The Program for Research on Private Higher Education
Dedicated to Building Knowledge about Private Higher Education around the World
PHE Dissertation 8

Quality Assurance in Private Higher Education: The case of Ghana


By Linda Tsevi

A Dissertation Submitted to the University at Albany, State University of New York
In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
School of Education, Department of Educational Administration and Policy Studies

Defense Committee

Kevin Kinser (Chair)
Daniel C. Levy
Alan Wagner


This study explores private higher education and implementation of quality assurance proceduresin Ghana, a country in West Africa. While focusing on the three main isomorphic classifications(coercive, mimetic and normative) of DiMaggio and Powell’s (1983) institutional theory, thisstudy examines how regulatory measures are not only designed to enhance the quality of privatehigher education institutions, but also how they impact the efforts employed by private providerstowards meeting quality assurance standards in the environment in which they are located. Usinga qualitative methodology, participants from five private university colleges and two privatechartered institutions are selected as constituting the sample for this study. In addition, qualityassurance documents from the website of the Ghana’s National Accreditation Board (NAB) aswell as documents from the websites of seven private higher education institutions are codedusing NVivo 10 to determine the kind of efforts made by institutions to convey the message oflegitimacy across to students and other clientele. Other participants are officials from the NAB,higher education specialists and retired faculty of public higher education institutions in Ghana.In general, the outcome of open-ended interviews with selected participants as well as documentsanalyzed found evidence of efforts private institutions are making towards meeting their qualityassurance requirements through mimetic, coercive and normative isomorphism. These areindicated through institutional affiliations, conformity to mentoring (supervising) institution’sprograms, quality assurance requirements and measures established in conformity to the NABrequirements. Higher education specialists advocate that a specific policy aimed at addressingshortage of faculty members in Sub-Saharan Africa should be formulated to take on a moreregional dimension. The Ghanaian private higher education landscape has a number of issuesincluding shortage of academic and non-academic staff, dependence on adjunct faculty, and nonivcompliance to time frame given for program and institutional accreditation. These issues willrequire a holistic approach involving the NAB and the PHEIs in order to find long lastingsolutions. As a result of the continual growth of private higher education providers in Ghana, it isimperative that the NAB make the quality assurance process very welcoming to genuine actors.

Date Published:
Aug 2015
Linda Tsevi