States and Europe and Quality of Higher Education

  • Don F. Westerheijden
Part of the Higher Education Dynamics book series (HEDY, volume 20)

This chapter investigates how quality assurance affected the performance of higher education at the macro, meso, and micro levels. The emphasis will be at the macro and to some extent the meso levels of (collections of) countries and higher education institutions. I shall approach my question first with some theoretical considerations, mainly informed by neoclassical economic theory, broadened to a general theory of (political) behaviour (based on De Vree 1982; Lieshout 1984; Westerheijden 1988) and to some extent by neo-institutional economics (as summarised in Eggertsson 1990). Blackmur gave a more extensive economic perspective on the regulation issue in Chapter 2. The theoretical issue in this partial theory of quality in higher education is what are the interests of actors in quality? The neoclassical theory forcefully underpins the proposition that “what gets measured, gets done”, that is, higher education institutions adapt to their steering environment, leading to different emphases in institutions’ performance depending on the conception-in-use of ‘quality’ held by external actors (quality assurance agencies, ministries, supranational bodies, etc.).


High Education Quality Assurance High Education Institution High Education System External Quality Assessment 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Don F. Westerheijden
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for Higher Education Policy Studies (CHEPS)University of TwenteNetherlands

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