Background information

HERE Seminar
Students in focus: Student as partners in higher education governance and quality assurance

5-6 April 2017
Narxoz University
Almaty, Kazakhstan


Students participation is a cornerstone in the Bologna Process and in other national and international reforms strategies. A more active role of students is not only required to shape more student centred learning, but also in higher education governance and quality assurance. In the context of the Bologna Process, student participation is one transversal element of the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area (ESG), agreed by ministers in the EHEA and implemented by all quality assurance agencies. The European Students Union (ESU) is a consultative member in the Bologna Process and part of the authoring team of this document.

Additional pressures for more student participation are also a result of general developments in society and economy, underpinned by technological changes. These changes call for active citizenship and more participatory approaches as well as the need for a proactivce, creative and entrepreneurial workforce.

But how is student participation implemented? It is striking that different higher education systems and institutions define the role of students differently, depending on academic traditions and the general political and social system. Many university governance systems are explicit about the role of students and take concerted measures to ensure their consultation and engagement in course design, student support services, teacher evaluation and internal quality review in general. What is more, student representative bodies are critical stakeholders and partners for institutions and governments and also contribute to national and regional policy. In some countries, student organisations have been in existence for several decades and are active at both, national and international level.

This HERE seminar will examine student participation with regards to governance and quality assurance in different higher education institutions and systems. It will draw from case studies and interesting practices from HERE and EU countries, and provide a forum to debate how student involvement can be advanced.

Learning outcomes

  • Analyse different approaches towards student participation in university governance and QA, and their specific national and regional contexts.
  • Understand the pro’s and con’s  of student participation as well as the implications regarding legal framework, institutional autonomy and organisational and financial implications
  • Reflect on the situation of student participation in your own institution/ system, regarding  achievements and challenges and the potential for enhancement.
  • Relate student participation to the broader context of higher education reform, with regards to good governance at system and institutional level, enhancement of internal and external QA, enhancement of education and promoting democratic society and citizenship. 

Material/ preparation

  • Participants would be invited to provide a short structured essay on the situation of student participation in their country/ institution
  • At the event: Participants would be asked to fill in a short survey with the following question:
    • In order to enhance student participation what has to change at:
      • national level (organisation & legislation)
      • institutional level (organisation & general attitudes)
      • at the level of individual staff
      • students and their formal organisation


The SPHERE Team has selected a few suggestions that should help participants to prepare for the topics which the seminar addresses. Please find bellow a list of suggested documents: 


You can also follow the discussion on this topic by joing the Linkedin group "Quality assurance in European higher education".