Int. J. Services Technology and Management, Vol. 7, No.

4, 2006


Effectiveness of ISO 9000 standards in Indian educational institutions: a survey Chandandeep Singh* and Kuldeep Sareen
Department of Mechanical and Production Engineering, Guru Nanak Dev Engineering College, Gill park, Ludhiana, Punjab, India E-mail: E-mail: *Corresponding author
Abstract: ISO 9000 standards are rapidly being implemented in many service industries such as educational institutions, banking sectors and postal services etc. These standards are gaining popularity in educational institutions in particular. Absence of any quality standard specific to education sector has given a scope to implement ISO 9000 quality standards in educational institutions. This paper presents the detailed survey carried out to find out the contribution of ISO 9000 standards in Indian educational institutions. This paper reveals the motives of implementing ISO 9000 standards in educational institutions and its benefits to organisation. These benefits are segregated into four different parts as benefits to system, faculty, students and external benefits to organisation. The survey reveals that the most important motive of the institutions is documentation of the systems of the institute. The encouraging factor is that institutions are being befitted from ISO 9000 certification. Keywords: benefits; educational institutions; ISO 9000; motives. Reference to this paper should be made as follows: Singh, C. and Sareen, K. (2006) ‘Effectiveness of ISO 9000 standards in Indian educational institutions: a survey’, Int. J. Services Technology and Management, Vol. 7, No. 4, pp.403–415. Biographical notes: Chandandeep Singh is a Lecturer in the Department of Mechanical and Production Engineering and Deputy Dean Administration at Guru Nanak Dev Engineering College, Ludhiana. He holds the Master of Technology in Industrial Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi. He is also holding the responsibility of ISO coordinator for successful implementation and follows up of ISO 9000 certification in the institution. His areas of interest are Total Quality Management, Quality Management Systems, Operations Management and Supply Chain Management. He is teaching courses in Total Quality Management, Modelling and Simulation and Supply Chain Management. He has number of articles in International and national journals and conferences. Kuldeep Sareen is a Lecturer in the Department of Mechanical and Production Engineering at Guru Nanak Dev Engineering College, Ludhiana. He also holds the responsibility of Deputy Dean PG studies. He did Master of Technology in Mechanical Design from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay. He has consulting experience in leading private organisations. His areas of interest are Product design and development, Management information systems and modelling and simulation. He has number of articles in International and national journals and conferences.

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Gotzamani (2004) conducted empirical study on the contribution of ISO 9000 standards towards total quality management. attitude to implementation and confidence of understanding the standard among senior management affect the development of a QMS and subsequently organisational performance. UK and Australia has started to implement ISO 9000 (Zuckerman and Rhodes. Lee and Chan (2003) studied the objectives of getting ISO certification. These changes represent a more user friendly standard for educational institutions. educational institutions are inspired to go for some sort of quality management system in order to gain competitive advantage and to promote a strategic development of educational institutes. Singapore. and promote continual improvement.404 C. and major requirements from twenty to following four: 1 2 3 4 Management Responsibility Resource Management Product Realisation Measurement Analysis and Improvement. Elmuti (1996) stated that the ISO 9000 improves operational efficiency and communication within the organisation. heightened quality requirements through tough competition and mushrooming of educational institutes have lead to the quality thrusts nationally and internationally. ISO 9000 standards were revised in 1994 and then 2000. etc. The recent change has decreased the number of available quality system models from three to only one. Canada. postal services. Mittal et al. Yeung. Singh and K. (2002) conducted an empirical study to find out the benefits and problems of ISO 9000 . A variety of educational institution in USA. correct and prevent error. ISO 9000 is a set of quality standards that assist an organisation to identify. Globalisation of market. The latest standard of ISO 9001:2000 is designed to meet the needs of service sector including education sector. It provides uniform products with competitive edge and hence results in greater customer loyalty and market share. It revealed long-term effectiveness and contribution of quality management system in Greek industry. as they have to face stiff global competition. banking services. Many vocational educational institutes have thrust to the quality management system of ISO 9000 in order to establish consistency and control over the quality of such education. Sareen 1 Introduction The quality system was originally created for manufacturing industry. Educational institutes are pressurised to be more efficient. Now service industry is also making lots of effort to improve their service quality. Nair and Gonzales (2004) investigated the strengths and weakness of ISO 9000 quality management systems in vocational education. Absence of any grading system or a specific quality standard of educational institutes in India has given a scope to implement ISO 9000 in educational institutions. Educational institutions are implementing ISO 9000. These ISO 9000 international quality standards are being implemented in many service organisations such as educational institutions. meet the needs of market and engage in long lasting quality improvement efforts. 2000). As a consequence of quality movement in industry. work better with less funding. Webster (1997) suggests that the ISO 9000 system enables a company to look closely at its management practices and identify areas of improvement.

Waks and Frank. 1996. The main purpose of ISO 9000 in education is to provide confidence to the professionals.Effectiveness of ISO 9000 standards 405 implementation faced by small and medium scale industries of India. A seven-step approach to implement ISO 9001:2000 was proposed. students and their parents. Authors such as Peters John (1999) support ISO 9000 as a global quality system for educational institution and assure that education providers are keeping their promises to the students. Mittal (2002) come across some quality issues in schools where implementation of ISO 9000 provided a framework to improve existing resources and processes. As a society we want that institution must ensure quality of education to provide able professionals for continuous growth and development (Karapetrovic et al. The effective implementation of these quality management systems could provide a foundation on which TQM could be attained (Gotzamani and Tsiotras. the learning environment and improvement of knowledge. employees and various other stakeholders. 1994.. Some of the questions raised in different articles are: 1 2 Do quality management systems really encourage continuous improvement in educational institution? What are the motives of educational institutions behind certification? . implementation and TQM adoption in educational institution.. Quality assurance in education is a multifaceted problem. Education is vital for society and no one can ignore its role and contribution. There are only a limited number of articles concerns quality standard. 1998). industry and society. students. This study explores the motives of implementing ISO 9000 standards. Number of researchers provided reviews and case studies of implementing TQM in higher education (Lindstorm. 1994. instructional delivery. The scope of application ranges from relatively small laboratories to whole institute (Chin et al. 1997. Moreland and Clark. Student and their parents are rightfully questioning the quality of curriculum. The competitive environment demands students to have in depth and practical knowledge. Barbara and Maling (2000) suggested eight dimensions for evaluating the impact of ISO 9000 on organisations. Karapetrovic (2001) addressed the issues of why and how engineering schools could implement the ISO 9001:2000 standard. understanding of their specific area along with interpersonal and communication skills. Nair and Gonzales (2004) discovered that the ability of school employees to make decisions and to solve problems was improved by the ISO 9000. Lo and Sculli. 2 ISO 9000 standards in education Education itself is a multi-million dollar industry and is very important for country’s development. 1999). Presently educational institutions in India are also facing a challenging environment similar to that of any other service organisation. 1998). problems faced during implementation and benefits after implementation of this standard in educational institutes of India. Owlia and Aspinwall. The quality of an educational institute is expected to be perfect by various stakeholders such as parents. 2001) This paper is an attempt to explore the practice of ISO 9000 standards in Indian educational institutions. The schools had an improvement of their general procedures and an increased credibility in the community.

increased efficiency of organisation. wishing to implement ISO 9000 quality management systems.406 3 4 5 C. 1994). improving efficiency. Huarng et al. corrected and prevented in a systematic manner (Karapetrovic. Motwani et al. quality problems can be identified. increase in faculty training and development.. have number of motives behind its implementation. ISO 9000 standards have made strong impact on institutions. 1999) indicated that organisations are driven by some . financial results. The findings indicated the strengths of ISO 9000 in vocational institutes such as improving the institutional leadership. the benefits are categorised into four groups. 2. These include improvements in operations and methods. depending on the way that companies choose to implement them (Tsiotras and Gotzamani. less time consumption to assess the documents and increased involvement of people. employee’s motivation and encouragement. Documentation improves understanding among faculty and staff and can be used to train newly hired staff (Harris and Oven. neutral or negative. In accordance with the classification given in Vloeberghs and Bellens (1996). staff and students. Doherty (1995) expressed that a educational institution get the market advantage by mentioning in market brochures such as ‘First ISO certified engineering school in country’. Some studies (Lipovatze et al. 1996).. Rajamani et al. future customers (students) likely demand. Nair and Gonzales (2004) used focus group methods to investigate ISO 9000 implementation at nine career and technical centres in Pennsylvania. benefits for the customers and benefits for the workers. Government accreditation is essential for every educational institution in India. Beaver (1994) pointed out that quality management is very essential to reassure that educational institutions perform well and that the customers of education are being well served.(1998) pointed that documentation is one of the motives of educational institutions to implement such quality management systems. 1995. Berghe (1997) conducted a survey in UK institutions and found that institutions sought the standards to improve market share and for promotional purposes.2 Benefits of ISO 9000 standards to educational institution The standards’ long-term contribution to the organizations may be positive. a good promotional tool. Taylor. The overall systems of educational institute can be streamlined. Berghe (1997) discussed some benefits of ISO 9000 standards in educational institutions such as increase in consistency of operations. faculty. namely the operational results. 2001). So market and government accreditation benefits are generated. more awareness regarding roles and responsibilities. 1999. (1996) has summarised the benefits of ISO 9000 implementation. Sareen Can ISO 9000 certification boost and enhance institution’s commitment to quality education? Is it really a sign of commitment or just another marketing tool? Can it serve as a first step towards accreditation of institutions and total quality management? 2. Therefore implementation of ISO 9000 quality management systems in India is considered as the driving force to get accreditation certification/designation from government agencies. Singh and K.1 Motives of ISO 9000 standards Educational institutions.

2. paper intensive and more time consumption. and related factors to obtain ISO registration. These benefits are further classified as benefits to system. Calingo et al. Bevans-Gonzales et al. Faculty and staff feel more obligations and more time consumed in such activities.3 Difficulties in ISO 9000 implementation There are number of difficulties in the path to ISO 9000 certification. Since last five years many educational institutions in India are adopting ISO 9000 standard as a mean to improve the quality of processes and the educational system. The high costs of implementation. He expressed that time spent checking paper work is a major obligation felt by employees. number of employees in the organisation. perception of organisation. time taken to implement ISO 9000. The quality system provides a clearer articulation of the rights and responsibilities of students. A five point Likert scale (from 1 = poor and . Doherty (1995) identified the amount of time and effort of faculty and staff required for such activity is a major problem. etc. (2004) recognised the problems by the focus group conducted at the centres are lack of understanding ISO 9000 standards.Effectiveness of ISO 9000 standards 407 external forces such as customer pressure. (1995) indicated that employee resistance to change and lack of employees’ commitments are the major hurdles in ISO implementation process. 1 First section of questionnaire was related to the general information about the organisation such as type of educational institution. faculty and students and problems faced during implementation. 1995). The main difficulties in ISO 9000 implementation are constraints on resources that are time. faculty and students after implementing ISO 9000 standards. It also reveals the benefits to the system. faculty and students. faculty and staff (Doherty. high project costs and resistance by employees due to more responsibilities. Second section was designed to know the motives that lead Indian educational institutions to get ISO 9000 certification. Last section had questions to know the benefits acquired by institutions and problems faced during implementation. a questionnaire was developed which consists of mainly three parts. 3 Methodology This study is purely a survey to find out the effectiveness of ISO 9000 standards in Indian educational institutions. volumes of paperwork were seen as the major problems related to ISO 9000. This paper presents the study conducted to identify the motives behind seeking the certification. shrinking university budget and lack of finance support by the government are main difficulties mentioned by the respondents. The survey examined the issues concerning motives behind certification in educational institutions. 1998). manpower and finance (Quazi and Padibju. benefits to the system. 2 3 Experts in this field were consulted to modify the questionnaire as per their suggestion and validate the content of questionnaire. A survey has been carried out to see how Indian institutions understand the concept of ISO 9000 standards. Berghe (1997) conducted a survey and pointed out that the high cost of implementation. Based on literature survey.

thus a response rate of 28% with all possible efforts. Sareen 5 = excellence) was chosen for all questionnaire items. Management representative was chosen as respondent because he has ultimate responsibility for effective implementation of quality management systems. The general characteristics of the respondents are shown in Table 1. Figure 1 Different categories of the respondents . The questionnaire was filled up by the Management Representative (MR) of quality management system from every institute. The certified institutions were asked to evaluate their performance on the basis of these elements. Management institutions (2). Technical education board and Indian Medical Association (IMA). There are only 4. Polytechnic colleges (2) and Medical institute (1). It was found that 81% of the educational institutions are taking 6–12 months to implement ISO standards in their institutions. By June 2005. Some of the educational institutions were contacted personally to increase the response rate. Respondent institutions are classified as Engineering institutions (16). It shows a big contribution and role of external consultants. Some medical institutions were approached to find out the reasons behind this poor response. It is considered to be adequate for this kind of survey. The response among the medical institutes was very poor and alarming. Singh and K. All the institutions are getting services from external body by hiring an external consultant. Educational institutions were randomly selected from the list provided by the AICTE. Majority of the respondent institutions (52. Management representative is a senior faculty member in every organisation and is well aware about the benefits of implementation and problems faced during implementation process. 21 valid responses were received. It is an encouraging factor for consulting firms and consultants.4%) are having 100–150 number of employees. But there is not even a single respondent having more than 150 employees. It was surprising to know that even doctors were not aware about the ISO 9000 certification. The response percentage of these institutions is shown in Figure 1. Even the engineering colleges are also taking the help from consultants.7% institutions taking more than 18 months to implement these standards.408 C. The questionnaire was sent to seventy five (75) ISO 9000 certified institutions during the month of March 2005.

a thorough examination of the motives that lead the organisations to apply for the ISO 9000. Documentation helps the faculty. The institutes were asked to rate the different motives on the basis of extent of influence on their decision to get ISO 9000 certification. Third factor identified from findings is market advantage over the other institutions. The least important motive considered is Industry Institute Interaction that means ISO certification is not playing an important role to improve the relationship between institution and . 1 General characteristics of the respondents Characteristics Time taken for implementation of ISO 9000 Less than 6 months 6–12 months 12–18 months More than 18 months 2 Number of staff members Less than 50 50–100 100–150 More than 150 3 Hired a service of consultant Yes No 21 0 100 0 02 08 11 0 03 17 01 0 Frequency 409 Percent (%) 14. So institutions are considering ISO 9000 as a initiative to get this esteemed status. benefits of ISO 9000 standards to educational institutions were carried out.1 Motives of implementing ISO 9000 standards in institutions The main motives that lead educational institutions to implement ISO 9000 are extracted from literature review. (1999) and Yahya and Goh (2001). A high mean score of documentation should not be surprising because documentation is the core process of ISO 9001:2000 standards. No. students and staff to define clear roles and responsibilities.1 52. 4.3 81. They were asked to indicate it on a five point Likert scale.0 4. Statistical analysis was carried out to find out the significance and correlation of different parameters.5 38. The high scores for better documentation have also been acknowledged by Quazi and Padibjo (1998). The second important motive considered is to get accreditation from National Board of accreditation. Lipovatz et al. The documentation streamlines the working of institutions. The survey also attempted to determine where the companies experienced difficulties in implementing ISO 9000 standards.4 0 4 Results and discussion In order to analyse the effectiveness of ISO 9000 contribution educational institutions. The survey reveals that the most important motive of the institutions is the documentation of the system of the institution.Effectiveness of ISO 9000 standards Table 1 S.7 0 9.

The Table 3 summarises the benefits to the system. organisations are not able to improve the efficiency. It means how the overall working of the institutions improved with ISO 9000 implementation.507 ** ** 0.417** 0.355 0. The Table 3 summarises the different benefits to the system. Results also indicate that Indian institutions are lesser benefited in improvement in work efficiency of the institutions. formats and registers etc. Internal benefits are benefits to system.57 3. Institutions maintain the records as an evidence of activities performed and results achieved. A list of possible benefits was extracted from a thorough literature review on ISO 9000 benefits to certified organisations.865 0.2 Benefits of implementing ISO 9000 in educational institutions The respondents were asked to rate the benefits that ISO 9000 had brought to their Institutions after implementation. to maintain all kind of records. The respondents were asked to rate on a Likert scale of 1–5. **Correlation is significant at 90% confidence interval.072 0.10 S.2. where 1 = very less benefit from ISO 9000 implementation and 5 = excellent benefits from ISO 9000 implementation.651 0. . The documentation also improves understanding among the faculty and staff. The area.D* 0. The survey evaluated the internal and external benefits that educational institutions achieved from ISO 9000 certification.62 3. is maintenance of records.978 1.740 0. and can be used to train newly hired staff. It means every variable contribute towards the overall improvement of educational system.285 * Standard Deviation.031 0.19 3.044 0.95 3. Singh and K.200 ** 0. which experienced the greatest benefits. Table 2 Motives of educational institutions to get ISO 9000 certification Mean 4.316 0. Third benefit is improvement in education imparting techniques with average score of 3.325 0.71 3. 4. Sareen industry.81.385** 0.410 C. benefits to faculty and benefits to students.580 Motive of Implementation Documentation and Maintenance of Records (DMR) Getting accreditation from top educational bodies (ACC) Market Advantage (MA) Overall Improvement of System (OIS) Competitive Pressure (CP) Industry–Institute Interaction (III) DMR ACC MA OIS CP 0.956 0. 4.680 0.283 0. It is really surprising that by keeping good records.1 Benefit to the system The system refers to the overall working of the institution.374** 0. Intensity of Influence of each motive and their correlation is shown in Table 2.121 0. The second important benefit to the system is that employees are clear about their roles and responsibilities. The correlation coefficient indicates that overall improvement of system has positive correlation with all other variables. The institutions decided to keep the forms.

Some of the institutions are giving extra efforts to improve the pass percentage of the students. telephone.856 0.012 0.700 0.71 3. The quality of education is highly dependent on the faculty. (2004) said that students are the customers of educational institutions and their satisfaction is the prime objective. Some teachers pointed out that ISO 9000 helped to provide them resources and they are now having computer.920* 4. The contribution of ISO 9000 standards towards faculty members cannot be overlooked. Significance 0.889 0.14 3.Effectiveness of ISO 9000 standards Table 3 Benefits to the system after implementing ISO 9000 Mean 4.2. Other benefits are control in non-conforming activities and introduction of suggestion schemes. in their offices.902 t-value 5. Now most of the faculty members are making plans of their lectures and check how much they are able to deliver as per the schedule.101 * Benefits to faculty Lecture planning and delivery Availability of improved infrastructure Faculty training and development Improvement through feedback from students Motivation and encouragement *Significant at 99% confidence interval.772** 2.966* 3.949* 3.2.110 4. instruction and peer collaboration and with support services (Zhao.000 0.006 0.024 1.2 Benefits to faculty Faculty is a core member of ant educational institution.451 4.225 ** 1.038 0.90 3. Student satisfaction is defined in terms of course quality.671 411 Benefits to System Improvement in maintenance of records Clarification of roles and responsibilities of employees Education imparting techniques Easy accessibility and traceability of documents Helps to define objectives and goals Improvement in work efficiency of institutions *significant at 99% confidence interval.162 2.05 3. internet etc.784 t-value 7.000 0.204* 5. Table 4 Benefits to faculty after implementing ISO 9000 Mean 4.62 3.056 1. **Significant at 95% confidence interval. 2003). Results also indicate that faculty members are lesser benefited in terms of motivation and encouragement. Students are getting benefits in terms of facilities. Table 4 shows the benefits achieved by the faculty after implementing ISO 9000 in an institution. ISO 9000 standards made significant contribution to satisfy the students. Results also indicate that students are lesser benefited in .29 SD 0.927* 3.81 3.001 0.48 3.000 0.750 0.805 1.29 SD 0.62 3.727 0.281* 1.000 0. They are now getting more facilities than before ISO 9000 implementation. The next benefit is availability of infrastructure in their offices and labs etc. The most encouraging benefit is improvement in lecture planning and delivery.004 0.078 0.3 Benefits to students Sahney et al. Significance 0.76 3.

The top five internal benefits perceived by respondents are as follows: 1 2 3 4 5 improvement in maintenance of records better and scheduled Lecture planning and delivery clarification of Roles and responsibilities of employees better education imparting techniques improvement in facilities to students. Singh and K.625. The mean score of all the internal benefits is 3.981 0. Sareen terms of industrial visits during there study period. with ISO certification.750 0.52 3.996 * Table 5 Benefits to students Improvement in facilities to students Control in non conforming activities Suggestion schemes to solve the students problems More industrial visits *Significant at 99% confidence interval.973 t-value 3. The results revealed that Indian institutions are most bothered by scarcity of time. They feel that ISO standards are time consuming and paper intensive. Table 5 shows the mean score of each benefit obtained by students after implementing ISO 9000 It is concluded that all mean values of internal benefits are higher than three. 4. The respondents were asked to indicate the perceived level of problem in implementing ISO 9000 using the scale of 5–1 (5 = very big problem.48 3.81 3. less class time’ and felt like they already had full workloads.412 C. 1 = very small problem).526 0. commitment and lack of obligations (ranked first and second). **Significant at 90% confidence interval.645 1.001 0. ‘more paperwork.928 0. Benefits to students after implementing ISO 9000 Mean 3. But they are not capable of generating funds from external bodies such as accreditation boards.202* 0. etc. Most of the faculty members were frustrated at the time spent away from classrooms commenting.2.9 to 2. The overall mean score ranges from 1.38 SD 0.4 External benefits Survey results indicated that Indian educational institutions considered improved perception about organisation and better quality of intake students as more important external benefit. The findings of the problems are documented in Figure 2. which indicate that Indian educational institutions .088 3. Significance 0. Some feel that ISO standards require more meeting and documentation. Ministry of human resource and industries.3 Problems faced during ISO 9000 certification From the literature review. The mean scores of all the problems are compared and one with highest score is a major problem.793** 4. suggesting that implementation of ISO 9000 standards leads to the beneficial outcomes. some problems were listed and Institutions were asked to rank the problems faced by them during certification.29.004 0.

It shows that role of external consultant is very important. Figure 2 Problems faced during ISO 9000 certification 5 Conclusion The ISO 9000 standards have tended to be successful in the manufacturing and service industries. faculty and students. The current literature available about ISO 9000 in education shows that there are positive and negative aspects to implementing the standards in education institutions. It is an encouraging factor for consulting firms and consultants. but their application to education is relatively new. it is proved that ISO 9000 is highly beneficial to system.Effectiveness of ISO 9000 standards 413 find fewer difficulties in getting ISO certification. Second. the main motive of implementing ISO 9000 standard in Indian educational institutions is improved documentation and better maintenance of records. This is because of the fact that all institutions are hiring consultant to get ISO certificate. It improves the maintenance of records and defined the clear role and responsibilities of each and every one involved. The research findings collected are the valuable beginning to the study of ISO 9000 as a quality system for educational institutions. benefits of certifications and problems faced during implementation of ISO 9000. Fourth. Few points are concluded from the study. most of the institutions hire services of external consultants and takes less than one year for certification. Major problem they are facing is scarcity of time and commitment and lack of obligations. they are facing very few problems during ISO 9000 implementation and extent of problems is very low. Institutions considered improved perception about their organisation and better quality of intake students. This study obtained data from twenty-one Indian educational institutions and identified motives for certification. Third. . First.

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