The trend in liberal higher education is to afford students enhanced capabilities to intervene in their higher education environments, especially in quality assessment, accountability and performance. This development is premised on acknowledging that students have valuable insights into educational processes. Scholarship based on stakeholder theories explains student involvement in promoting quality through their contribution to the efficiency of decisions regarding quality. Scholarship based on student engagement theories conceives student involvement as part of building inclusive higher education communities and fostering student self-formation. This chapter discusses, first, the areas and pathways for student involvement in promoting quality. Next it addresses both the rationales and student motivations for such involvement. In the conclusion, more controversial questions concerning student participation in quality assessment and improvement are addressed: acceptance of students as ‘peers’, tokenistic involvement of students in decision processes, and the ‘domestication’ of students. Finally, the chapter argues that research has not caught up with the developments in practice. Several questions are identified for future exploration.
This chapter reviews and offers directions for future research on student politics in higher education in different parts of the world. The concept of student politics refers to the activities related to the power relations between students and other social actors in and out the higher education systems; more specifically, it pertains to the relationships between students and university authorities, as well as the interactions between students and state officials. In analyzing the various forms of student politics, we draw the distinction between representation and activism, as two distinct yet interrelated activities. The first pertains to students organizing into representative student associations, such as student governments, graduate student employee unions, party-affiliated student organizations, or other student interest groups. Activism, on the other hand, denotes practices of student collective action through various forms of political engagement, whereby students act in support of or in opposition to a specific cause and/or hold the authority accountable. The analysis is guided by questions on how the various forms of student politics emerge and how they develop their organizational characteristics and their respective strategic repertoires.
Keywords: student politics; student representation; student activism; student governments; graduate student unions; party-affiliated student organizations; student political behavior; college students