Analysing complaints and grievances as a quality improvement tool in higher education



Complaints and grievances are useful quality assurance tools in the identification of shortcomings which impede quality of higher educational delivery. However, there is a dearth of studies that analysed complaints by stakeholders in the higher education sector in Zimbabwe. This study used documentary research to examine the origin, frequency and types of complaints lodged with the higher education quality assurance agency by staff, students and other higher education stakeholders. Records of all complaints received through written, electronic, verbal or telephonic means from 2011 and 2014 were reviewed, analysed and categorised. The results revealed an upward trend in the number of complaints from 2011 to 2014. Out of the 179 complaints received over the study period, 45% were from academic staff members, 38% from students, 7% from employers, 6% from the public, 1% from media houses and 3% were anonymous. The complaints related to high workloads (93%), large class sizes (60%), high administration expenses relative to teaching and research (49%), favouritism and corruption (44%) and poor quality of graduates (11%). The study informs higher education institutions on areas they need to concentrate on in order to improve quality and recommends institutions to develop and implement effective internal grievance management systems.

Keywords: complaints, quality, higher education, academics, students

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