“Grandiose ideas on competence, professionalization, academization, knowledge economy, knowledge, advanced learning, innovation high quality HE for 50% of all, are difficult to realize in an imperfect world.” A demand for illusions including ‘quality window dressing’, just means a race to the bottom and intensification of zero-sum games, Alvesson argued.
“Grandiosity projects with the ambition to shine in relationship to others often do not lead to much as others have the same ambition. Behind the illusions of a grandiose society and grandiose institutions radiates emptiness triumphant.”
Cross-border quality assurance
After the key note presentation of Mats Alvesson it was quite a challenge for the 400 participants to get the debate on a more positive track. Parallel sessions explored new European developments in quality assurance such as the ongoing revision of the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area (ESG) and the increasing internationalisation of external QA through cross-border reviews by EQAR-registered agencies.
During the paper sessions, which included case studies from different countries and institutions, there was a particular emphasis on the concept of ‘quality culture’ and the importance of attitudes and values.
The final plenary meanwhile was dedicated to the topic of internationalisation as a vehicle for quality. Sijbolt Noorda, President of the Academic Cooperation Association highlighted the challenge posed by the fact that while higher education was becoming increasingly international, many issues such as QA, academic calendars and financing were largely determined at the national level. His presentation underlined the need for inter- and supra-national values and highlighted the potential of joint degrees.