Quality in technical education system is pertinent to provide high quality human resources and excellence in emerging technologies. In the scenario of phasing out of the quota regime, globalization phenomenon has affected textile education as well. Existing course curriculum is not enough to meet the challenge of competitive world market. Hence there is a need to improve the quality of various facets of textile education. Success in increasing consistency of a product or enhancing service quality centers around an effective Quality Management System. In general, the ISO 9001:2000 serves this purpose and its successful implementation brings about the desired dynamism and continual improvement in textile education system. Since quality in textile education can be improved on a continuous basis, the importance and fundamental principles of TQM is also relevant to facilitate the quality of service. Involvement of direct customers (students), indirect customers (parents), and ultimate customers (employers) in the teaching-learning process in textile education is a multifaceted approach. Integration of all functions, processes and personnel enhances the quality of service and it excels in all dimensions. The challenging environment in 21st century demands that textile education should be meaningful and responsive to develop a mechanism to produce dynamic and technically competitive human resource in order to meet the challenges of the global world. Right and effective strategies needs to be adopted for affecting quality improvements in textile education thereby making it relevant and useful not only for the sustained growth and development of the textile institutes but also in serving the societies in a progressive way.

1. Introduction

In todays international marketplace the challenges involved with sustaining a competitive sector like textile are greater than any other consumer products. Increasing pressures due to globalization, including Chinas entry into the World Trade Organization, the US Trade and Development Act and the federal governments Least Developed Countries initiative, are all of major concern to textile industry in India to face unprecedented challenges from across the globe. The Indian textile education system has to take a lead and respond to these challenges in an effective manner to produce highly competitive human resource by taking strategic steps to improve the quality of education. Most comprehensive and up-to-date modules on all the manufacturing processes, from fiber and yarn manufacturing to fabric formation, wet processing and allied finishing, eco-friendly processes and even apparel manufacturing have to be developed and included in the course curriculum in the universities and educational institution with state-of-the-art learning facilities. Courses are to be more practical, need based and research oriented. A process management approach for continual improvement of performance can only be achieved through disciplined design and proper execution of institutions end to end activities. The organizations who deliver textile education to the students are necessary to be managed in such a way that persons work in teams not individuals, compensations will be linked to results, not activities and seniority, and senior people become coaches not superiors. There is also the necessity that culture of the institute caters to accountability and collective responsibility. ISO 9001:2000 series of standards provide an appropriate base for establishing such Quality Management System. Once a quality management system is in place, that ascertains the quality of processes involved in the delivery of education for providing quality output, it has to be continuously improved upon. Thus, teaching-learning process has to be monitored under basic fundamentals of TQM i.e. customer focus, process improvement and total involvement. By providing quality education in textile, as perceived by the students, parents, employers and above all the society in general on a continuous basis an institution can become a TQM institution. For textile education to be useful for 21st century requirements, technical institutions have to take appropriate measures in propagating quality consciousness, optimization of resources to manage the competitive environment and encourage team spirit among all concerned.

In view of the above, the various aspects of quality management system covered under ISO 9001:2000 to propagate effective textile education have been discussed. The significance of Total Quality Management in assuring the quality of education on a continuous basis to the prospective customers is taken into consideration. Various strategies for affecting quality improvement in textile education are also discussed.


2. Quality Management System Approach

2.1 ISO 9001:2000

Quality in technical education has become a decisive factor in the new millennium in attracting students and faculty to an institution. Various techniques of quality improvement are being tried and tested. Among which ISO 9001:2000 standards are generic in nature, flexible, and capable of transforming into different operational requirements as required. Successful organizations believe that ISO 9000 standard should be used to increase the consistency of product quality and serve as a foundation for systematic management. In recent years textile educational institutions are in the process of adopting it due to its various inherent advantages such as assurance of opportunity and environment for quality education, identifying and resolving non conformance with standards preventing their recurrence, creation of quality awareness among all staffs, documentation of processes and procedures to train and improvement of their performance, installation of a cost-effective quality management system and to achieve recognition that inculcate positive image with greater acceptability. However, some of the demerits associated with it include lack of top management support and commitment, lack of understanding the system, constraints of resources such as manpower, time, money etc., lack of training and education of employees, misinterpretation of ISO 9000s requirements, excessive documentation and control and underestimation of the efforts and resources needed in certification.

It is well known that ISO 9000 series standards has been developed on Demings Plan-Do-Check-Act continuous improvement cycle based on the following set of principles: customer focus, leadership, involvement of people, process approach, systems approach to management, continual improvement, factual approach to decision making, mutually beneficial supplier relationship.

In order to implement the QMS systems, several steps which are to be taken by a textile educational institute are enumerated as follows: deciding the scope of QMS, identification of MR and the core team members, training and awareness programs, formulation of quality policy, setting quality objectives, identification of QMS processes, mapping the identified processes, preparing the manuals, implementing the system, creating awareness in all other people, planning and conducting regular audits, planning for continual improvement.

Out of which framing the quality policy is the foremost responsibility of the top management as it reflects their vision and the direction in which the institution moves. Thus quality policy should be comprised of the followings essentials: inculcating ethical values in students and stressing on all round development, exposing them to latest technologies in textiles with impetus on fundamental and need based industrial research, promoting harmonious working culture among staff, in addition to the basic requirement of transfer of knowledge through a well planned curriculum.

Quality objectives are the mechanism by which top management has to implement the quality policy. Total involvement and commitment from many people at various levels are necessary leading to good performance of a textile educational organization.

Identifying and mapping the processes are to be identified and the desired ways of performing various activities have to be noted. Some of the typical processes in this category are processes or documentation needed by the standard e.g. management review, core processes e.g. course planning and delivery, support processes e.g. library and management processes e.g. budget and purchase.

In implementing the system, top management of the institution plays an important role. Every individuals contribution to the system and in turn to the institution is vital. As a result, work culture becomes very transparent at all levels and departments work in close association with one another to bring in synergy.

Once QMS is in place in a textile educational institute it should be open for measurement, monitoring and continual improvement to find out the effectiveness of the system. Regular, preplanned audits performed by trained auditors, assess effectively the students feedback, employers feedback, alumni feedback and parents feedback. Outcome of the audits are thoroughly discussed and if necessary, suitable changes are to be incorporated in the QMS and / or in the working culture of the people in the institution.


3. Total Quality Management in Teaching-Learning Process

In the previous section it has been discussed that improvement of performance in textile education can be successfully achieved by adopting quality management systems like ISO 9000. Implementation on such system is a proof of the institutions commitment to quality. Such initiatives have further driven institutions towards improving the quality by integrating all functions, processes and personnel on a continuous basis. This is simply because textile education is a continuous teaching-learning process with lot of innovations, change and developments. Thus TQM is very relevant for textile education due to the fact that quality improvement in any educational institute is a continuous process.

Textile education is a service oriented industry wherein service is delivered at a cost in Textile Institutions. Success of such organizations arguably has two primary objectives i.e. performance excellence and customer delight. While performance excellence means to produce excellent graduates by imparting high quality education, customer delight indicates to provide a student not only with education, but helping him/her to be shaped into a complete individual to face the competitive world in textile.

Teaching Learning mechanism valued its various customers in the process of education and three of such categories are described below. A typical model of such system is indicated in Figure 1.

Figure 1. A typical model of teaching learning process in textile education

Directs Customers are obviously the students. Raw and unprocessed skills are processed by the teachers in an intimate, cordial and strong human relation of teaching-learning process to produce outputs i.e. skilled and educated textile graduates. Teachers manage, facilitate and work continuously to induce an urge to learn, imparting knowledge and developing right attitude of students which ultimately means shaping a mind as per set objectives. This transformation requires support from several resources other than teachers like supporting staff, department, library, laboratories and other infrastructure facilities that support this process.

The second type of customer may be called as Indirect Customer. i.e. parents. Successful student in textile education is prepared not only by the sole effort of teachers but also by the guidance and encouragement of the parents at the crucial part of life of their son/daughter. Parents educate their children in the field of discipline, behavioural aspect, attitude development and ethics in life apart from providing the adequate finance for their study and day-to-day life. Thus involvement of the indirect customers in this service industry is of paramount importance.

Third type of customers is the employers who are finally utilizing the service of the textile graduates and may be designated as Ultimate Customers. Depending upon the skill and aptitude they select the students to manage their organizations. Thus the success of textile education is dependent finally upon the employment opportunities given by the employers.


4. Strategies for Quality Improvement in Textile Education

In the previous chapters quality management system which is relevant to achieve excellence in textile education and its continuous improvement by adoption of TQM have been discussed. There is no doubt that in view of the fast changing global scenario and rapid technological advancement in textiles, quality of education needs to be improved to match with the international level and to ensure the development of technically competitive human resources. Some of the measures which can be taken in this regard but are not limited to the following : curriculum development in emerging technologies, faculty development, modernization of infrastructural facilities, better utilization of the infrastructural facilities, enhanced exposure of students to industries, building the feedback mechanisms in education system, greater autonomy to technical institutes, fostering/promotion of research aptitude in students, network between institutions, institute-industry interaction, accreditation of institutions, resource mobilization and continuing education programs.

Curriculum development in emerging technologies

Textiles education system has so far offered stereo type courses which has lost its relevance at par with the global requirements. In order to keep pace with the changing practices, textile based institutions must design curriculum based on the emerging technologies such as nano-textiles, non-wovens, medical textiles, moisture management, protective clothing, different functional finishes, eco-friendly processes etc. in relevance to the rapidly changing needs of the nation.

4.2 Faculty development

There is the requirement of technically competent human resource with high knowledge and skill base to maintain high quality and productivity at the scale of world standard for developing and maintaining excellence of faculty for sustained growth of technical education. Periodic exposure to industry, participation in training programs, refresher courses, workshops and symposiums, facilitation to undertake research projects, fellowships, QIP programs in I.I.T. Delhi, participation in the faculty exchange programs in collaboration with the best national and international counterparts, inducting competent persons of repute from industry as visiting professors etc. are some of the key strategies for faculty development. Initial screening of faculty at the entry level in technical colleges and institutions as well as periodic review of individual performance is important aspect which can not be ignored. Improper monitoring may have an impact on the teaching and learning process. Above measures will definitely contribute towards sustained growth of the textile institute and imparting quality technical education to the students to compete in the global textile arena.

4.3 Modernization of infrastructural facilities

The infrastructural facilities in textile institutions need to be upgraded through coordinated and concentrated efforts. Steps should be taken to strengthen and create facilities in the areas of emerging technologies and new specialized fields such as non-wovens, eco-friendly processing, nano-technology, moisture management and functional finishes etc. Institutes should undertake consultancy projects from the industry and impart specialized training programs for professional engineers leading to resource generation for sustained growth of the institutions and improved reputation. Textile institutes should make best efforts for development of the appropriate infrastructure through various AICTE research and development schemes. This will facilitate to strengthen research and technology base for effective and meaningful research capabilities and interaction with industries.

4.4 Better utilization of infrastructural facilities

Infrastructural facilities in the textile institutes can be better utilized by organizing the part time courses for the faculty from neighboring institutions, employed engineers and other technical staff. Part time courses may include post graduation studies, and short term refresher and orientation courses for the faculty. However, for the engineers, the education of relevant and state-of-the-art management practices and training on specialized systems leading to capability enhancement of technical manpower can be included.


4.5 Enhanced exposure of students to industries

Inadequate industrial exposure to the students affects their ability to effectively deal with the real life industrial problems. This leads to unsatisfactory performance in professional careers. Thus, students must spend at least one full semester in industry to understand the industrial environments and prevailing practices during the project work under the supervision of capable persons. Development of required skills to understand the industrial problems and the tools and methodologies to solve those problems are the resultant gain in this process.

4.6 Building the feedback mechanisms in education system

In order to affect quality improvements in textile education adequate feedback mechanism from all quarters are to be gathered and critically analyzed. Thus, effectiveness of the quality of the technical education system can be judged from student reaction survey, frequent feedback from faculty and administrative staff, feedback from industry at the time of placement and after absorption, and also the response from the alumni regarding inadequacies of various programs. Deficiencies in the delivery system can be corrected towards quantum improvements in the textile education system.

4.7 Greater autonomy to technical institutes

In response to the changing trend of the industry and emerging needs of the societies, there is the requirement of flexible management systems and practices. Enhanced autonomy in various dimensions such as academic, administrative, and financial would definitely provide an opportunity to the textile institutes the means for providing industry linkages through various consultancy projects and designing of specialized training programs depending upon the requirements of the industry.

4.8 Fostering/Promotion of research aptitude in students

Lack of research interest in our textile students has resulted in depriving the country on the front of technology competitiveness and global sustainability. There is emergent need of revitalizing the textile education system for promoting research interest in students to build up competent technical human resource and research team matching with best in the world that can be capable of leading Indias sustainability and technology competency efforts. In order to activate such rhythm, quality of student at the entry level has to be given importance and appropriate screening mechanism can be incorporated at the technical colleges.

4.9 Networking between institutions

Quality in the textile education can be improved by establishing the synergic networks between the leading technical institutions of excellence and the developing institutions. The growing institutions can be benefited by the exposure to the latest technologies to affect improvement in the skills and knowledge base of their faculty and technicians in improved delivery of technical education.

4.10 Institute-industry interaction

Leading textile institutions and the industrial sector can collaborate in the joint projects for the development of emerging technologies of mutual interest. Major thrust areas can be identified by a Technology Upgradation Group involving leading academicians from technical institutions, eminent technologists from reputed industries and talented scientists from textile research associations in the country. Such an effort will surely lead to the development of state-of-the-art technologies pertaining to the industrial sector and promote the collaboration between institutes and industries.

4.11 Accreditation of institutions

Accreditation is the mark of the quality of technical education. Through this process an institute is evaluated by technical bodies such as NBA and grades are awarded depending upon the performance in different aspects. The accredited institutions are to be eligible to receive research grants in various funding programs. Marketability of a textile institution is often affected by the accreditation.


4.12 Resource mobilization

Technical education has become costly in recent years. Thus additional resources are to be mobilized. Technical education sector needs to adopt proactive initiatives to become self-reliant for its survival and continued upgradation for sustained institutional capability. This is been achieved through measures like increase in fees, augmentation of resources and by effective relationships with industry.

4.13 Continuing education programs

Textile institutions should concentrate imparting quality education not only to the undergraduate and post-graduate students but also to faculty in developing institutions and technical persons working in the industry. Customized continuing education programs can be formulated on the latest technologies, concepts and practices to improve the quality of education through effective dissemination of knowledge and expertise by involving expert faculty and industry professionals.

5. Concluding Remarks

Textile educational institutes are entrusted with the responsibility of producing technological manpower of excellent quality in relevance to the requirement of industry and society. Textile market dynamics has changed over the recent years and it has an impact on the education and training system as well. Improvement in the quality of education can be effectively executed by adopting certain standards for quality certification. ISO 9001:2000 is such a standard to establish QMS in textile education. Once the system is established, quality of textile education can be maintained and improved upon on a continuous basis by integrating through the TQM management process. In the current fast changing global scenario in textile and apparel market, there is no other alternatives but to improve the quality of education, training and consultancy services by taking into account various strategies to reach the world class excellence and total customer satisfaction.

About the Authors:

The authors are associated with Consumer Testing Laboratories (India) Limited, Inc., Bangalore & Government College of Engineering and Textile Technology, respectively.

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