23 SES 06 B, Policies and Practices of Evaluation of Quality in Education (Part 2)
Paper Session continued from 23 SES 05 B
There is a rich body of research on Europeanisation in education governance providing evidence that quality assurance (QA) policies–the external QA regulatory regime (Gornitzka & Stensaker, 2014)–has produced institutional pressure for convergence and uniformity, through for instance practices of diffusion, borrowing, exchange, norm-setting and standardisation by the use of soft governance, in the forms of networks, seminars, reviews and expert groups, etc. (Rosa & Amaral, 2014; Brady & Bates, 2016; Enders & Westerheijden, 2014; Maassen & Stensaker, 2011; Toots & Kalev, 2016). Even if not regulated by formal law, but rather by way of the ’soft’ principle of the Open Method of Coordination (Gornitzka, 2006), external QA ”has developed over the years at the European level, and national agencies and HE sectors have started to develop some basic beliefs about how this activity should be organised or conducted” across national contexts (Stensaker, 2014: 144).
At the same time, the work of the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA) is explicitly based on the principle of ”diversity”. According to the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance (ESG) in the European Higher Education Area 2015, adopted by the Ministers responsible for HE in the European Higher Education Area, the role of QA is to support higher education systems and institutions in responding to changes where they ”become more diverse” (ENQA, 2015: 6).
In Sweden, reforms implemented in 1993 and in 2011 both cherished ideas on organisational diversity. The so called Autonomy reform in 2011 was argued to provide greater autonomy for the Higher Education institutions (HEIs). The national QA system, also from 2011, focussed on quality in terms of results and the question of how to achieve quality became a matter for HEIs to decide. The current national QA system, in operation from 2017 and onwards, takes these ideas of autonomy and diversity one step further, by decentralizing even more responsibility for QA to the HEIs themselves, in line with “fashionable” (Stensaker, 2007) ideas on ”enhancement” (see Saunders, 2014). Under the banner of ”ownership”, the main focus of the 2017 QA system is on the HEI’s internal quality assurance systems (IQAs), that are supposed to be complying with national regulations and to be based on ESG. Following the same ‘diversity rationale’ as for instance the ESG, it is emphasised that ”[t]he design of these systems are decided by each and every university and accordingly they will be able to vary between and within different universities” (Utbildningsdepartementet, 2016:7).
Whether the IQAs actually will be diverse or not however remain to be explored: How Swedish HEIs actually have handled the leeway offered by the international and national levels, along with how local histories, conditions, resources, knowledge, beliefs and discretion frame the work with IQA, has not yet been researched. This paper is an empirical analysis of a selection of IQAs, designed to achieve ‘quality’ in the studied HEIs. Especially, the paper aims at exploring and analysing issues of uniformity and diversity in the dynamics between QA-policy and systems put in place to assure quality in particular HE-contexts.
In order to explore these issues we draw on Harvey and Stensaker (2008) who outline a model based on grid-group theory particularly adapted to analysis of “quality cultures” in HEIs, identifying four ideal typical forms of such quality cultures – responsive, reactive, regenerative and reproductive – which we use as a heuristic device in our empirical exploration. We also draw on institutional theory, in particular with regards to isomorphism and mechanisms through which homogeneity occurs (DiMaggio & Powell, 1983).
Brady, N. & Bates, A. (2016). The standards paradox: How quality assurance regimes can subvert teaching and learning in higher education. European Educational Research Journal, 15(2), 155– 174. DiMaggio, P. J., Powell, W. W. (1983). The Iron Cage Revisited: Institutional Isomorphism and Collective Rationality in Organizational Fields. American Sociological Review, 48(2), 147–160. Enders, J. & Westerheijden, D. F. (2014). Quality assurance in the European policy arena. Policy and Society, 33(3), 167–176. ENQA. (2015). Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area (ESG). Retrieved from http://www.enqa.eu/index.php/home/esg/ Gornitzka, Å. (2006). The Open Method of Coordination as practice - A watershed in European education policy? ARENA working papers no 16. Oslo: ARENA. Gornitzka, Å. & Stensaker, B. (2014). The dynamics of European regulatory regimes in higher education – Challenged prerogatives and evolutionary change. Policy and Society, 33(3), 177–188. Harvey, L., & Stensaker, B. (2008). Quality culture: Understandings, boundaries and linkages. European Journal of Education, 43(4), 427–442. Maassen, P. & Stensaker, B. (2011). The knowledge triangle, European higher education policy logics and policy implications. Higher Education, 61(6), 757–769. Rosa, M. J. & Amaral, A. (eds) (2014). Quality Assurance in Higher Education. Contemporary debates. London: Palgrave. Saunders, M. (2014). Quality Enhancement: An Overview of Lessons from the Scottish Experience. In Rosa, M.J. & Amaral A. (Eds.) Quality Assurance in Higher Education (pp. 117–131). London: Palgrave. Segerholm, C., Lindgren, J., Hult, A., Olofsson, A. & Rönnberg, L. (2016). Enacting a National Reform Interval. Paper presented at ECER, 22-26 August in Dublin, Ireland. Stensaker, B. (2007). Quality as Fashion: Exploring the Translation of a Management Idea into Higher Education. In: Westerheiden et al (Eds.) Quality Assurance in Higher Education (pp. 99–118). Dortrecht: Springer. Stensaker, B. (2014). European Trends in Quality Assurance: New Agendas beyond the Search for Convergence? In Rosa, M. J. & Amaral, A. (eds) (2014). Quality Assurance in Higher Education. Contemporary debates. (pp. 135-145). London: Palgrave. Toots, A. & Kalev, L. (2016). Governing in the shadow of Bologna: return of the state in higher education quality assurance policy. International Journal of Public Policy, 12(1-2), 54–70. Utbildningsdepartementet (2016). Förslag till nytt nationellt kvalitetssystem för högre utbildning. Stockholm: Utbildningsdepartementet. Westerheijden, D. F., Stensaker, B., & Rosa, M. J. (2007). Conclusions and Further Challenges. In: Westerheiden et al (Eds.) Quality Assurance in Higher Education (pp. 247–262). Dortrecht: Springer.
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
Network 2. Vocational Education and Training (VETNET)
Network 3. Curriculum Innovation
Network 4. Inclusive Education
Network 5. Children and Youth at Risk and Urban Education
Network 6. Open Learning: Media, Environments and Cultures
Network 7. Social Justice and Intercultural Education
Network 8. Research on Health Education
Network 9. Assessment, Evaluation, Testing and Measurement
Network 10. Teacher Education Research
Network 11. Educational Effectiveness and Quality Assurance
Network 12. LISnet - Library and Information Science Network
Network 13. Philosophy of Education
Network 14. Communities, Families and Schooling in Educational Research
Network 15. Research Partnerships in Education
Network 16. ICT in Education and Training
Network 17. Histories of Education
Network 18. Research in Sport Pedagogy
Network 19. Ethnography
Network 20. Research in Innovative Intercultural Learning Environments
Network 22. Research in Higher Education
Network 23. Policy Studies and Politics of Education
Network 24. Mathematics Education Research
Network 25. Research on Children's Rights in Education
Network 26. Educational Leadership
Network 27. Didactics – Learning and Teaching
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