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Martina Vukasovic

In light of the growing marketization of higher education and the shift towards corporate-pluralist steering, stakeholders are becoming increasingly important for higher education governance. This chapter specifically focuses on stakeholder organizations and their role in politics and policy of higher education. It discusses basic characteristics of stakeholder organizations and offers two conceptualizations: (1) stakeholder organizations as interest groups involved in particular in agenda-setting and policy formation; and (2) stakeholder organizations as epistemic communities conducive of policy learning that can facilitate implementation. Based on general social science insights from organizational sociology, comparative politics and policy analysis, as well as on recent higher education literature, the chapter presents specific aspects of stakeholder organizations that should be in the focus of further research. This includes their membership characteristics, their legitimacy, position in the policy arena, relationship with other stakeholder organizations at the same or other governance levels, and the extent to which they facilitate policy learning across governance levels.

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Jens Jungblut, Bjørn Stensaker and Martina Vukasovic

One of the most long-lived debates within quality assurance is whether and how control and enhancement are related. This is an important debate related to how improved performance and accountability can best be achieved. While this issue has tended to cause heated public debates, there are fewer empirical studies analysing the relationship between these concepts. In the current chapter we investigate the student perceptions of control and enhancement, and ask whether these concepts are mutually exclusive. Based on a survey targeting European students, our findings suggest that ‘quality assurance as control’ and ‘quality assurance as enhancement’ may not be very relevant concepts from a student perspective. Our analysis suggests that students perceive quality in multiple and quite complex ways, and that pure control or improvement understandings of quality are difficult to identify. An implication of these findings is that quality assurance should be designed in ways that take into account the complexity of higher education and its stakeholders. The chapter ends by reflecting upon possible future directions of quality assurance, not least with respect to how the current interest in student-centred teaching carries the potential of transforming the ways in which higher education is evaluated.