Total Quality Management in Higher Education


Montano, Carl B.; Utter, Glenn H.   (1999, ASQ)   Lamar University, Beaumont, TX

Quality Progress    Vol. 32    No. 8
QICID: 13419    August 1999    pp. 52-59
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Article Abstract

A continuous quality improvement (CQI) team in the Admissions Office at Lamar University is using the plan-do-study-act (PDSA) cycle for improving its services. Total quality management (TQM) initiatives had been needed at Lamar, because of declining enrollments, low retention rates for freshmen, and concerns about student satisfaction. The Admission Office was selected for this TQM project because of its already efficient processes and high morale and because a relatively small project was amenable to its operations. After receiving TQM training, the CQI team had three major activities in the Plan phase of the PDSA cycle. First, team members did a SIPOC (suppliers, inputs, process, outputs, customers) analysis and flowcharting of the admissions process. Second, they gathered and charted output data, such as the number of students accepted and rejected. The team also developed a student survey, to which 456 students responded. Third, data were analyzed. This revealed two out-of-control periods during the admissions process. Special causes of these periods were a state budget allocation system that made it impossible to have a strict deadline for admission and a set of television ads that increased walk-ins so greatly that service deteriorated. The student survey highlighted problems like documents being lost or not received by the Admissions Office. Respondents called for more friendly, prompt, and knowledgeable service. The CQI team offered twelve recommendations to solve or prevent these problems. In the Do phase of the PDSA cycle, the University is successfully implementing recommendations like keeping students aware of their registration and payment status. There has been less success in dealing with factors, like advertising, over which the Admissions Office has no direct control.


Case study,Continuous quality improvement (CQI),Higher education,Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle,Process improvement,Total Quality Management (TQM)

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