Mechanisms and Contexts of Quality Assurance in the Construction of a Gulf Cooperation Council Higher Education Area

  • Clare Walsh

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Education (EdD)


Drawing on realism and critical cultural political economy of education this dissertation attempts to theorise the mechanisms and contexts which frame the development of Arab higher education, with a particular focus on the role of quality assurance networks in the construction of a Gulf Cooperation
Council (GCC) higher education area.
A realist methodology is utilised as a means to explain the phenomena under investigation. Empirically, the research uses a combination of interviews and document analysis to provide a detailed approach to explanation and findings.
The dissertation shows how, within the space occupied by the quality assurance networks, different material and symbolic interests and ideologies interact (Nefissa, 2005). The findings indicate that state approval of non-governmental (NGO) status grants the quality assurance networks legitimacy to operate. Informal political patronage creates the opportunity for state quality assurance agencies to undertake governance roles within the quality assurance networks. These governance relationships support quality assurance networks to function as conduits between the state quality assurance agencies and offer a pathway for agencies to push their agendas which includes an orientation towards bilateral arrangements as a preferred route. GCC intergovernmentalism lends itself to a competitive nationalist view of quality assurance. National competitiveness and power relations between GCC states detracts from convergence as a strategy towards a GCC higher education area.
Date of Award7 May 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SupervisorRoger Dale (Supervisor)

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