Challenging professional control? Reforming higher education through stakeholder involvement
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionNordberg T, Alm Andreassen T. Challenging professional control? Reforming higher education through stakeholder involvement. Journal of Education and Work. 2020;33(2):169-183 https://doi.org/10.1080/13639080.2020.1737659
This article explores the degree of professional control over a profession’s knowledge base and the extent to which this control, and the knowledge base itself, are challenged by various stakeholders’ agendas when public authorities allow societal stakeholders to influence education programmes. The analysis is based on a politically-initiated education reform process in Norway, RETHOS. RETHOS was motivated by concerns that the education system was failing to properly meet either the competency needs of health and welfare services or the need of users for high-quality services. Societal stakeholders were involved in formulating the new national curricula for health and welfare educations and a subsequent public consultation process. The data material comprises the proposed and final national curricula for nursing and social work, and written submissions in the consultation process. Our analysis shows that while different stakeholders approached the issue from different perspectives, the competencies they want newly-educated professionals to possess overlap. While the reform could have allowed the imposition of organisational dominance, organisational perspectives and agendas were seldom present, in either versions of the national curricula or in the public consultation process. The article’s main finding is that rather than eroding professional control, the process preserved this control.