Being part of the Faculty of Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences in the University of Twente, CHEPS is very much focusing on the management and governance of higher education systems. What are the ‘best’ governance arrangements, including regulatory frameworks, accountability arrangements and funding mechanisms that contribute to the creation and enhancement of public value in higher education? What policies are effective in helping achieve the objectives for higher education under conditions of rising expectations and increased resource constraints?
In CHEPS’ policy research, many questions related to the state-versus-the-market, autonomy-versus-accountability, professions-versus-organisations. Such questions of coordination, responsibilities and assuring accountability will continue to be relevant. Even more so now that universities need to respond to increasingly heterogeneous demands from stakeholders at the national, local as well as the international level and with the various levels of education and research systems becoming increasingly intertwined. For policy-makers and public managers, some of the biggest issues relate to competition, collaboration, contracting, autonomy, trust, and control.
These are big and abstract issues, but at the same time they directly relate to very concrete and specific themes in higher education, such as
- the quality of teaching and research and how to monitor this;
- the admission and selection of students and who is deciding on this;
- the level and methods of resourcing higher education, including the fees paid by students and which students are getting scholarships and student loans;
- the way governments keep an eye on system performance without having to resort to intrusive forms of audit and control
Over time, CHEPS has accumulated a wide body of expertise on governance in higher education. In the Netherlands it has actively contributed to the development and evaluation of performance contracts as a way to modernize higher education governance. Governance is about getting the incentives right, and designing the higher education policy toolkit in such a way that the higher education system is operating in an efficient and equitable way - ensuring that the graduates and knowledge production are of sufficient quality and relevance. This is a key issue when it comes to securing higher education’s legitimacy with the general public.
Smart governance arrangements are required to ensure smart, innovation-oriented societies. These issues play out on the system (i.e. national, international) level as well as on the level of the individual organisation (i.e. university). It is CHEPS’ ambition to continue feeding the debate among academics and practitioners about designing smart, evidence-based higher education policies.