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Quality in Undergraduate Nursing Programmes : The Role of Nursing Council  

Margaret Horsburgh, RGON, RM, RCNA(NZ), EdD, MA(Hons), Dip Ed. Associate Professor of Nursing, Assistant Dean and Director of Nursing, The Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, The University of Auckland

Abstract  

This paper looks broadly at issues to do with quality monitoring in higher education and considers the role and focus of the Nursing Council of New Zealand in the approval of and ongoing monitoring of undergraduate nursing degree programmes. It is suggested that the approach taken by the Nursing Council is accountabilityled where minimal attention is given to teaching and learning and actual graduate outcomes. This may lead to a mistaken belief that Nursing Council’s monitoring focuses on quality or that the outcomes of their monitoring might contribute to programme enhancement. A shift to emphasise learning processes, students and continual improvement in order to enhance programme quality is proposed.  

Key Words: Quality, curriculum, course approval   

Introduction  

This paper looks at issues to do with quality and quality monitoring and considers critically the focus which the New Zealand Nursing Council adopts with respect to monitoring nursing programmes. Quality has many aspects. Hence with respect to any organisation there is a range of activities and evaluation (internal and external) which can be subsumed under what is broadly termed quality monitoring. Because of these different conceptions of what constitutes quality in higher education, quality monitoring may in the end achieve little in the way of enhancing an educational programme (Horsburgh, 1998). Commonly quality monitoring is directed towards high standards, zero defects, value for money and fitness for purpose (Harvey & Knight, 1996). It is contended here that none of these definitions directly encompass the core activities of education which are associated with teaching and learning and which enhance the student learning experience and graduate outcomes. 

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