Several apparently contradictory forces have been at work on higher education in the last decade.
The pressure to cut unit costs forces institutions to look at ways of teaching more students with the same or fewer resources and staff.
Yet, at the same time, governments have launched a plethora of quality assurance measures, intended to ensure that cost-cutting does not compromise quality but, ideally, is accompanied by enhanced quality.
These issues are not confined to the British higher education system: declining unit of resource, more accountable universities and massification of higher education are issues being faced by higher education systems across the world.
Transforming Higher Education asks:
* How should quality in higher education be conceptualized?
* How should quality be promoted?
* How can higher education be transformed so that student learning may also be transformed?
The theme of the book is that the drive for quality in Britain, and elsewhere, and the reform of teaching and learning processes have not been connected, organizationally or in practice: change has been driven by the search for efficiency and by a quest for greater, bureaucractic accountability.
Harvey and Knight argue that, whatever the merits of these developments, they have not been directly concerned to improve the quality of student learning.
They argue not just that student learning ought to be at the centre of discussions about quality enhancement, but that the goal ought to be transformation: transformation of universities with a view to transforming learners.