New Constellations in European Research and Higher Education Governance
New Horizons in European Politics series
Edited by Meng-Hsuan Chou and Åse Gornitzka
Chapter 8: 'Quality agencies': the development of regulating and mediating organizations in Scandinavian higher education
'Cognitive capitalism' has been introduced to characterize societies in which innovation and the accumulation of knowledge constitute the central economic force (Hostaker and Vabo 2005). In the context of cognitive capitalism strategies, Europeanization and globalization, Scandinavian higher education in the last decades has increasingly turned into a commodity and higher educational institutions into companies competing to attract students and staff nationally as well as internationally. At the European level, the Bologna Process aims at increasing student mobility and making higher education comparable across national borders. At national levels higher educational reforms based on new public management are implemented. Focus on leadership is increased and result-based funding systems further developed. An interesting question is how the Scandinavian higher education systems have responded to these multiple ideas and tensions as marketization challenges classical academic values as well as the Scandinavian tradition of regarding education as a free welfare state right. As in other areas the increasing marketization has brought along requests for quality assurance, transparency and new forms of regulation. And requests are brought forward both in the Bologna Process and at national political agendas. To meet these requests quality agencies, defined as agencies being responsible for quality assurance, have been established. In some cases existing regulatory agencies have been reformed, in others new agencies have been established. Quality agencies have developed international networks which have become places for discussion and development of quality assurance methodologies and policies.
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