Edited by Pierre Benckendorff and Anita Zehrer
Chapter 36: Quality versus standards: challenges in quality assurance in tourism education
The chapter considers the features of the tourism curriculum before discussing the merits and challenges involved in attempting to assure the quality of academic practice by employing a standardization approach. While the inherent value and the direct or indirect contribution of quality assurance mechanisms to promoting educational quality are unequivocal, the chapter discusses a number of conceptual contradictions in approaches towards operationalizing these mechanisms (notably between consistency and conformity, setting optimum as opposed to minimum standards, and focusing on the spirit/principles rather than the letter/procedures of quality assurance mechanisms). It also observes that when the emphasis is primarily on accountability and verification rather than enhancement and excellence, a quality assurance system may not yield its maximum benefits. The chapter relates the discussion to existing research on tourism education and attempts to identify the influence of factors related to the requirements of the tourism and hospitality industry, to the priorities of educational establishments, to academic management and administration procedures, and to individual academics’ approaches.
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