Based on a study of Chinese university self-evaluation reports, this paper argues that higher education institutions are trying to manage the tensions between educational and organisational quality and the increasing and worldwide concerns about quality assurance. After 30 years of dramatic educational reform, China has established a nationwide evaluation system for assessing its higher education institutions. This comprehensive system includes a series of procedures for both internal self-evaluation and external peer reviewing, among which self-evaluation reports prepared by each institution remain an important basis for external review. In an attempt to examine the institutional understanding of quality in higher education, the authors conducted a content analysis study of 53 self-evaluation reports written by a wide range of higher education institutions in China. This study concludes that the self-evaluation reports have a greater tendency to demonstrate their organisational quality to the external world than reflecting on the internal teaching and learning quality.