13:15 to 15:00
End date
16 May 2019
Seminar Room F, Manor Road Building, Manor Rd, Oxford OX1 3UQ
Thursday, 16 May 2019 - 1:15pm to 3:00pm


Ranking and Regulating: Markets and Hierarchies in the Governance of Higher Education Today

Presentation and Roundtable

Professor Colin Scott, University College Dublin, will present his findings of a comparative study of the regulation of higher education conducted in the early noughties, in which he analysed the contrasting patterns of four modes of oversight based in oversight, competition, mutuality, and contrived randomness.

The study team found very different mixtures of technique across the eight OECD member state countries, leading Prof Scott to consider the questions about variations on regulatory modes applied to higher education in the wake of burgeoning intergovernmental regulation, especially within the EU, the growth of international competition for both students and academic talent, and a remarkable explosion in both the number and salience of higher education rankings emanating from both public and private sources.

This increased importance of oversight and greater competition has been accompanied by greater scepticism about oversight as a mode of control and a continued trend towards decentring the state in regulation.

Professor Scott combines the perspective of the regulatory scholar with the experience of a practitioner in university governance, to ask not only about the changing regulatory landscape, but also about how universities think about and respond to their external environment.

He argues that the increasing trend towards participation in and learning from international networks, both of universities and of regulatory bodies, are in part a response to intergovernmental actions to set higher education norms, but they also permit both regulators and universities to detach themselves, to a degree, from the states within which they are located.

The private international networks have not yet fully emerged as regulators of universities, but it may not be long before universities follow the logic of so many transnational enterprises, facing competitive pressures which cannot be fully regulated nationally, and further shift the emphasis of regulation from national public to transnational private regulation.


Prof. Michael Shattock, UCL Institute of Education

Prof. Roger King, LSE CARR and University of Bath

Professor Nafsika Alexiadou, Umea University, Sweden


*** This event is organized jointly with the Regulation Discussion Group, Centre for Socio-Legal Studies ***

For further information contact: Dr. Bettina Lange ( or Marcus Moore (

Further info about the Regulation Discussion Group: