Whilst research on policy implementation concludes that ‘the principles of equity and quality have been steadily internalised by institutions’ (CHE 2003a), there has been a great deal of sometimes passionate dissent about how quality improvement should be implemented. In the South African context, stress and anxiety have developed within the higher education sector since the Higher Education Act of 1997. Quality improvement initiatives, like the adoption of ICTs or other systems, often fail for various reasons. Many difficulties arise due to the lack of trust and ownership of the system, which can be addressed by effective training, change management and implementation strategies. We contend that there is an immediate and urgent need for comprehensive quality promotion and capacity development programmes on a voluntary basis to support overburdened and quality-weary South African academics. Such initiatives would empower them to implement and assume responsibility for their own accountable quality assurance practices.