Qian Jiang

Research title: Higher education accountability and student voice

Research Summary

My study foci are to investigate accountability and student voice in higher education, alongside discussions within the broader concept—accountability. The current quality discourse is shaped by prevailing political and economic backdrops, including New Public Management, Marketisation, and Neoliberalism, etc. With these external motives, quality assurance in HE is blamed for insufficient caring for quality improvements, but only of tokenism, characterising pre-determined objectives, foreseeable outputs, and given results decided in advance. Accordingly, student voice in such a scenario has been strongly critiqued as only an instrumentalist technique. Although considerable studies have been conducted to seek approaches for promoting quality assurance mechanisms and facilitating student engagement in quality assurance activities, the reaches and limits of student voice and to what extent are HEIs accountable to students remain under-explored.

Moreover, many relevant research nowadays end up with implications that could bring about increasing bureaucratic procedures at institutional levels, unconsciously. Also, democratic values embedded in students voice remain insufficient consideration in literature. These are apparent neglections of the overall picture—accountability and its two key components—democracy and bureaucracy.

Based on the aforementioned research gaps, my study will attempt to explore student voice against the backdrop of accountability and students’ perceptions of HE accountability, to hear from students and to hear their real voice about this tangled picture which “fraught with paradoxes” (Morley, 2003, p.48).