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Analysing the Higher Education State

Professor Roger King
AcSS, Visiting Professor, Centre for Higher Education Research and Information (CHERI), Open University

Date: 28 February 2006
Time: 1:00pm - 2:30pm
Venue: CARR Seminar Room, H615

The notion of 'the regulatory state' in recent years has been applied to national and trans-national (EU) systems of governance, and also to particular policy domains. The presentation will argue that there are good grounds for referring to a 'higher education regulatory state' - that higher education is not 'exceptional' to other policy domains in this respect - although comparative analysis of specific national higher education systems reveals key variabilities in their regulatory approaches.

The presentation will also refer to the author's recent research on external quality auditors of universities in England and their exercise of 'regulatory intermediation'. Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) auditors, like some other key groups in higher education, look both 'upwards' and 'downwards' in discharging their regulatory responsibilities, and play important parts in regulatory adaptation, flexibility and legitimation.

Finally, using the UK case, and comparing the higher education sector with those for healthcare, legal services and accountancy, the presentation will point to 'the different worlds of the regulatory state', in which markets and regulatory design as policy instruments are applied differently and often diametrically in respective policy sectors, thus weakening claims to national homogeneity in regulatory cultures.

Roger King currently is Visiting Professor at the Centre for Higher Education Research and Information at the Open University. Previously he was Vice Chancellor of the University of Lincoln, and founding Chair of the Institute for Learning and Teaching, established to develop professional standards in university teaching following the 1997 Dearing Report into UK higher education. A political scientist, he published 'The State, Democracy and Globalisation' (with G. Kendall), and 'The University in the Global Age', both with Palgrave Macmillan, in 2004. He is researching and publishing on higher education governance from the perspective of regulatory scholarship and comparative public policy.