Research Handbook on Quality, Performance and Accountability in Higher Education
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Research Handbook on Quality, Performance and Accountability in Higher Education

Edited by Ellen Hazelkorn, Hamish Coates and Alexander C. McCormick

As higher education becomes a key determinant for economic competitiveness, institutions face increasing pressure to demonstrate their fitness to meet the needs of society and individuals. Blending innovative research with richly contextualised examples this unique Research Handbook provides authoritative insights from around the globe on how best to understand, assess and improve quality, performance and accountability in higher education.
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Chapter 3: Challenges for quality assurance in higher education: the regulatory turn

Roger King


The advance of the quality assurance agency in higher education has appeared remorseless since the early 1990s, reinforced by the international tide of ‘new governance’ that enthused national governments and which was applied across a range of public sectors. This stressed transparency, accountability and value-for-money for taxpayer-funded expenditure. Yet today, such agencies face major challenges, including from alternative assessors and methodologies associated with consumerism, markets and rankings. Additionally, academic research has questioned ‘sanctions-based’ approaches for their ineffectiveness, while governments have queried whether bureaucratic quality monitoring is less effective than well-informed consumer choice and provider competitiveness. Some governments have sought to reduce both regulatory resources and ‘red tape’ evaluation of institutions with the purpose of releasing more entrepreneurialism and innovation in universities and colleges. Risk approaches and an associated regulatory turn in higher education are beginning to transform both quality assessment and quality assurance agencies across a number of higher education sectors.

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