Conference review: Only connect – Collaboration, cooperation and capacity building through HE partnerships – EAIR 2016

Isabel Roessler  (CHE)

Dr. Isabel Roessler

In this report, Isabel Roessler writes about the 38th annual EAIR Forum. Isabel works at the German CHE – Centre for Higher Education and focus upon her research on Third Mission, applied research and the reform processes of the HE system.

About 200 participants from all over the world joined the 38th annual EAIR Forum in Birmingham. The conference was organised by the Birmingham City University and took place from the 31 August 2016 to 3 September 2016. This year the tried and trusted remained and a new “idea” stand the test.

The title “Collaboration, Cooperation and Capacity Building through HE partnerships” indicates that the conference deals with the work beyond the traditional boundaries and confines Higher Education. Teaching and research as the traditional missions of universities do not cover the whole spectrum of activities: Higher education institutions cooperate with a diverse range of external partners form outside and inside academia. They cooperate inter-departmental as well as inter-institutional, collaborate with local communities, with industrial and commercial sectors of the economy and organisations like NGO, NPO or foundations. Hence, this conference focused on the partnerships of HEI in and with Higher Education.

As usual the EAIR started with a number of special interest groups on Wednesday: “Impact of Quality insurance”, “Graduate School Management and Accreditation of PhD Programmes”, “Widening Access to Higher Education” and “Student as co-designers: creating contemporary curriculum” and in addition “How to get published”.

In the evening, the opening keynote was about “Students and Serial Killers: The Legacies of Clarice Starling”. No doubt, the conference promised to become special. The keynote of Thursday morning addressed directly the title of the conference: “Partnerships and collaboration – lessons from another setting”. Right after the keynote the sessions started. Plenty of presentations were given in six different tracks. The first track concentrated on “Working in partnerships with students: the importance of experience and engagement”. Familiar the track “Learning and teaching in higher education: the perfect partnership?” Participants with a stronger interest in innovation choose the track “Innovative higher education practice through partnership work”. The other three tracks were about “Emerging quality partnerships”, “Creating impact through higher education research partnerships” and “Higher education governance in an age of collaborative working”. In total 86 presentations and five keynotes. The not yet mentioned keynotes in a nutshell: “Higher education and its stakeholders: Protecting ‘the commons’” (Maarja Beerkens), “Internationalising initial teacher education – A case of partnership working across boarders” (Bärbel Diehr), and “Cultural Intelligence – the next big thing for HE” (Marie Mohan).

EAIR 2014: Higher Education Diversity and Excellence for Society

Maria João Manatos  (ISEG and CIPES, Portugal).

Maria João Manatos
(ISEG and CIPES, Portugal).

This guest entry is written by Maria João Manatos  who is a doctoral research fellow at ISEG and CIPES, Portugal. In this post, she will give her views on the recent 36th EAIR (The European Association for Institutional Research) conference.

The 36th Annual EAIR Forum was held in the University of Duisburg-Essen, so-called open-minded (“Offen im Denken”) university. The theme of the Forum was “Higher Education Diversity and Excellence for Society”. Indeed, diversity is as an appropriate term to describe the EAIR Forum: diversity of people and professional backgrounds, diversity of topics and approaches to higher education research, diversity of experiences. This is a forum where there are not only researchers, students and professors but also members from accreditation agencies and government bodies. In fact, here lays one of the most distinguishable and remarkable characteristics of the EAIR forum: the range of people and the consequent diversity of the debate.

The Eair forum has an exceptional informal and friendly environment. All the people are extremely nice: the members of the EAIR Executive Committee, the keynote speakers, the track chairs, the Forum chairs and all participants in general. Thus, this environment really makes us feel more comfortable and more willing to present, share and discuss ideas. Moreover,  the social activities (the visit to the World Heritage Zollverein Gold Mine and the tour dinner on a boat on the Baldenneysee) were very interesting and enjoyable.

20140830_124904After the first day of Sig Sessions and Opening Plenary, the second day began with Professor Peter Scott, in the first Plenary Keynote Address. On the basis of the Forum motto, he discussed whether higher education markets promote diversity and diversification, or if, on the contrary, they promote conformity. He addressed the complex synergies between pure markets and the higher education context or between marketisation and managerialism. The discussion is always hybrid and complex. Peter Scott had the ingenious ability of raising questions, which make us reflect on the relationship between higher education markets, managerialism and diversification, which are not necessarily connected, as we may argue. In fact, there is a wide range of questions around diversity and its deficits, differentiation and conformity, requiring reflection and discussion: the (im)balance in student population, the (lack of) flexibility in course delivery, the (bias against) vocational subjects. Moreover, the market characteristics often collide with some constraints of higher education: markets promote unfettered costumer service, but students cannot always choose their course or institutions; markets promote effective price management, but fees often do not relate to the costs; there is an open market for new providers, but there are constraints caused by historical advantages and by needs to maintain academics standards. In the end, markets and differentiation no not necessarily go together.

Thematic week: 2013 EAIR conference – Focus on “impact” as a research theme

Lise Degn  (Århus University)

Lise Degn
(Århus University)

This guest entry is written by Lise Degn. She is currently employed as a PhD research fellow at the Department of Political Science and Government – Danish Centre for Studies in Research and Research Policy at Århus University where she researches institutional change in Danish universities. 

In this post, she will give her views on the recent EAIR (The European Association for Institutional Research) conference. It should also be noted that Lise won the best younger researcher paper award at EAIR – congratulations! 

A few weeks ago in late August, the European Higher Education Society held their 35th annual EAIR Forum in Rotterdam, hosted by the Erasmus University. The theme of this year’s Forum was The Impact of Higher education – Addressing the Challenges of the 21st century, and the venue in Rotterdam, promised a festive setting for the EAIR Forum, as the Erasmus University this year celebrates its 100th anniversary, and it was clearly a group of very proud and expectant organizers and hosts that welcomed participants from all over the world on the opening day of the Forum.

The Forum was kicked off with the opening keynote speech by Dr. Sijbolt Noorda, President of the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU) and President of the Academic Cooperation Association (ACA), who discussed how the term Impact had replaced older notions of usefulness, value etc. Noorda highlighted the dangers of adhering to the concept of Impact as opposed to other similar notions by pointing to the connotations of the term, i.e. the powerful linkages to the knowledge economy and labour market terms, as well the stronger emphasis on quantifiable results that usually follow from the concept of impact. The opening keynote neatly introduced the themes that were recurring over the course of the Forum, and set the stage for ongoing debates on how to conceptualize the somewhat ‘fluffy term’ that was the Forum theme, as well as central issues and challenges linked with the increasing use of the term. The other keynote speakers included Prof. Sarah Guri-Rosenblit from the Open University of Israel, Prof. Dr. Ivo Arnold from Erasmus University and Prof. Dr. Simon Buckingham Shum from the Open University.

Call for papers: EAIR 35th Annual forum 2013

The EAIR Forum 2013 Rotterdam Programme Committee invites for paper proposals  for the 35th EAIR Forum, themed “The Impact of Higher Education”.

The Forum will take place from 28th to 31st of August, 2014 at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

Deadline for proposals – 4th of February 2013. 

Proposed thematic tracks include:

  • Track 1: Governance: impact follows strategy?
  • Track 2: Student learning and the student experience
  • Track 3: Institutional research: how to measure impact?
  • Track 4: Quality management in higher education
  • Track 5: Ranking: excellence and reputation management
  • Track 6: Access to higher education
  • Track 7: The impact of higher education on the economy

For more information see the event homepage, and  paper submission guidelines.  

Young higher education researcher? Check out ECHER at EAIR in September!

EAIR (The European Higher Education Society) is this year holding their 34th Annual Forum 5th to 8th of September in Stavanger, Norway. The event will be hosted by University of Stavanger and  it has a title “The Social Contract of Higher Education”. If you are an early career higher education researcher (research career under 10 years), you now have an additional reason to go to Stavanger in September – ECHER is holding its first cooperative event on Wednesday 5 September 2012, time 12:45 – 15:15 with a workshop titled “Introduction to Doing Institutional Research: Young Researchers and the Practice of Institutional Research“.

The workshop is hosted by Dawn Geronimo Terkla (Associate Provost, Office of Institutional Research & Planning, Tufts University, USA), Peter Hoekstra (Director of Institutional Research, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands), and Rachel Sweetman and Christian Schneijderberg  from ECHER. The workshop combines  an  interactive introduction in institutional research and a meeting of early career researchers in the field of HE. Topics listed on the event webpage include:

  • sources of IR, such as the enormous mountains of administrative data, often not been used for research. As Mantz Yorke once wrote: There’s gold in them there hills!
  • techniques of unpacking these databases. How to get them, how to use them.
  • relation to senior HE-management, the sense of timing to have impact
  • ways to present information outside the research arena: bulletins, fact files illustrated with graphs. 

 You can find more information about the registration to the EAIR Forum and deadlines here and on the overall event here