This thesis is an international comparative case study that investigates the perceptions, policies, and implementation of quality assurance (QA) programs in the learner support areas of three distance-teaching universities (DTUs) in Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia. Whilst participant accounts varied in their emphasis to understand and measure educational products and services that meet students’ requirements, their perspectives on QA reflect the importance of quality guidelines to achieve expected outcomes. The adoption of QA programs has led to diverse critical challenges from both internal and external environments. For example, the participants reported that the implementation of QA was perceived as being too demanding. This situation has been exacerbated by the fact that government quality standards do not correspond well to the practice of distance education, as the standards have not been specifically designed for DTUs. Although there were different QA policies in learner support areas, these DTUs shared similarities in terms of area of focus. Referring to their QA policy texts stated in quality manuals and the evidence drawn from interview data, the overall quality policy in learner support areas can be classified into two dimensions: teaching and learning provisions which address the employment of blended learning pedagogy and support services that include a variety of non-academic kinds of support to promote students in how to be effective distance learners. The findings indicate that the implementation of QA in learner support areas were supported by the centralized QA management systems and the distributed learning centers throughout the countries. The implementation of QA in learner support also was related to the universities’ external environments. Local language, educational technology, external QA agencies, government, and students have been identified as the major external factors that support the application of the QA in learner support areas. Continuous quality improvement has been maintained through the adoption of self-assessments that address the importance of students’ feedback, the implementation of regular management review meetings, and the invitation of external quality professional bodies to validate their QA programs. The adoption of internal and external QA audits allows these three DTUs to use current QA processes to inform better QA practices.
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