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Title: The idea of the regulator : regulation and recognition of higher education providers in Ireland 1999 - 2012
Author: Ryan, Tara Anne
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2013
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"Studying through" micro-sites of documents, meetings and parliamentary debates, this research makes a contribution to a greater understanding of the policy process from the perspective of an insider. It demonstrates how the policy process informs policy outcomes and influences ideas of the regulator and regulation. Taking paragraphs 25 and 28 of Ireland's 1999 Qualifications (Education and Training) Act, which focus on the recognition of providers of higher education, the methodology of "studying through" leads to particular insights about the exercise of authority and how decisions are made. The juxtaposition of policy as rational choice whose implementation-trajectory can be predicted, with a concept which sees its effects emanating from a flux of micro-accidents of local interests, is false. The study presents a selection of stories where the actions and motivations of the regulator are scrutinized for how they engage with the task of choosing whether an entity might become a registered provider of higher education. The stories reveal the contingencies of events leading to it decision and the absence of any developed idea of both higher education and regulation. They also show a gravitational pull towards rational authoritative choice in policy implementation. A further element revealed is the role of educational imaginaries and shifting patterns of governance and their key respective influences on the regulator and what gets regulated. The historical and conceptual context from which the 1999 idea of a regulator emerged is significant. This analysis is relevant for the policy-worker as well as the reader of policy and higher education regulation literature. The 1999 Act was repealed in 2012 and replaced by the Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) Act 2012. The research findings on the implementation of the 1999 Act which reveal the shifting nature of regulation and authority in higher education are pertinent for policy workers and those with an interest in public policy.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available