European Educational Research Journal vol:12 issue:4 pages:514-525
The higher education system in Flanders is characterised by tight regulation and a tradition of excluding private providers from the sector. However, as in other European countries, the Belgian public sector has been confronted with the principles of New Public Management (NPM) and
trends of liberalisation and privatisation. The same goes for the higher education sector where recently a private company has been recognised by the Flemish government as a higher education institution.
This event triggers several questions: what are the consequences when the traditional providers seem to have lost their monopoly? What can this case tell us about the introduction of the principles of NPM in a closed system of higher education? This article comes to the conclusion that private actors still have to move within a framework that is highly conditional and that a closed higher education system can largely remain untouched by a clear-cut, well-defined ‘intrusion’ in the system. On the other hand,
actors become aware that knowledge gaps in the market will be filled in by other providers, if the traditional providers do not react to them adequately themselves, and therefore need to optimise their behaviour in order to meet citizens’ expectations.