External quality monitoring (EQM) is not restricted to one or two types of higher education system.
In one sense, the introduction of external quality monitoring, despite the added workload of self-evaluations and peer reviews, was a useful exercise in focusing attention on quality issues, not least what institutions are for, how they operate and how they could do things better and in a more responsive way.
None of this should be surprising as behind nearly all external quality monitoring is a political motive designed to ensure two basic things: that higher education is still delivering despite the cut in resources and increase in student numbers; and that higher education is accountable for public money.
Recent accounts from nine countries suggest that external quality monitoring: has an initial `shock effect' resulting in quality issues being placed on internal agendas, of raising the profile of teaching, and increasing accountability to stakeholders--principally funders and students.
In Chile, the existence of external quality monitoring has led to the establishment of permanent quality control or accrediting processes within institutions, some significant curriculum content reforms and improvement of instruments for assessing student learning and the implementation of pedagogical upgrading programs (Silva, Reich & Gallegos, 1997).
However, she suggests that this may be as much to do with the impact of new technology as to external quality monitoring. Furthermore, some of her colleagues are far from convinced that external quality monitoring represents an overall gain rather than loss as the costs of the process include excessive bureaucratisation, greatly increased administrative workload, a formalism that can stifle creativity and individuality and an implicit lack of trust in academic staff.
There is a growing momentum to link external quality monitoring more firmly to internal procedures for quality improvement (Rasmussen, 1995; Rovio-Johansson & Ling, 1995).
Only if external quality monitoring is clearly linked to an internal culture of continuous quality improvement that focuses on identifying stakeholder requirements in an open, responsive manner will it be effective in the long run.