Quality has clear meanings when associated with specific phenomena. The relative nature of quality in commercial contexts, specifically in relation to manufactured goods, has been studied. In service industries there is no satisfactory indicator of quality. The Likert-scale questionnaire does not allow the researcher to distinguish between spontaneous and constructed responses. The penetration of the premises of human capital theory and services marketing theory in the higher education sector has introduced inapplicable assumptions about and instruments of quality control. A study of one Australian university's re-definition of itself as a market-oriented institution suggests that long-standing criticisms of the use of student questionnaires as a measure of teaching quality are well-founded.