Call for papers: various themes related to higher education policy

ICPPThe International Conference on Public Policy will take in Milan from Wednesday, 1st July to Friday, 4th July, 2015. The call for papers has recently been issued.

Deadline for applications – 15th of January 

In total there are 18 various section, including a section for specific topics that also includes education. Here are a number of panels of interest for higher education policy:

T18P27 – Governance of Knowledge Policies (Section 18c – Education)

Chaired by Jens Jungblut, University of Oslo, Department of Education; Meng Hsuan Chou, Nanyang  Technological University; Pauline Ravinet, Université Lille 2. Discussants: Mitchell Young (Charles University), Tim Flink (WZB) and Tatiana Fumasoli (ARENA; Oslo)

The governance of knowledge – generation, organisation, or dissemination – has now permeated all policy levels, from the local, national, regional to the global. These processes, however, are studied across diverse disciplines – science and higher education (policy) studies, international relations, comparative politics, sociology and organisational studies – often disconnected from one another. This is surprising given that there are at least three clear research foci they have in common. At the level of (i) discourse and ideas, attention is paid to whether, how, and why concepts such as excellence, globalism and regionalism, innovation, to name but a few, percolate into daily practices and how they are then weaved into the fabric of policies, organisations or systems. Similarly, these disciplines have in common their interests in how the dynamics of higher education, research and science have impacted (ii) the central organisations, i.e. universities and non-university research institutes, as well as the funding and regulatory agencies. Finally, there is also clear shared research interest in how such dynamics have affected (iii) groups and individuals as members of these organisations, e.g. asking whether and how the normalisation of universities or their global differentiation/isomorphism clash with the normative foundations of science as a profession/vocation or, even earlier, with the hitherto humanistic ideals of ‘socialising’ students by education.

This panel invites researchers from across diverse disciplines to examine the multi-level governance of knowledge policies and politics, focusing on any of the above-mentioned dynamics as well as the role of actors in influencing them. Submitted papers should be clearly linked to one of the three sections – each addressing one of the three research foci identified. All accepted papers must have a clear conceptual approach, preferably supported by empirical examples beyond a single case study.

T02P05 – Patterns and pathways of convergence/divergence in higher education: A comparative perspective (Section 02: Comparative Policy)

Chaired by – Martina Vukasovic, Centre for Higher Education Governance Ghent (CHEGG), Ghent University, and Donald Westerheijden, CHEPS, University of Twente. Discussant: Giliberto Capano

There has been a steadily increasing interest in policy convergence in higher education in the last 15 years. The bulk of these studies originate from Europe, comparing either countries or regions in Europe (e.g. West and East, EU and non-EU), while a much smaller portion focuses on comparisons between Europe and US, on non-European countries or on convergence within countries with more complicated distribution of competence in the area of higher education (e.g. Germany, Spain, UK).

Some studies argue that policies and systems of higher education are becoming more similar over time, while others point towards a complex mixture of patterns of convergence and divergence. Steps have been made towards providing partial explanations of such patterns – a combination of diffusion of global scripts (sometimes promoted by international organizations such as OECD and World Bank), Europeanization, policy transfer and policy learning on ‘the convergence side’ and local translation and editing, path-dependence and complexity of higher education change on ‘the divergence side’. However, what is lacking is (1) a clearer answer to the question ‘what we talk about when we talk about convergence’, and related to it (2) a comprehensive and robust theoretical framework that can be systematically tested.

With this in mind, the panel invites contributions that analyse higher education policy dynamics in a comparative perspective, in Europe as well as beyond. The contributions may focus on one or more parts of the policy process – agenda-setting, decision-making, implementation and evaluation – mirroring the distinction made by Pollitt (2002) between discursive, decisional, practice and results convergence. Other approaches to conceptualizing and operationalizing convergence are welcome, e.g. the distinction between horizontal (sigma) and vertical (delta) policy convergence (Heichel et al., 2005; Heinze & Knill, 2008) may be of interest. With regards to mechanisms leading to a specific pattern of convergence/divergence, the contributions should specify as clearly as possible their theoretical underpinnings and expectations (formulation of explicit propositions/hypotheses is welcome).

T02P08 – Higher Education Policy in Asia: Reform, Outcomes, Equity and Access (Section 02: Comparative Policy)

Chaired by Darryl Jarvis, Hong Kong Institute of Education; Ka Ho Mok, The Hong Kong Institute of Education; Discussants Giliberto Capano

The political economy of Asia has experienced profound change over the last thirty years or so. Much of this transformation, of course, rests in the on-going expansion of Asian economies, deepening economic growth and generally increasing national incomes. Indeed, this transformation has often been enthusiastically celebrated, marking an epochal change in terms of the rise of the East as economies in Asia leap-frog ahead of their developed counterparts. A recent article in the Financial Times (October 8, 2014), for example, reported findings by the International Monetary Fund that in terms of Purchasing Power Parity (PPP), China was now the world’s largest economy, while Indonesia had overtaken the United Kingdom to become the 10th largest economy in the world.

If such absolute epochal transformations are to be believed, commensurate achievements in the development of human capital should also be apparent. Indeed, historically, investment in Asia’s higher education sector was identified as a key driver of the region’s transformation, attracting considerable resources and policy attention. But after thirty years of sustained investment into the sector, what outcomes have resulted? What role has higher education played in supporting economic and social transformation in the region? While participation rates have trended upwards, commensurate increases in higher education institutional quality or global research innovation, impact and leadership still trails in international league tables. The recent UNESCO report, Higher Education in Asia: Expanding Out, Expanding Up – The Rise of Graduate Education and University Research (May, 2014), for example, notes that the research performance and postgraduate educational outcomes in Asia’s higher education sector are not reflected in ‘over all rankings,’ with Asia underrepresented in international league tables such as Academic Ranking of World Universities, QA World Universities Rankings, and the Times Higher Education World University Rankings (pp.65-66).

This panel seeks to examine developments in the higher Education sector in Asia in terms of 1) the achievements of the sector over the last thirty years or so (participation rates – access and equity, resources, research, impact and quality); 2) recent developments in the sector in terms of funding (public versus private), policy innovation, research, internationalization and rankings, and 3) challenges and future prospects for higher education in Asia. Comparative and case study country papers are welcome.

T02P16 – University Rankings for One-World: National Policies of HE Competitiveness (Section 02: Comparative Policy)

Chaired by Almaz Tolymbek, DIU; Discussants Merril, Martha

The panel seeks to attract papers focusing on competitiveness of national HE as an outcome of the respective public policies in one or more than one country, which intend to boost competitive standing of its Higher Education institutions (HEI).

The papers are expected to address the impact by those HE public policies in a country or countries that intend to increase the image and attractiveness of their respective HEI. These individual papers may examine different philosophies, approaches, policy tools and associated issues that emerge with regard to developing and carrying out those policies.

The expected outcome of the panel would be an augmented understanding of which specific policy approaches and instruments work better in growing the “knowledge production and serving” capacity of national HEI. This finding would have with respective implications for policy recommendations to those governments, international organizations, and epistemic communities that are genuinely interested in building sustainable capacity and competitive strength for today’s Universities acting as catalysts of change and intergration in the one-world of today.

T18P28 – Higher Education Governance between Historical Roots and Transnational Convergence Pressures (Section 18c – Education)

Chaired by Michael Dobbins, Goethe University of Frankfurt; Marta Shaw, Jagiellonian University; Discussant: Christoph Knill

Around Europe, higher education systems are currently subject to profound changes. Various socio-economic challenges, in particular the emergence of the knowledge society, demographic developments, sluggish economic growth, and increased competitive pressures, have stimulated an array of reforms to contemporary higher education systems. In view of convergence-promoting processes such as the Bologna Process and the spread of New Public Management, domestic HE institutions are increasingly subject to competing visions of how university systems and institutions of higher education should be governed.

We call for papers which address the tensions between pressures for change and historical legacies in higher education. The panel aims to advance the state of research on higher education governance on three fronts. First, participants are encouraged to develop systematic indicators to measure the degree and direction of policy change, e.g. regarding the institutional balance of power, funding, and personnel matters. For example, to what extent have higher education institutions become “marketized” and in what areas? How does current policy output match up with the historical foundations of higher education systems? Second, the panel aims to isolate factors driving policy change. Moving beyond the conventional assumption that Europeanization is the main catalyst, participants are encouraged to shed light on new underresearched explanatory factors, e.g. the financial crisis, rankings and domestic/international policy borrowing, student activism, or isomorphic pressures from supranational policy agendas. Third, the panel gives participants the opportunity to empirically trace such developments in country comparisons or “crucial case studies”, while focusing on the transformed role of the state and new forms of governmental intervention. Papers shall provide an analytical contribution by developing indicators of policy change, potentially with reference to previous classifications.


Read more on how to submit your paper on the conference website