In Europe it has become a common target of the Bologna Process to require students to participate in quality assurance activities, and several organizations have monitored and reported on the degree of attainment achieved by each signatory country. However, these types of reports have focused mainly on external student participation, whereby students engaged in national or international level quality assurance activities outside a campus. Also, the reports tend to emphasize whether or not a country accomplished the criteria, and what is rarely revealed is what methods countries used to implement the internal student participation activities that were linked to external student participation and quality assurance, within an institution.
In this paper, attention has been focused on internal student participation, whereby students engaged in various spheres of university governance. Norway was selected as test case because the country has long tradition of student participation and is reported to be one of the most advanced countries in the Bologna Process, as regards student participation in quality assurance.
The composition of this paper is as follows: first, the background and a brief history of student participation is presented, including a discussion of the University Act of Norway, which requires student participation in university governance. Next, the University of Oslo (the flagship university in Norway) provides a case study for examining the structure of university-level and faculty-level student participation.
Then, the results of a survey, conducted in the University of Oslo in 2009, are presented. In the questionnaire there were eight questions, the first two of which are discussed in this paper: Q1 – 'What kinds of problems exist in the current system of student participation at the University of Oslo?'; Q2 – 'What kind of new measures would you like to see put in place?' The open-ended answers to questions one and two were analyzed using a qualitative data analysis software. The results from answers to Q1 indicated that, in decreasing order: the participation and interest of students was quite low; the system had problems relating to the distribution of information; the system was not well known among the students generally, etc. Also, the answers to Q2 showed the need to: improve the way information was distributed, increase funding, and facilitate communication among members of the university, etc.