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Linda Wedlin and Tina Hedmo

A central element in the contemporary landscape of European science is the explicit and elaborate rhetoric centered on excellence and quality. In this chapter, we explore the role of this policy rhetoric, and the general discourse on excellence and quality, in shaping a European governance field for higher education and research. How and why have European systems of assessment and evaluation of quality and excellence developed, and what does that development mean? We explore the role of new systems and actors at the European level by analysing two parallel developments in higher education and in research respectively. We analyse, first, the development of the European Quality Assurance Register, EQAR, which is a register of national accreditation agencies that comply with a set of European standards for quality assurance practice, and second, the establishment of the European Research Council and how they shape notions of excellence at the European level. These examples highlight how transnational systems of governance have developed gradually over time, and how new organizations are beginning to populate the academic landscape and gain authority to establish criteria and set standards for what constitutes quality and excellence in this field. As such, these organizations have a significant impact on the organizational architectonic of the scientific field.

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Tina Hedmo and Linda Wedlin