Governance of higher education systems

We are interested in how key higher education policy actors develop governance architectures and specific policies and instruments in an increasingly dynamic policy environment. These dynamics play out e.g. with respect to the mix of regulatory and market coordination mechanisms visible in contemporary higher education systems; they also play out at different governance levels: national, regional and supranational. To what extent this mix should be judged as a parsimonious governance effort or a “dangerous cocktail” will be explored by investigating the impact of these governance arrangements on stakeholders in higher education: particularly the higher education institutions, but also their academic staff and students.

Institutional governance

A gradual change is taking place towards seeing higher education institutions as organisations with agency. With the changing, and arguably more volatile and challenging, national and supranational contexts, there appears to be more leeway – although not in every respect – for higher education institutions. In this part of the research project, we try to gain insight in the (strategic) choices made by these institutions to survive, gain legitimacy and position themselves. The above seems to suggest that higher education institutions are homogeneous actors, but we also would like to explore which conditions favour divergence. One strand of the programme also zooms in on the internal dynamics within higher education institutions and revolves around notions of power, decision-making and resistance.

Research on higher education

As the field of higher education research is maturing, it is important to take stock of achievements in our field, as well as critically assess where improvements are called for. We therefore increasingly reflect on the state of the art in specific areas, by literature reviews, critical assessments and future-oriented analyses.