Have you ever wondered in what ways knowing more about higher education research adds value to working as a practitioner in higher education administration? This entry is written by Elisabeth Josefine Lackner who is a student in the Hedda master programme and at the same time working as an administrative manager at Student Information and Communications Office at the University of Oslo.
What is the added value of added theory on your work? I have asked myself that question many times the last six months, after enrolling into the Higher Education Master Programme at University of Oslo last autumn. And although added theoretical knowledge on the field I work in sometimes frankly complicates my daily doings in the work sphere, it does provide insight, thoughts, opinions and methods that add a valuable X-factor to my work.
And vice versa.
Although it is hard to mentally liberate oneself from the rightfully applied and experience based work sphere, the touch with reality that work experience gives, makes the literature we read, the discussions in class and assignments ever so much more richer and many-faceted.
First and foremost I am a higher education professional. But I write this post as a student of higher education. I have worked within or along the borders of the field since I graduated from university, in both the public and private sectors and presently as a communications manager working centrally at the University of Oslo. Yet, last summer I decided – after long-lasting considerations on what to pursue in a long longed for master’s degree – to add academic knowledge to my professional self and additionally study a field which I have learned is so fascinating and nevertheless vital to individuals and society.
Yet, studying the field within which you work and vice-versa enriches and frankly complicates your daily business and perspectives.
Let’s start with enrichment. After attending lectures and seminars I stroll back to my daily business of meetings, emails and phone calls, presentations, contracts and hiring– normal business in many office jobs. If not the academic knowledge I have achieved through the curriculum can guide me in my daily operative tasks, it does provide a richer and more interesting context for the even work-day. For instance, I do perceive that I am more able to read changes in the applied field through other lenses. For instance, after over six months of studying higher education, it is hard for me not to couple the ongoing present expansion of NOKUT (Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education) with the roll out of New Public Management in Norwegian public sector and higher education field.