Key information:

Title of the research project Quality assurance of internationalisation and internationalisation of quality assurance in higher education: Slovenia in the comparative perspective of the Western Balkans
Type of the research project Postdoctoral project (basic)
Project code Z5-2658
Project leader Assist. prof. dr. Maruša Hauptman Komotar (51918)
Research organisation Alma Mater Europaea – Faculty of Humanities, Institutum Studiorum Humanitatis, Ljubljana (AMEU – ISH) (0433)

·         Institute for Social Sciences Research (0433-002)

Duration of the research project 1 September 2020 – 31 August 2022
Financial source Slovenian Research Agency (ARRS)

Summary of the research project’s content and objectives:

This postdoctoral project addresses the relationship between internationalisation and quality assurance in higher education in Slovenia and the Western Balkans countries within the two main fields of research: (a) quality assurance of internationalisation and (b) internationalisation of quality assurance in higher education. On this basis, it positions conceptual, developmental, theoretical and methodological aspects of research in the context of Slovenia’s comparison with the Western Balkans countries, and follows the next objectives:

  • to present the prevailing meanings of the relationship between internationalisation and quality assurance in higher education,
  • to evaluate the development and implementation of activities, policies, strategies and other incentives that address, measure and ensure the quality of internationalisation and/or promote the internationalisation of external and internal quality assurance systems at the international level (e.g., in the EHEA) and in the comparative context of Slovenia and the Western Balkans,
  • to identify examples of good and less encouraging practices in this field and to formulate concrete proposals for improving their implementation at the level of higher education institutions, higher education systems and in the broader international context,
  • to explain theoretically the development and implementation of such efforts with concepts of globalisation (regionalisation and Europeanisation) in higher education and in particular with the centre-periphery structure positioned in the framework of world systems theory, dependency theory and neo-colonialism,
  • to use contemporary methodological approaches that go beyond the national dimension as the basic unit of analysis, and to stimulate the discussion on the methodology in comparative higher education studies on this basis,
  • to disseminate research findings in the form of original scientific articles, a monograph chapter and national and international conference presentations and
  • to produce a final report with practical and policy implications to be published on the project’s website.

Based on interviews (with higher education actors, stakeholders and experts) and critical analysis of multiple documentary sources, the project comparatively examines conceptual, developmental, theoretical and methodological challenges that arise in the study of the headline topic. As such, it contributes to the development of science in several ways. Through the comprehensive examination of relationships between the two trends, it improves their existing understandings and offers new possibilities for their investigation at the conceptual and policy level. Through the exploration of the title issue in lesser-known higher education “peripheries”, it bridges the gap that characterises comparative higher education research in favour of more advanced academic “centres” and thus contributes to the development of comparative studies of (European) higher education. Through the consideration of globalisation within the project’s theoretical and methodological framework, it exceeds shortcomings of those comparative attempts that are, in times of globalisation, still confined to the national dimension as the central analytical unit.

Research results will therefore have practical, policy, theoretical and comparative value. They will contribute to the improvement of planning, implementation and evaluation of internationalisation and/or quality assurance policies and practices at micro (institutional), meso (national) and macro (international) level. As such, they will be beneficial to institutional leadership and staff (from international offices, quality assurance departments), authors of strategic and legislative policy documents, staff from national internationalisation or quality assurance agencies, supranational decision-makers and organisations operating in the EHEA and beyond. To comparative researchers in higher education, they will provide them with up-to-date empirical data and interdisciplinary theoretical knowledge and will add a new comparative and theoretical value to the existing research endeavours.