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BETWEEN SUPRANATIONAL, NATIONAL AND INSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT OF QUALITY ASSURANCE POLICIES AND PRACTICES IN THE EUROPEAN HIGHER EDUCATION AREA (1999–2019): THE CASE OF SLOVENIA
In 2019, we are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Bologna Process, the largest reform of higher education in Europe, which raised the issue of quality assurance high on the agenda of supranational, national and institutional higher education policies in all Member States of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA). By signing the Bologna Declaration (1999), Slovenia also committed itself to promoting European cooperation in quality assurance, based on the development of comparable criteria and methodology. On the other hand, the country, as a younger EU member state, has also faced some development challenges over the past two decades, which have, in some cases, prevented the effective transfer of supranational commitments in the field quality assurance into its higher education system. On this basis, the contribution raises the question of how did quality assurance processes develop in the European Higher Education Area more generally and in Slovenia more specifically in the last two decades (1999–2019) and what similarities and differences can we identify between the supranational development of this field and national and the institutional responses of the Slovenian higher education system to this development. To this end, this contribution first analyses the development of supranational policies in this field (the Bologna Process, the European Commission etc.) over a selected period of time (1999–2019), which serves as an appropriate starting point for further exploration of the development of national and institutional quality assurance policies and practices in Slovenian higher education. The supranational, national and institutional developments in this field can also be placed in the context of convergence and diversity theories, which can help to address the existing similarities and differences in the 20-year development of quality assurance policies and practices across the wider EHEA and within the Slovenian higher education system. The research results may be perceived as a tool for assessing the current state and the effectiveness of quality assurance policies and practices in higher education in the time of the 20th anniversary of the Bologna Process; as such, they can be of benefit to different stakeholders in the field of higher education, e.g. higher education policy makers, national and institutional quality assurance bodies, institutional leadership and employees, students, and, last but not least, the research community itself.