Handbook on the Politics of Higher Education
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Handbook on the Politics of Higher Education

Edited by Brendan Cantwell, Hamish Coates and Roger King

Understanding the politics of Higher Education is becoming more important as the sector is increasingly recognised as a vital source of innovation, skills, economic prosperity, and personal wellbeing. Yet key political differences remain over such issues as who should pay for higher education, how should it be accountable, and how we measure its quality and productivity. Particularly, are states or markets the key in helping to address such matters. The Handbook provides framing perspectives and perspectives, chapters on funding, governance and regulation, and pieces on the political economy of higher education and on the increased role of external stakeholders and indicators.
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Chapter 28: Skills and learning gain(s) in twenty-first-century higher education: politics or policy?

Robert Wagenaar

Abstract

It is widely accepted at present that graduates should not only be knowledgeable but also skilled; that is, to apply the learning they have gained in practice. To define what should be learned, governments all over the world have initiated the development of (inter)national qualifications frameworks. These benchmarks have also been developed at subject area level, resulting from transnational initiatives of higher education (HE) institutions and their academics. Although these instruments offer us clear indicators of what should be learned, they do not tell us how this learning should take place and whether the intended outcomes are achieved. This requires additional political action and the development of further policies in two directions: better infrastructures at HE institutions for staff training, and measurement tools that offer reliable evidence regarding the outcomes of a learning process in a comparative perspective. This chapter outlines what has already been done in the past, and what still has to be done in the future to guarantee that HE contributes to the building of prosperous and sustainable societies.

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