses and decisions of the university and its subdivisions. Clearly the implementation of any model of quality assurance is not going to be entirely satisfactory, unless it takes due account of some of the above features.

For example, a university in a particular country may undertake its activities bound by few written rules and procedures. Attempts to ensure a compliant and consistent response amongst sections of the organisation and particularly, in individuals, may founder if the predominant culture mitigates against standardisation of procedures. Often there is a middle way, with expectations limited by what is considered as being realistic within the prevailing culture and individual organisation. Managing change in the form of QA procedures may consequently have undesired results. Inevitably quality assurance initiatives may not always translate easily from one country to another. Crude attempts to impose foreign systems without clear analysis of cultural context may be self-defeating.


5.1 Introduction

In this section different models of quality are explored and key elements distilled. There are a number of existing models commonly in use from which insight can be gained. These range from those which have been used to evaluate quality in and across various European higher education institutions, to those used in the United Kingdom to assess the quality of provision within programmes. The models presented below are ones which contain aspects selected for inclusion into the matrix model of quality proposed in the next section.

The model evolved by the European Association for International Education (EAIE) provides a framework for external assessment by peer group review and acknowledges the role of the various stakeholders in influencing and shaping the educational process. It identifies areas and methods which express a common basis for assessment between institutions and interprets quality by using "aspects" of quality provision. The framework links the goals and aims of an educational programme with the curricula, the design of student assessment and the expected knowledge, skills and attitudes acquired by the student at the end of his/her course of study.


Stated goals
and aims




Translation of goals/aims in



Reflection of
programme contents in the
examinations and the design work



The graduate:
what did he/she acquire with
regard to:
a) knowledge
b) skills
c) attitudes

 Diagram A - Factors Defining Quality as developed from the EAIE model.

5.2 Six Aspects of the Total Learning Environment

Some of the thinking behind the model described under section 5.1 is linked to developments in the United Kingdom to both measure and assess the quality of provision in higher education institutions. The elements of these aspects of provision are used to describe the learning environment of students in higher education. These aspects have been refined into six categories:

1. Curriculum Design, Content and Organisation

This includes all aspects of the content and design of a programme with a particular regard for the ways in which they are integrated.

2. Teaching, Learning and Assessment

This explores how the programme is delivered, the range of teaching and learning methods employed and the range and balance of assessments.

3. Student Support and Guidance

In this category all the mechanisms related to supporting and guiding the student at a personal level, the departmental level and the university level are assessed.

4. Student Progression and Achievement

This considers all aspects of a student cohort including entry qualifications, pass rates, wastage rates, exit qualifications, employability, etc.

5. Learning Resources

Here, all forms of resource related to the students learning environment are considered. These include teaching space, staff/student ratio, library facilities, IT facilities, etc.

6. Quality Enhancement, Output and Outcome

This includes a review of all the quality systems in operation within the University and assesses how effective they are at the level of the programme.

5.3 The Student Learning Experience - The Seven Characteristics of High Quality Learning

In defining the characteristics of high quality learning a model identified by Nightingale et al, has been used, which embodies the following seven principles:

A. The conditions necessary which facilitate discovery of knowledge by the student

- such as easy access to high quality information and programmes designed to encourage student centred learning.

B. Long-term retention of knowledge

- encouraged by the programme design which emphasises understanding rather than memorising.

C. The capacity to create new knowledge

- facilitated by the use of open-ended questioning and project based study.

D. The climate which stimulates students to perceive and understand the links between old and new knowledge

- supported by programme design and an active staff research environment.

E. Favourable conditions which enhance the student’s ability to apply knowledge gained, to solving problems

- encouraged by all forms of student centred learning and especially the use of projects.

F. Situations which allow students to demonstrate their capacity to communicate their knowledge to others

- facilitated by commercially sponsored projects with open presentations and student organised conferences.

G. The stimulus for students wanting to know more

- a continual emphasis on the pursuite of excellence.

The summation of the experiences derived by students represents the total of all the learning activities which have influenced their understanding gained in pursuing a programme of study. Quality assurance measures can then be designed which build upon the integrity of this transaction and acknowledge the centrality of high quality learning as its goal. Styles of teaching and learning, claimed learning outcomes, assessment strategies, all will have their part to play in providing a rewarding quality learning experience, as will the wider climate in which this learning activity takes place.

However, it is important to acknowledge that whilst individual interactions have a cumulative impact on their learning experience, it is their summation as represented by a course of study, which sets the tone of the student's experience.

5.4 Models which acknowledge the key roles of students and lecturers

The central role of teaching and learning as a major determinant in fashioning the quality of an educational programme is frequently acknowledged. It is dependent on the quality of transfer of knowledge from lecturer to student. This in turn is dependent upon the manner in which the framework for learning is defined and the appropriateness of the learning environment.

Most models to date have sought to ignore this approach, as most institutions have inadequate knowledge of the interaction since it requires formal classroom observation. This, in turn, might point to the sterility of many learning experiences and the need to both initiate and discharge strategies for staff development and to enhance the quality of the learning environment.


This section focuses on creating a model capable of meeting the demands of an internationally diverse group of surveyors engaged in educating students in higher educational institutions. The matrix model which emerges, attempts to bring together distinct features which are thought to impact upon quality.

Most systems of quality assurance are formulated and centrally driven by educational institution and cascade down to the levels of the faculty, department and programme. In this way it is easier to effect common approaches, standards, and compliance.

However, from the students' perspective, such quality assurance measures are often formulated with insufficient sensitivity to the immediacy of their educational experience. It is infrequently the case that students are allowed to influence significantly the design of this process. This is paradoxical given that students are the consumers of the process, so the following definition of quality assurance is proposed which may help to resolve this ambiguity and provide the contact for the model.

Definition of Quality Assurance in Higher Education:
All those methods and means which help to support and foster high quality learning experiences in the student population and which serve to promote a deeper understanding of the subject matter comprising their programmes of study.

Simply stated, methods and means refer to those procedures and systems designed to enhance the student learning experience. Examples might be: the formulation of systems of staff appraisal and development to secure improvements in the quality of teaching and learning; promoting staff selection procedures which secure appointees with the requisite skills and potential to boost the quality of student learning.

6.1 The Models Purpose

The purpose of the model is to provide a framework which attempts to mimic key features which are thought to have significant impact on the quality provision of surveying programmes internationally. The model is a dynamic representation of reality which can be used to both demonstrate and explore the quality interaction. It does this by presenting its components in the form of a matrix which allows the user to define the weighting accorded each facet. It allows the user to map out a unique framework for action, which helps to take account of both the stakeholders, institutional climate and programme characteristics. The model’s particular focus is the lecturer/student interface.

The model represented in Diagram B seeks to characterise the interaction between students and lecturers by linking those seven elements of activity which make a major impact on encouraging high quality learning with the six aspects of provision, as outlined in Section 5.2. The outcome is a comprehensive representation of the spectrum of activities which underpin learning activity in a higher education institution. Each of the six aspects should be examined in the light of the seven features of high quality learning to determine the programme's and university's unique response. In each case questions can be asked to determine how each aspect of learning helps promote the achievement of each of the seven features of high quality learning.

Seeking out evidence for each of the characteristics of high quality learning against the aspects constituting the learning environment may be quite complex. Consequently, the model may also be used as a simple checklist to offer guidance for those seeking to evaluate performance, from whatever perspective they are viewing the educational process.

Six Aspects of the Total Learning Environment







Seven Charac-
teristics of High Quality Learning








    Curr. Design
Content & Orgs
Teaching & Learn- ing Student Support and Guidance Student Achieve- ment Learning Resources Output and Out-


Discovery of


Long Term Retention            


Create a new Knowledge            


Links between Old & new Knowledge            




Capacity to Communicate knowledge            


Wanting to Know more            

Diagram B. The interaction between Characteristics of High Quality Learning and different aspects of the total learning environment.

Viewed from the perspective of the lecturer or student, the model embodies guiding principles, rather than absolute truths. It can provide a basis against which to establish targets and evolve teaching strategies for the lecturer and promote learning strategies for students.

6.2 Using the Model

This basic model represents each of the six aspects of the total learning environment as carrying equal weighting. However, in practice, one could apply a greater weighting to, say, the quality of staff resources and the teaching and learning strategies employed, if one considered such characteristics as central. An example of the operation of the model is provided below, showing how it could be used to address one characteristic of high quality learning.

The Diagram C below shows the link between the characteristic "Create new knowledge" (C) and the six aspects of the total learning environment. The conditions necessary to facilitate discovery of new knowledge by the student may require frameworks to be put in place prescribed by combinations of actions relating to the six aspects as described in the diagram. The answers given in the diagram are general. Specific answers must of course reflect the national, institutional and cultural setting of the individual university.

1. The capacity to create new knowledge vs. Curriculum Design and Content

- the design of a programme of study which is sufficiently academically rigorous, diverse, stimulating and periodically enhanced by formal feedback and development procedures.

2. The capacity to create new knowledge vs. Teaching Learning and Assessment

- formalised teaching and learning strategies to encourage the design of a range of experiences and assessments which promote independent learning.

3. The capacity to create new knowledge vs. Student Support and Guidance

- the design of academic support mechanisms to encourage students to develop their own learning strategies.

4. The capacity to create new knowledge vs. Student Achievement

- the capacity of students to create a new knowledge will in itself lead to students achievement.

5. The capacity to create new knowledge vs. Learning Resources

- facilitates strategies which promote students as independent learners and encourage discovery of knowledge.

6. The capacity to create new knowledge vs Output and Outcomes

- developing strategies and systems which promote staff development in areas of teaching and learning which actively stimulate mechanisms to support discover of knowledge by students.

Diagram C.The link between the characteristic "Create new Knowledge(C) and the six aspects of high quality learning.

The simple example identified above shows how the model can provide a significant aid for analysis and diagnosis.

Viewing the model of quality from the student's perspective, it is important to acknowledge that whilst individual interactions have a cumulative impact on his/her learning experience, it is the summation as represented by the completion of a programme of study, which sets the tone for the student's experience. This comprises a multitude of transactions and interactions between a student and the learning experiences offered by lecturers within the framework of modules comprising his/her programme of study.


In practice it may be difficult to isolate quality assurance strategies emerging from an examination of each aspect as one aspect may impact on another. Nevertheless, the process should become clearer and lead to the recognition or establishment of a range of good practice that often goes across many of the cells in the matrix. Example of good practice that have emerged to date are:

  • Providing regular opportunities for discussing academic issues, both formal or informal.
  • Holding regular operational meetings with all relevant staff, to report, discuss, resolve issues and obstacles to progress.
  • Holding meetings/quality circles to discuss and identify improvements and innovations in academic activity.
  • Careful briefing and induction to new staff.
  • Continual support for staff development and learning.
  • Providing opportunities, resources/incentives to promote staff training, innovation etc., backed by a system which helps/facilitates the diagnosis of the above.
  • Promoting good communications, effective dissemination of information, consultation and feedback at all levels and on most issues.
  • Promoting and publicising individual achievement and celebrating success.
  • Rewarding good academic performance, both in teaching, administration and research.
  • Facilitating peer student networks.
  • Encouraging collaborative developments in teaching and research.
  • Promoting action research into teaching and learning within the discipline.
  • Learning from other institutions, via, exchanges, visits, presentation and conferences.
  • Maintaining regular contact with former clients and employers.

Academics are encouraged to use the model in conjunction with the maturity matrix identified in section 2.4.


The International Federation of Surveyors (FIG) believes that a commitment to Quality Assurance in Surveying Education is essential to provide a demonstrably sound foundation for the future work of the professional surveyor. Consequently, FIG, through its members associations will endeavour to provide support and guidance to those surveyors involved in the professional education of future surveyors in their endeavours to ensure that systems of quality assurance are applied to the educational process.

FIG endorses the introduction and implementation of quality assurance systems within the educational processes for professional surveyors and, in particular, encourages and supports:

  • Surveyors who operate as educationalists within further and higher education in developing personal systems of quality control and assurance in their teaching methodology;
  • Surveying educationalists in their attempts to become involved with the introduction of teaching quality assurance processes within their departments and institutions;
  • Member associations to either develop their own systems of quality assurance or to work with other involved organisations in the development of such systems so as to ensure that the education of future surveyors is of a demonstrably high quality.


The following case studies of "Quality Assurance in Practice" provide a representative sample of how a number of different countries and institutions have developed and implemented procedures for quality assurance in their surveying education programmes.

The case studies from Denmark, The Netherlands, South Africa, USA and United Kingdom provide insight in different approaches to quality assurance reflecting differences in the cultural, institutional and contextual context of the institutions. The case studies are presented by using a common framework. This should facilitate the understanding and comparison between the concepts implemented in different countries.


1. Introduction

Higher Education in Denmark is offered by universities and several institutions of higher education through programmes as B.Sc. and M.Sc. programmes. The programmes may be combined in the way that a three year B.Sc. programme constitutes the first part of a five M.Sc. programme. This is the case e.g. within engineering studies. Engineering studies at university level are offered at the Technical University of Denmark in Copenhagen and at Aalborg University in the North of Jutland. Surveying education is offered only at Aalborg University. The course is a unique five-year full-time study programme for obtaining a M.Sc. in Surveying, Planning and Land Management. About 35 students in average graduate each year.

2. National Quality Initiatives

The Universities in Denmark are funded by the State and are governed by the university bodies themselves. The funding of the educational process is proportional to the number of exams passed by the students throughout the year (the taximeter-principle). This principle of funding as well as the increasing number of students put the educational process much more into focus. In the traditional "elitist university" the responsibility for the learning process (and for passing exams) lies very much with the students themselves. In the universities of today it has become vital that the students are able to pass exams and to obtain graduation. This does not mean that the standard of the programmes is lowered - it means that the quality of the educational process and of the management of the programmes must be in focus and increased.

This is the background on which one should see the increasing demand for quality assurance and quality development in higher education. This may also be the background on which the Danish Centre for Quality Assurance and Evaluation of Higher Education (the Evaluation Centre) was established by the government in 1992. The Centre is responsible for periodical evaluation of the quality of the programmes of higher education in Denmark.

Each evaluation is organised to include all programmes in DK within a specific professional field. This means that a number of educational institutions may be involved in each evaluation. A steering committee of five external professional experts is appointed to conduct the evaluation process. The Evaluation Centre then acts as the secretariat for conducting the process and for compiling the final evaluation report.

The process includes the preparation of a comprehensive self-evaluation report from each institution involved. The report is based on a common framework composed by the evaluation centre, and includes all key issues related to the profile and the quality of the programme. The steering committee will then visit the institutions to meet and discuss with relevant groups, management bodies, faculty staff as well as students. Furthermore, the Evaluation Centre conducts a survey of the graduates to see to what extent the programme has been sufficient according to the demands of different employment areas. The final report then presents the views of the committee, including recommendations for changes and improvements. The institution should then take action on these recommendations to implement the validation report.

Here, it should be mentioned that Denmark does not have an accreditation system for external approval of the programmes prior to implementation. The content of the programmes is seen as a matter of self government for the Faculty based on a general approval from the Ministry of Education. This flexibility makes it easy to adapt and improve the content of the curriculum according to the development within the relevant professional areas. The self-evaluation report therefore is seen as a relevant and adequate tool to assess the quality as well as the efficiency and effectiveness of the programmes.

3. Contextual issues

The academic staff at Aalborg University is employed in principle by half time teaching and half time research. The staff members are organised in Departments covering relevant interrelated scientific areas. This way, the Departments are responsible for research activities while the Schools and their Board of Studies are responsible for the educational programmes. The Departments then provide the educational resources needed and required by the director of the individual Schools. The system provides for a kind of competition between the Schools and the Departments aiming to optimise the total management of resources.

The surveying and engineering programmes at Aalborg University are project-organised and problem-based from the day the freshmen arrive until their graduation.

Project-organised means that traditional taught courses assisted by actual practice is replaced by project work assisted by courses. The concept moves the perspective from description and analysing into synthesising and assessment. Each semester has a basic structure of - in principle - equal distribution of lecture courses and project work. The project work is carried out in small groups of four to six students having a teacher appointed as supervisor.

The curriculum is organised into general subjects or "themes", normally covering a semester. This provides for the use of project work as a basic educational element. The themes in total will constitute the general aim or professional profile of the curriculum. The themes provide for studying the core elements of the subjects included (through the courses given) as well as exploring (through the project work) the application of the subjects in professional practice.

Problem-based means that traditional textbook-knowledge is replaced by the necessary knowledge to solve theoretical problems. The concept moves the perspective from understanding of common knowledge into ability to develop new knowledge. The aim of the project work is "learning by doing" or "action learning". The project work may be organised by using a "know-how" approach for training professional functions, or it may be organised by using a "know-why" approach for training methodological skills of problem-analysis and application.

This way, quality assurance is to a large extent built into the educational methodology and the organisational structure of the programme.

4. Quality related activities at programme level

The capability and the quality of the educational system should also be evaluated within the educational system itself. This is done by the system of external censoring and the system of internal evaluation at the end of each term.

The system of external censoring serves the purpose of external professional and academic control. External examination is based on the project report and includes a verbal presentation of the project and a following discussion for the purpose of assessing the broad awareness and professional knowledge possessed by each student. The examination is conducted by the teacher appointed as the group-supervisor. A normal examination for a group of students will last for about three hours. Two external censors are present. Normally, one of the censors is representing the professional world/industries, and another is representing the academic world/universities. The censoring system thus allows for the control of professional relevance and academic standards as well as control of the total educational system.

External censoring is normally used to cover at least one third of the curriculum and of course for the examination of the final thesis. The rest of the terms are examined by internal censoring using faculty staff and following the same procedure as described above. By using the project-organised model all marks at the diploma can be documented by the project reports and may be assessed by the trade and industries e.g. when a graduate is applying for job.

Internal evaluation serves the purpose of monitoring the relevance and the quality of the lecture courses as well as the quality of the total term concerning the supervision, organisation, resources etc. The evaluation is prepared by the students and assessed by the Board of Studies. The evaluation report is then used for preparing and improving the following same semester.

The project-organised approach to education includes that the lecture courses are designed to support the project work carried out at the specific term. The knowledge obtained through lecture courses is therefore assessed through the examination based on the project report. Some lecture courses especially in the natural science area will, however, be assessed separately. The educational model underpins the interaction between the lecture courses and the project work. The process of internal evaluation is therefore seen as a crucial element in the system of quality assurance and development.

A high-quality learning environment depends on the lecturer/student interface. This, again, depends on the pedagogical skills of the teacher. Assistant professors/lecturers must hold a PhD degree and they also have to undertake a special course designed to improve their pedagogical skills and skills for conducting the whole learning process. The assessment from completing this course can then be used when applying for a permanent position as associate professor/senior lecturer. Courses are also designed to improve the pedagogical skills of the permanent staff whenever needed.

Finally, to reinforce the importance of a high-quality learning environment, the Faculty has introduced the concept of appointing the "the teacher of the year". The appointment is based on recommendations from students from each of the Boards of Studies within the Faculty. The award includes a fiscal prize and the concept underpins that academic merits relate not only to research but to educational skills as well.

5. Conclusions

The concept of quality allows for a refocus from traditional control to a more managerial approach to university education. This goes for the national level, the Faculty level, as well as for the local level within the individual Board of Studies. In the case of Aalborg University, the means of Quality Assurance can be summarised in three main instruments:

  • The process of external validation conducted by the National Evaluation Centre. The process is based on a self-assessment report and is aiming to assess and improve the profile of the curriculum and the effectiveness and efficiency of provision and management of the learning environment.
  • The system of external examiners/censoring aiming to control the examination procedures and to assess the knowledge of students as well as the overall scientific and professional level of the curriculum. This system may be rather unique in an international context.
  • The concept of internal evaluation by the end of each term aiming to assess and improve the content of the lecture courses as well as the term in total. This concept relates to the project-organised educational model and is seen as the basic engine for constant renewal and improvement.

Furthermore, Quality Assurance is to a large extent built into the educational methodology and the organisational structure of the programmes.

Prof. Stig Enemark
Head of School of Surveying and Planning
Chair of FIG Commission 2 1994-1998
Aalborg University, Denmark


1.  Introduction

In The Netherlands higher education is provided at university level, as well as at the level of higher professional education (sometimes compared with M.Sc. and B.Sc. level respectively). Engineering studies at the technical universities have a five-year programme, while the polytechnics provide a four-year curriculum.

Higher educational institutions receive state funding for their educational activities (part of the university research projects is also based on private funding). Students receive a scholarship that covers most of their cost of living. However, this scholarship is limited in years and not unconditioned. If the yearly study progress is less then fifty percent, it is converted to a loan. Moreover, students have to pay a tuition fee for attending to the courses (about US$ 1.000).

At each level Geodetic Engineering is a unique study programme. Geodesy and Geoinformatics can be studied at professional education level at Utrecht Polytechnic and an academic programme in Geodesy can be studied at Delft University of Technology. Both programmes are mainly taught by full-time lecturers. However, at Utrecht Polytechnic teaching is practically a full-time task, while at Delft University activities are roughly equally divided between education and research.

The Delft and Utrecht programmes are full-time studies, but the higher professional degree can also be obtained in a part-time study for surveyors with practical experience. In both programmes the scope of the contents is rather broad, ranging from geodesy and surveying to geoinformatics and land development. Moreover, several courses for continuous professional education (CPD) are provided by either Delft University and Utrecht Polytechnic.

2. National quality initiatives

The last decade the importance of quality control and efficiency in higher education has increased. Successive reductions in highness and duration of governmental student funding were combined with agreements on improved educational quality, efficiency and student supervision, to be provided by the educational institutions. Funding of universities - and of faculties and study programmes within universities - is not only based on the number of students, but also on the student output (percentage of the students that actually graduates). More and more, higher educational institutions are assessed on their organisation of quality control and student supervision.

In 1989 a system of regular 'visitation' of study programmes at universities and higher educational institutions was introduced. Each six years an external evaluation committee visits all study programmes. Usually, related study programmes are visited at the same time by the same committee. To prepare for the visitation each study programme has to write a thorough self-evaluation (internal quality assessment). The evaluation committee visits each study programme for a few days and speaks with representatives of different groups, staff as well as students. The committee not only reviews the contents and level of the curriculum, but also the management of the study programme, quality assurance procedures and student supervision. The visitation report describes the positive and negative impressions of the committee and gives recommendations for further improvement. Of course, a major topic at the next visitation round will be the actions undertaken by the institution in the light of the last visitation report.

The Delft Geodetic Engineering programme was visited in 1993, while the Utrecht programme is recently reviewed in 1997.

In 1995 the Universities of Technology were allowed to provide five-year study programs (since 1992 all university curricula were restricted to four years). This additional year is however bounded to strict arrangements on improved quality control and study progress. The last couple of years Delft University of Technology employed several initiatives in order to respond to the increased demands for quality assurance. Amongst other things by introducing university wide course evaluation, funding of educational quality improvement projects and reorganisation of the educational management.

Since 1997 each study programme has an 'educational manager', resorting directly under the dean of the faculty and explicitly responsible for the quality control of the curriculum. It is the educational manager's responsibility that the faculty fulfils the arrangements made with the university board on improved efficiency and reduced total study time to complete the programme.

3. Quality related activities at programme level

A comprehensive description of the activities on educational quality assurance employed for the Geodetic Engineering programme at Delft University can be found in (Kenselaar 1998). Here we only give a short review of the main recent initiatives.

Concerning initiatives on national and university level we already mentioned the external visitation of study programmes and the intensified educational management at programme level. A few years ago standard course evaluation was introduced at Delft University. Each course is evaluated by the students, using a standard form suited for statistical interpretation. This quantitative evaluation is complementary to a textual evaluation of all courses that is organised for ten years now by the student societies.

Considering the small number of students in Geodetic Engineering (about thirty each year) statistical interpretation of course evaluation figures is rather problematic. Given the limited number of lecturers and the relatively small organisation one should be careful in copying the educational management structure used at faculties with thousands of students. At Geodetic Engineering a close co-operation is intended between educational committee, (part-time) educational manager and student counsellor. All lecturers join the 'counsel of lecturers'. This platform advises the faculty about the study program, especially regarding its contents. Next to that, the counsel will also stimulate contacts between lecturers and the interrelation of courses.

Recently the evaluation procedure is formally described, including a feedback loop to the lecturers. The evaluation results are now a standard item of the yearly assessment of scientific staff. A voluntary initiative of some lecturers to attend short courses and workshops on teaching and learning has been formalised with the prescription that each beginning lecturer has to participate in such a short course.

The monitoring of student capabilities and progress has been intensified. Just as is done for first-year students for years, also second and third year students now obtain an official study-advice by the faculty, based on their progress and results. This should be the starting point for intensified student support. The student counsellor will approach students with insufficient progress. The role of the student counsellor thus changes from a passive (students who feel the need can contact him) to a more active attitude (the student counsellor contacts a student if he finds it necessary). Arrangements between student and counsellor should result in concrete commitments on planning and study efforts by the student, combined with additional support of lecturers for certain problematic courses.

Currently, a study year has four periods, each of seven weeks of lectures and two weeks of examinations. In each quarter three or four courses are given parallel. In general, there is a clear trend towards concentration: The student focuses on only a few different courses in a short period, directly followed by examination. In the near future Delft University will even start with a five-semester programming.

The traditional combination of oral lectures, exercises and self-study, examined by a written test, is still widely used. Training of manual skills is diminished, instead the provision of supported or take-home exercises is increased, attempting to activate the students and stimulate self-study. In several courses more student oriented educational methods are introduced, like cases-studies and student-projects. There the lecturer focuses on supporting the learning student', instead of merely presenting the subjects for tuition. Lots of studies promote such educational methods, although in practice it is not easy to attain that students seriously study the right subjects and to test their progress.

4. Conclusions

The increasing demand for quality assurance is a clear trend in higher education. It has become a political and social necessity for educational institutions to demonstrate the quality and efficiency of their study programmes. Also Geodetic Engineering studies (usually having a small number of students and lecturers) will have to replace informal procedures of curriculum control and student support by a formal description of educational organisation and activities on quality control. Encouraged by the last external visitation Geodetic Engineering in Delft is compiling an educational quality assurance document describing all relevant activities and procedures. The small scale of the organisation does not allow for an extensive educational management, engaged with quality assurance. On the other hand, it is then relatively easy to realise things like adequate student monitoring and interrelations of courses.

Ir. Frank Kenselaar
Assistant Professor, National Delegate for FIG Commission 2
Delft University of Technology, Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geo-Sciences
The Netherlands


1. Introduction

Higher education in South Africa is offered by universities, technikons (similar to the former UK polytechnics), colleges of education and technical or community colleges. Colleges of Education are responsible for the training of teachers, while technical colleges offer both tertiary and secondary courses. Surveying education is only offered by universities and technikons, the former specialising in scientific education and research. Technikons specialise in technical career orientated education. Since 1995 technikons are also offering degree programmes and are involved in applied research.

2. National Quality Initiatives

An act of Parliament established the Certification Council for Technikon Education (SERTEC) which is responsible for quality assurance at South African technikons and accreditation of programmes. Evaluation of programmes is done by visiting committees composed of representatives of professional bodies, employers, educators from other technikons or universities, and of the SERTEC council. This is repeated every four years. The Cape Technikon has set up a Quality Assurance Committee which is responsible for conducting its own QA and preparing programmes for evaluation by SERTEC.

University programmes are mainly evaluated by the professional bodies. An evaluating committee visit the university department, and if they are not satisfied with the standard, the graduates of that department will not be able to register with the South African Council of Surveyors.

3. Contextual Issues

Currently two universities offer four year degree courses in surveying leading to Masters and PhD degrees. Two universities recently had to close their survey departments mainly due to a diminishing number of students. Six technikons offer three year diploma courses, of which two also offer a four year BTEC degree. Universities as well as technikons struggle to attract large numbers of students, and the changing role of surveying also create changes in employment opportunities. Steps are being taken to adapt courses for the changing needs.

Over the last number of years higher education in South Africa was submitted to various financial cutbacks from government. Institutions had to increase external income in an effort to keep the increase in class fees to a minimum. This has resulted in large cuts in funding of new equipment, which has serious affects on technology- based education, such as surveying.

The lack of funding has also resulted in cutting some lecturing posts with a resulting high lecturing load on the remaining staff. More use is also made of part-time lecturers. Undergraduate courses are mostly offered on a full-time basis. Technikon lecturers spend most of their time on teaching, because of the high lecturing load and because technikons have only recently started doing research.

All the institutions mentioned above offer Surveying as a separate programme, while two technikons also offer Cartography programmes. Surveying is also offered to students in Civil Engineering and Building courses, usually at an introductory level. At the technikons survey departments normally form part of the Civil Engineering Schools.

4. QA of Programmes

Quality assurance at the Cape Technikon is conducted at two levels: internally and externally. Both are evaluating programmes. Internal QA is organised by the Quality Assurance Committee and is based on peer group evaluation every four years. All academic staff must also be evaluated by students on a regular basis. All third year subjects and higher must be externally moderated.

External QA and accreditation is conducted by SERTEC, also by means of peer group evaluation committees. Particular emphasis is placed on steps that were taken on recommendations at the previous visit. The introduction of QA has made staff aware of striving towards the achievement of quality at all times, although it may have resulted in additional administrative measures.

Depending on the contents, most subjects have a large laboratory and/or project contents. Many subjects are also evaluated on a continuous basis - this involves tests, practicals, projects and group work.

5. Good Practice in Teaching and Learning

Before new academic staff are appointed they have to do an aptitude test and also lecture to a panel of experts. After appointment, attendance of an educational technology course is compulsory. Regular evaluation by students and departmental management takes place. Regular seminars on teaching and learning methods are offered to staff. Annual ad hominem, promotions and awards are done as motivation and reward for good teaching and other achievements.

Annual meetings are held with other survey departments to exchange ideas and discuss course content. An advisory committee in which all sectors of industry and the profession are represented, meets annually to discuss the needs and requirements of industry.

6. Conclusions

The introduction of compulsory QA has certainly made everybody more aware of quality teaching in higher education, but for technikons the test is whether the education fulfil the needs and requirements of industry. The continued involvement of QA measures and industry will ensure quality education at technikons. Another important factor that will motivate high standards is the acceptance of technikon graduates for professional registration by the South African Council of Surveyors. This will also help to improve mobility of students between technikon and university.

J. H. Raubenheimer
Associate Director: Surveying
Cape Technikon
South Africa


1. Introduction

The system of higher education in the United States is organised in levels. The first is for two-year programmes housed in Junior or Community Colleges (also referred to as Vocational/Technical Colleges). Students graduating from these programmes receive Associate Degrees in Arts or Applied Science and may or may not continue with their education. The majority of these institutions are publicly funded and governed by the appropriate state agency. For admission they require the student to have graduated from high school (a four-year experience) and have received a diploma.

The second level are four-year public and private institutions of higher education referred to as colleges and universities. These have their own admission requirements for students graduating from high school and for those transferring upon completing all, or a part of, their studies in two-year colleges. Public colleges and universities are governed by their respective state agency and private institutions are governed by private boards. Masters and doctorate programs are also offered at this level.

In terms of surveying education, one finds courses relating to the topic at all levels of higher education. This would include courses in field surveying, housed principally in civil engineering programmes, through construction economics found in construction education programmes and business programmes to property management (development) also housed principally in colleges of business and management.

2. National Quality Initiatives

Quality Assurance of programmes containing surveying-type courses at the baccalaureate level is being conducted by either the American Council for Construction Education (ACCE), the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) or the national agency which accredits business and management programmes. The first agency accredits construction management education programmes, whereas the second agency accredits engineering programmes including those in construction engineering. In addition, in many states, the state agency charged with overview of higher education will also conduct independent quality assurance activities. There are also a series of regional-accrediting agencies which perform assessment activities of entire institutions.

3. Contextual Issues

Field surveying within two-year schools is usually housed in modules within construction or engineering technology programmes. Within four year colleges and universities, field surveying is usually found within civil and agricultural engineering departments. There are no formal complete programmes in field surveying in colleges and universities in the United States. Field surveying as a formal course is being removed from civil engineering programmes throughout the United States. This effort is motivated by the engineering accreditation board, ABET.

Subjects relating to construction economics, again, are covered in individual modules but not as complete programmes. These programmes are normally found in departments of construction management and civil engineering and occasionally in business and management.

In public education, state and federal governments are funding higher education at lower levels then they did a decade ago. Typically public institutions are funded 1/3 by the state, 1/3 by student tuition (which includes student loans, etc.) and 1/3 by research grants, outreach activities, and private donations. This decrease in public funding has resulted in organisational restructuring of institutions, eliminating programmes of study, outsourcing to private organisations of many student and faculty services such as book stores and other initiatives to increase institutional efficiencies. Along with this has been the need to increase student tuition.

For private institutions, there has also been the need to increase student tuition and reduce operating costs in ways similar to the public institutions.

Both part-time and full-time academic staff teach on surveying courses. The decision to use full or part-time staff is within the jurisdiction of the department where the respective programmes are housed. Whether full or part-time, staff must have the needed qualifications to teach the respective modules. If an institution devotes a large amount of time and course work to surveying-related subjects then the chances of a faculty member conducting research on such respective topics will be higher. Otherwise the faculty member will spend the majority of his time teaching the subjects.

However, most faculty members must perform research to become tenured and/or promoted.

4. Quality-related Activities at Programme Level

All courses are monitored and assessed for quality in the following ways:

The development and approval of new courses includes researching the subject matter of similar ones offered in peer institutions and obtaining input from experienced faculty and practising professionals and from subject matter experts in the respective specially areas - department initiative.

Student course evaluations are conducted for all courses every semester as a university wide initiative.

Faculty members review all curriculum on an annual basis as a department initiative.

The programme Industry Advisory Committee reviews curriculum once every other year and as called upon by the faculty to do so.

Graduating students have exit interviews and attend assessment conferences as a departmental initiative, while surveys of graduates and their employers are conducted annually as department and university initiatives.

The programme and its modules are assessed as part of the accreditation process conducted by the American Council for Construction Education.

The State of South Carolina Commission on Higher Education reviews the programme and its modules once every five years. The same occurs but to a much lesser extent when the university undergoes an accreditation visits by the regional accrediting agency as university and state initiatives.

The teaching methodology depends on the type of surveying course. For field surveying, the course is heavily project oriented and includes a substantial amount of fieldwork. For the construction economics course it is a balance between lecture and discussion and includes many case studies and projects. This will also be the case for surveying-related courses students take in the College of Business. As for any type of teaching methodology, poor teaching can have a negative impact on the quality of the learning process as effective teaching will enhance the learning process. Effective faculty evaluation will help insure quality instruction.

5. Good Practice in Teaching and Learning

The department incorporates all of the items included on the list of good practice as described in section 7.

6. Conclusions

Quality assurance measures will result in either improving the existing programmes and modules or, seemingly, lead to elimination, as was the case of field surveying being removed from civil engineering programs.

Professor Roger W Liska
Associate Dean and Professor
Clemson University
South Carolina
United States of America


1. Introduction

Higher education for surveying courses is offered by a mix of universities and colleges across the country. Surveying programmes focus on Planning and Development, Rural Practice, Land and Hydrographic, Minerals, Building Surveying, Quantity Surveying and General Practice surveying. Quality of provision is monitored and controlled by the Government Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education. The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) acts for the profession of surveyors in accrediting approved courses at undergraduate and postgraduate levels in universities and colleges. Collectively these institutions offer 170 RICS accredited courses across the United Kingdom of which there are 42 in England. After obtaining a degree or diploma from an accredited course, graduates are eligible to register for the RICS postgraduate professional training programme, the Assessment of Professional Competence. If candidates are successful they are deemed professionally competent and may apply for professional associateship status.

2. National Quality Initiatives

The development of quality assurance in higher education has undergone significant change over the last decade, and has been dominated by government led initiatives which check to ensure that universities are achieving value for money and are operating to given levels of quality. These have led to the introduction of new models of assuring quality and standards. From 1995 to the year 2000, a dual system of quality assurance has and will operate.

At institutional level, external assessors appointed by the Quality Assurance Agency (Formerly the Higher Education Quality Council (HEQC), undertake the audit of university based systems and procedures, using a statement of self-assessment provided by the institution as a template, against which performance is assessed.

In parallel with the above a subject based quality assurance framework is operated by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA). It covers all programmes, which are offered in higher education. These are categorized into units of assessment and a time frame set for their examination by assessment teams appointed by QAA. Each programme is assessed against a self- assessment document provided by the programme team. Evidence is sought by assessors against six main criteria, known as aspects of provision, which include statements on the curriculum, teaching and learning, learning resources, student support and guidance, quality and enhancement and student progression and achievement. In each case external assessors gather evidence against the claims made by each programme team. The external assessors would be responsible for rating each aspect out on a scale of 1 to 4 (highest). If any aspect scored 1, then this was deemed a failure and would trigger a further visit within twelve months to check the efficacy of remedial action taken. If the provision was still considered unsatisfactory, the funding provided for that programme could be withdrawn.

Future developments, coming into effect from 2001, include plans to reduce the burden of external scrutiny on institutions by means of a clearer definition of what is expected of institutions, a greater focus on outcomes and the quality of student work, and combining quality audit with quality assessment.

Institutions offering professionally accredited programmes have also been the subject of review by their respective professions. In the case of surveying, The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) appoints teams of academics and members of the profession to assess the quality of the provision of surveying programmes offered by each higher education institution.

Liverpool John Moores University has responded to the above as follows. It has implemented a framework for quality at university level, which allows for both upward and downward transmission of good practice. University quality committees comprise representatives from Schools to ensure commitment. Each programme area has to submit programme self-assessment documents annually. These analyze and evaluate a variety of sources of information related to programme delivery and development including a review of student feedback, input from the profession/industry and commerce, external examiner's reports, statistical information on cohort progression and failure rates etc. Each Head of Studies evaluates the programme's performance against a number of headings which allows for informed reflection of changes made and initiatives pursued. Every 5 years programmes are the subjects of revalidation by the institution to ensure their currency and those academic standards are being met.

3. Contextual Issues

After reaching a peak in the early 1990's, market forces have caused some regrouping of a number of surveying programmes in universities and a decline in the number of surveying based programmes. The majority of programmes offered are the subject to accreditation by the RICS, which has started to take a much firmer stance on academic standards. In some cases programmes have lost accreditation by the institution.

Until 1998, all students attracted state funding for payment of fees for the programmes on which they were registered. Assistance towards other expenses was means tested and based a sliding scale according to parental income. The generosity of central government student grants has been steadily eroded during the last decade. From September, all students registering on degree programmes are expected to contribute £1000 towards their programme fees. Central government has set up a loan scheme at a low rate of interest to assist students to finance their education.

The extent to which surveying programmes at universities are delivered by combinations of part-time and full- time staff varies with each institution and programme. During the last few years the majority of full- time staff completing a period of probation attracted permanent tenure. Increasingly however, more teaching staff are employed on temporary contracts and the cost savings of substituting part-time for full-time staff is becoming increasingly attractive. Generally staff/student ratios have almost doubled over the last twenty years.

The proportion of students in The School of The Built Environment studying part-time mode varies according to the programme offered, with urban estate management 0%, Quantity Surveying 25% and Building Surveying 5. %. None of the undergraduate students study by distance learning.

On average 10-20% of an academic's time is spent on research/ scholarship/consultancy, the residue is confined to teaching and related administrative duties. All full-time lecturers hold tenure.

Within the School, Surveying is delivered by three distinct programme areas, Building Surveying, Quantity Surveying and Urban Estate Management. Each offers undergraduate programmes by part-time, full-time and sandwich mode.

4. Quality Related Activities at Programme Level

Operation of quality assurance at programme level is governed by an institution framework which includes the following: complex central assessment regulations, a system of evaluative annual reports for each programme, periodic review of programmes by the university, a Head of Divisional Academic Programmes to both benchmark and provide feedback on programme development and evolution. In addition programme standards are assessed externally by external examiners attached to each programme area, and programmes are subject to central government quality assessment at approximately six-year intervals.

Good practice is increasingly being applied in the context of staff development in teaching and learning, peer observation of teaching, and the formulation of strategies both at university and school level to effect improvement and evolve a climate conducive to the "reflective practitioner".

Programmes are delivered over two semesters and within a modular framework.

Measures to improve quality are often centrally led, but usually there is room for some discretion regarding their interpretation at programme level. The pace of change in the above context has been rapid. Some changes, e.g. peer observation of teaching and feedback to students, can pose challenges to consistency of approach between programmes. More statistical data is available against which to benchmark programme and module performance.

Both Quantity Surveying and Urban Estate Management are mainly delivered by traditional lectures. Increasingly student centered learning is being introduced in the form of projects. Building Surveying is similarly reliant on lectures as the prime mode of delivery, coupled with some laboratory based activity. A joint project in the final level of the degree programmes provides a mechanism for team working. There are increasing pressures for more common modules to be offered across the above programmes.

Traditional lectures are used for a number of reasons, mainly resource based, including the lack of flexibility in the building occupied, which inhibits more innovative methods of delivery.

5. Good Practice in Teaching and Learning

Most of the features in the attached list of good practice are undertaken, with variable degrees of effectiveness. Project work is a key feature in promoting student centered learning and problem solving activity. However, such educational opportunities are being increasingly challenged by the level of remedial support required in study skills for new entrants, given there more diverse entry qualifications.

6. Conclusions

Future external quality assessment is likely to build on the frameworks already applied to higher education establishments by central government. A particular shift will be towards subject benchmarking and the identification of threshold standards. It is expected that programme areas will need to provide evidence that graduates are acquiring the requisite level of abilities and attributes. The acquisition of key skills and employability will form an increasing component in future quality assurance assessment.

Robert D. Hodgkinson
Deputy Director
School of the Built Environment
Liverpool John Moores University


Artimo, K. (ed.) (1996). Computer Assisted Learning and Achieving Quality in the Education of Surveyors. Proceedings of FIG Commission 2 Workshop, Helsinki Technical University, Helsinki, Finland, September 1996.

Barnett, R. (1995). Improving Higher Education, Open University Press, Buckingham UK.

Enemark, S. (ed.) (1993). Facing the Educational Challenges of the Future. Proceedings of FIG Commission 2 Workshop, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark, June 1993.

European Association for International Education, (1995). The European Union’s. Pilot Projects for Evaluation Quality in Higher Education, EAIE, Amsterdam.

FIG Commission 2 (1994). Proceedings of Commission 2 sessions at the FIG XX International Congress, Melbourne, Australia, March 1994.

FIG Commission 2 (1996). Proceedings of Commission 2 sessions at the FIG Working Week, Buenos Aires, Argentina, April 1996.

FIG Commission 2 (1997). Proceedings of Commission 2 sessions at the FIG Working Week, Singapore, May 1997.

FIG Commission 2 (1998). Proceedings of Commission 2 sessions at the FIG XXI International Congress, Brighton, UK, July 1998.

FIG Commission 2 (1999). Proceedings of FIG Commission 2 sessions at the FIG Working Week, Sun City, South Africa, June 1999.

HEFCE, (1995). Assessor’s Handbook, Quality Assessment Division, HEFCE, April-September 1995.

HEQC, (1995). Managing for Quality, Stories and Strategies, HEQC, London.

Kells, H.R. (1995). Building a National Evaluation System for Higher Education: Lessons from Diverse Settings, Higher Education in Europe, Vol. XX, Nos 1-2, 1995, CEPES, Bucharest.

Hodgkinson, R. (1996). Quality Frameworks as a Basis for Diagnosis and Enhancement in Higher Education Institutions, FIG 63rd. PC International Symposium, Buenos Aires.

Hodgkinson, R. and Morgan P. (1997). Contextual and Cultural Issues in Quality, FIG Commission 2 Symposium, Singapore, May 1997.

Hofstede, G. (1984). Culture’s Consequences, International Differences in Work-Related Values, Sage Publications, London 1984.

Liu Yanfang (1998). University Curricula, Teaching Methods and Quality Assurance. Proceedings of FIG Commission 2 Seminar, Wuhan Technical University of Surveying and Mapping, Wuhan, P.R.China, October 1998.

Nightingale, P. and O’Neil, M. (1994). Achieving Quality Learning in Higher Education, Kogan Paul, London.

UNESCO. (1995). Policy Paper for Change and Development in Higher Education, UNESCO, Paris.


Quality Assurance in Surveying Education
Published in English

Published by The International Federation of Surveyors (FIG), FIG Bureau 1996–1999
ISSN: 1018-6530, ISBN: 87-90907-00-0, September 1999, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Printed copies can be ordered from:
FIG Office, Kalvebod Brygge 31-33, DK-1780 Copenhagen V, DENMARK,
Tel: + 45 38 86 10 81,  Email: