Since the research consisted of expert interviews in EU countries and therefore neither contained vulnerable groups nor any potential risk for the researcher or the interviewees, there were no particular ethical concerns. The interviewees had been informed that they would be interviewed in their capacity as experts in the field and had been provided with a description of the project as part of the requesting letter and an abstract of the thesis in advance. They had to sign a consent form (including a brief description of the project) in which they gave their general consent for the interview and could choose between three options regarding consent for direct quotes under their name (consent, consent if seen in context, no consent for direct quotes). Despite most interviewees choosing the second option, it was later decided to keep the interviewees anonymous to avoid any potential confidentiality issues considering that HEIs increasingly compete and may wish to keep a closer lid on any information regarding their research policies.

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