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 24: What kind of quality assurance leads to improved performance and accountability? The views of European students

Jens Jungblut, Bjørn Stensaker and Martina Vukasovic

Abstract

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.

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