Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Prepared by: Norizan bin Mansor, Assoc. Prof Wan Yusoff Wan Mahmood, Ismail Haron and
Assoc Prof Zakaria Mohd Yusof
Department of Quantity Surveying, Faculty of Built Environment, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Skudai, Johor

Higher education has an important and seemingly increasing role in Malaysian society. This phenomenon can be seen from ever increasing proportion of the youth entering higher education yearly. At the same time there seems to be an increasing need for further education among people already in workforce. The situation has resulted the available government's higher learning institutions not being able to provide adequate places. A more open system of education has been adopted by the government acts as catalyst for present remarkable growth of private higher learning institutions offering various level of Quantity Surveying courses with variety of arrangement The phenomenon has given rise to increased public concern with respect to the quality of graduates produced by the institutions involved. The approach of TQM can be adapted in Quantity Surveying Education in the effort to produce quality graduates and enhancing the profession as a whole. The paper discusses the present senario of Quantity Surveying Education in Malaysia, approach in implementing TQM and educational process involved.

Total Quality Management, Quantity Surveying, Education


Total Quality Management and continous improvement philosophies have at last become the focus of construction industry in Malaysia. Based on this development, it cannot be over emphasised the need to address the quality management in construction education.

Quantity Surveying Education as a subsystem is no exception in this respect. As such the institutions that produce quantity surveying graduates must take part to enhance education quality in their organisations.

This paper will address the current scenario of the Quantity Surveying Education in Malaysia and discuss the process and quality management framework for quantity surveying education.


Total Quality Management (TQM) as given in ISO (1994) is the management approach of an organisation, centred on quality, based on the participation of all its members and aiming a long term success through customers satisfaction and benefits to all members of the organisation and society.

Based on the above definition, TQM can be seen as a structured system for creating organisation-wide participation in planning and implementing a continous improvement process (Oblinger, 1995). The process of improvement begins with building a clear understanding of the organisation's mission, customers, values and vision (Sylwester and Harris, 1991).


As there is always 'improvement potential' and that TQM is a way to address such matters, what can be achieved with such an approach? According to Lindquist (1997) there seems to be some common ways in which TQM has been approached:

a) Teaching of TQM
TQM can be introduced in the curricula, which could be motivated by the use of TQM in business. Such element could be particularly beneficial for students who are likely to become employees in organisations where TQM have been adopted.

b) TQM in Organisational Development
Administrative functions in Quantity Surveying Education are not much different from the business counterparts or elsewhere in the public sector. Therefore, it is logical that there are a number of cases where TQM has been used as a framework for improvements in administrative area.

c) TQM in Teaching and Learning
There are basically three ways in which teaching and learning could be enhanced as a result of adopting a TQM approach
i) Reduction of the amount of non-productive time and resources spent by
ii) The effectiveness of teaching could be enhanced by addressing issues such as customers needs thoroughly than what is common.
iii) An explicit TQM approach in teaching could stimulate students to embrace a self reflective attitude which is an integral element in continous improvement and consequently a core aspect of TQM


Higher education has an important and seemingly increasing role in Malaysian society. This phenomenon can be seen from ever increasing proportion of the youth entering higher education yearly. At the same time there seems to be an increasing need for further education among people already in workforce. In short, having an academic degree has become a pre-requisite for many occupations.

The situation has resulted the available government's higher learning institutions (UTM, UM, UITM, and UIA) not being able to provide adequate places. As such the government has endorsed a more open system of education. The move acts as catalyst for present remarkable growth of private higher learning institutions in the country.

Many of these private learning institutions are offering the quantity surveying courses either at certificate, diploma or degree level through full time or part-time study. Most of the courses are carried out via twinning or franchising arrangement.

The phenomenon has given rise to increased public concern with respect to the quality of graduates produced by the institutions involved.

To restore the public confidence in the quality of Quantity Surveyors in Malaysia, the Board of Quantity Surveyors Malaysia (LJUBM), has decided to take an immediate action by establishing Quantity Surveying Education Council (QSEC) and Quantity Surveying Accreditation Council (QSAC). The QSEC will establish criteria and standards required for Quantity Surveying courses both locally and in foreign institutions for the needs of the Quantity Surveying education in Malaysia. The Council will also recommend to the LJUBM any topping-up requirement or special scheme for non-accredited courses or non-recognised qualifications. The QSAC will, on the other hand accredit all Quantity Surveying courses for recognition by the LJUBM.

It is envisaged if the institutions of higher learning, both public and private, are willing to establish Quality Management System in their organisations, it will serve as a check and balance or self-correction for the Quantity Surveying Education offered by them. Course curriculum will be monitored and evaluated on a continous basis, including regular evaluation of student feedback. This will in turn make it easier for the LJUBM in executing its tasks.


The success of an institution producing Quantity Surveying graduates depends upon the quality of education provided and delivered.

The Quality of Education is defined as the totality of the learning experience, which enables students to effectively achieve worthwhile learning objective, including the achievement of appropriate academic standards (Tannock and Burge, 1994).

According to Tannock and Burge (1994), the first aspect for the Quality of Education is the academic standard, i.e. the result of the education process. This can be seen in term of students' competencies in going through the course and successfully completing the education programme. This academic standard depends on the collective judgements of the academic and professional community in Quantity Surveying. The second aspect is the learning objective which comprises three main areas, namely knowledge, understanding, skill and abilities.

In term of knowledge, students must possess the right and sufficient body of knowledge, representing Quantity Surveying fundamentals as described in the detail syllabus documentation.

In term of understanding, students must possess understanding regarding aims, principles and fundamentals of Quantity Surveying within the setting of industry and society. Students will then be able to appreciate the place of each element of knowledge , assimilating future developments as they arise within appropriate context, and solving problems although not directly related to the knowledge acquired.

In term of skills and abilities, students must possess the following abilities
· A range of appropriate and effective study and presentation skills

· The ability to utilize a range of Quantity Surveying and other knowledge as described in the detailed syllabus documentation

· The ability to work effectively both individually and as a team member


According to Oblinger (1995) to be able to put the concept of TQM to work, one should first understand about process and system. A process is a set of closely related steps and activities required to perform a well-defined task. Planning a course syllabus is a process. On the other hand, a system is a collection of processes designed to reach some overall objective such as long range planning, recruiting and developing a faculty. If quality improvement is to occur, everyone must have a clear understanding of processes and systems. One technique is by constructing a flow diagram (see Figure 1).

               Figure 1 : Quantity Surveying Educational System

Cox (1996) views the above figure as follows:

Raw Materials (Inputs)
The raw materials (i.e. students) that are placed into the value adding process of education come from an array of sources. For instance, the secondary schools provide a large majority of students entering or taking Quantity Surveying education. These students require some additional value-adding attention before they are considered finished products of the institution. Such attention include the development of social skills and providing an environment that will nurture the maturing students through conscientious advising and mentoring.

The other raw material providers, the polytechnics or colleges provide their own value-added process to the students. The products of their educational system become either a finished product or an enhanced input into another educational system.

Value Adding Process
The educational process itself is the value adding process. Through teaching and learning students increase their knowledge, as well as their ability to learn, which in turn adds a potential value to the construction industry.

The Product
The product is a person with potential to contribute to an organisation or society immediately upon graduation. Following an education, a person should posses the required attributes, be able to accept a role within an organisational system and make a measurable contribution to their overall performance.

The Customer
It is very difficult to grasp the concept of an educational system without identifying the customer and clearly defining their expectations and needs.

There are many customers and end-users of the product of higher education. The main customer is the corporate or government. They are actually the one paying for the products. As such institutions normally appoint advisory committee from the industry so that it best meets their needs and to ensure the students hired are able to contribute directly to their organisation's performance.

Performance Measurement
A quality is not complete without some form of evaluation that will lead to continous improvement. The performance of the education system can come in many areas such as grade point average, cost per student hour, graduate employment rate, refereed publications by the faculty and students, research funding, student completion rates, demand for course measured through application and enrolment figure etc. This leads to such other measures as accreditation activities by governing authorities (LAN), registration board (LJUBM) and professional institution (ISM) as well as innovative delivery system and ideas.

In any case, it is up to the developers of the system to continously define the key performance indicator for their system. This must be done in conjunction with the design, development, and enhancement of an effective performance measurement system that will promote continous improvement.


Cox (1996) considers there are various strategies for implementing TQM, some of which are

· Top Management Commitment
Implementing TQM is a never ending process that must be constantly and genuinely supported by the leadership of the organisation. This means that to accomplish the effort at the respective level of a university structure, the program dean, department head, or course director must take proactive role in ensuring that the followers understand the changes and are motivated to make the transformation to total quality.

· Provide Direct Access to Customers
Direct access to both internal and external customers allows for timely and accurate responses to customers' needs and expectations. No matter the identity of our customers, there must be a direct link from the customers to the value adding process through advisory councils, surveys, interviews, etc. This is in line with the maxim that satisfied customers are an organisation's best marketing department.

· Involvement Promotes Acceptance
Based on the idea that participation increases ownership, commitment and loyalty of everyone involved, quality leaders must develop, support and facilitate the team effort to ensure success.

· Scope of Implementation
It must be remembered that the scope of quality implementation should not exceed the level of control or influence of those leading the implementation. In addition, limit the scope to those processes that need the most improvement, but do not attempt something that is perceived as impossible.

· Develop a Plan
As implementing TQM will involve organisational change, there must be a formalized plan that will provide a road map for successful implementation of TQM in the organisation.

· Embrace Technology
Change is enhanced through technology. In fact many times technology is the catalyst for change. With respect to quality movement in education, technology is the leading component for new directions being faced today. Some of these include distance learning, CD-Rom, virtual reality classrooms, internet and integrated information technology that give students and faculty access to virtually everything in real time.

· Lead by Example
Remember this : Do not do as I say, do as I do. In order to truly lead the changes to total quality, top level persons must genuinely show their support and dedication through own action. Do not ever expect others to do anything that you are not willing to do.


The present era of globalisation of education, has forced the higher education institutions to provide a quality Quantity Surveying education. Implementing TQM in the individual institution is the first step towards that. It enables the institution to increase its efficiency, attract more quality students and increase the quality of graduates produced to the benefit of the organisation and nation or even the world at large.

Apart from these benefits, the existence of comprehensive and well planned system will make the institution ever ready for the accreditation by both local and even foreign regulatory bodies.


ISO (1994). Quality management and Quality Assurance - Vocabulary, Report Number : ISP 8402, International Organisation for Standardisaton, Geneva.

Loder, C (1992). Quality Assurance and Accountability in Higher Education. London : Kogan Page.

Lundquist, R (1997). Quality in Higher Education - Approaches to Its management and Improvement, Licentiate Thesis 1997 : 46, Department of Business Administration and Social Sciences, Lulea University of Technology, Sweden.

Oblinger, D.G (1995). Total Quality Management in Higher Education – A Continous Improvement Process. International Business Machines, May.

Peters, J (1996). ISO 9000 as a Global Educational Accreditation Structure. IEQA Conference Proceeding.

Cox, R.F (1996). Addressing the Paradox of Implementing TQM in Construction Education. CIB W89 Beijing International Conference Proceedings.

Sylwester, D.L and Harris, J.W (1991). Quality Improvement in Higher Education – an Overview. Research Report RR 91-14, Center for Assessment Research and Development, Knoxville.

Tannock, J.D.T and Burge, S.E (1994). A Practical Approach to Implementing Quality Management in Higher Education, EPC Occasional Paper No. 7.


cipie said...

Dear sir,

Please help to send me The Malaysian Competency Standards for Quantity Surveyors for Workshop and Convention discusion on Standard Kompetensi Kerja Nasional Indonesia Quantitity Surveyor (SKKNI QS)for our country. Or the website address to download.

Thanks very much


eng_emy said...

good article

Anonymous said...

good for dissertation literature review though..TQ

ukur bahan : quantity surveying said...

Dear Anonymous
What is more important is the students must understand the article.

kira said...

this article get me know more n strengthen my ambition to join it