Tag: staff

Staff Spotlight: Rachelle Esterhazy

Rachelle Esterhazy

Rachelle Esterhazy (University of Oslo)

Rachelle Esterhazy is a second year PhD candidate at the Department of Education at the University of Oslo. Her research project is about “Feedback practices in higher education” and focuses on the processes that take place when students engage with feedback. She holds a B.Sc in Psychology from the University of Konstanz, Germany and a M.Phil in Higher Education from the University of Oslo. In 2015-2016, Rachelle taught the methods courses in the M.Phil Higher Education program.

What interests you about the field of higher education?

First and foremost I am interested in learning processes of students and how they unfold during their higher education studies. The higher education context is very complex and students are diverse in their pre-knowledge, learning approaches and motivations. This is what makes the learning processes in higher education so fascinating. While the focus of my project is on a very particular part of this learning process, I find it important to keep in mind the big picture and the institutional and sociocultural environment where the learning takes place. This is where I see one of the strengths of the field of higher education, as its small size facilitates the cooperation of people working on different levels of the phenomenon. It is exciting to work with other people coming from all kinds of disciplines, working with all kinds of theories and having all kinds of practical experience and to see how we are all brought together because we share the same interest in higher education.




Seminar Recording on the Academic Profession in Chair and Department Systems

We are delighted to share with you another seminar recording from the research group HEIK (Higher Education: Institutional dynamics and Knowledge cultures). HEIK is a research group located at the Faculty of Educational Sciences in University of Oslo, the coordinating institution of Hedda.

Ester Höhle  (INCHER, University of Kassel)

Ester Höhle
(INCHER Kassel)

This time, we are pleased to feature Ester Höhle (INCHER Kassel, Germany) who gave a presentation titled: “The Academic Profession in Chair and Department Systems. An Empirical Analysis in Eleven European Countries

Listen without the Flashplayer

Abstract for the session: 
In Europe, different higher education systems co-exist simultaneously and make Europe an interesting research target. The focus of this paper is on whether chair systems and department systems as described by Clark (1983), Neave and Rhoades (1987) and Kreckel (2008) go hand in hand with specific patterns of the academic career. This question is treated empirically with the use of survey data from the international EUROAC project, where academics employed at universities were asked about their employment conditions, their career path, time use etc. and is supplemented with information from several country reports. The eleven European countries examined are Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Poland, the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal, Italy, Finland and Norway.

First, the main features of the models are described followed by the categorization of the higher education system in each country in relation to the models. Second, the key features of academic career paths as they are realized in each country are discussed in terms of the predictions by the models. The analysis shows that the organizational structure of either chair or department does have a major impact on individual careers, barriers and chances and supports the description in six of the 11 countries precisely. In the other five countries (Italy, Portugal, Poland, Finland and Norway), however, at least two additional career patterns are observed that consist of a mixture of the predicted patterns. These are not well covered by the scholars’ descriptions and might require more detailed characterizations from current researchers.




Towards more predictable career-paths for young researchers in Germany?

Jens Jungblut  (HEIK/Hedda)

Jens Jungblut
(HEIK/Hedda)

In this post, Hedda’s Jens Jungblut examines a proposal for new career paths for young researchers in German higher education. Jens is working at the University of Oslo where he is writing his doctoral dissertation on the relationship between shifts in governments and changes in higher education policy. 

The German Council for Science and Humanities (Wissenschaftsrat) is the most important advisory body for higher education policy in Germany. They consult both the federal and the Bundesländer governments in questions relating to the structure and development of higher education and research. In their most recent recommendation they address the career paths for young researchers in German higher education, which especially in the phase following the PhD is characterized as very problematic, and they suggest some fundamental reforms.

The problematic situation for young researchers in Germany

In the view of the Wissenschaftsrat, the career paths at German universities can be characterized as very diverse and not transparent, which makes them hard to navigate and communicate especially internationally. At the moment the main professional aim of an academic career in Germany is obtaining a Chair and becoming a professor, as this gives academic independence and a permanent contract. However, going down this road poses a risk for young researchers, as there is only limited data available on the number of applications and the chances of obtaining a professorship. What is known is that the number of temporary positions, especially for young researchers who are working on obtaining a PhD, has increased by 45% between 2000 and 2012. In the same period, the number of professorial positions and other permanent academic positions stayed more ore less stable. This led to a de-coupling of the different career steps and a situation where one is, relatively speaking, less likely to obtain a permanent position in academia.




Call for papers: Workshop on organizing scholarly networks

networkWorking with topics related to academic exchange and research networks? The SRHE supported workshop on “Organizing scholarly networks” will take place on 18th of December 2014 at Department of History and Politics at Brunel University, Uxbridge, UK.

Keynote speakers for the event include Prof Louise Ackers (Salford University) and Dr Heike Jöns (Loughborough University).

The call for papers has been issued and the organisers encourage interdisciplinary contributions from researchers at all career stages.

The organisers have also set some core questions that are of particular interest: When did the idea of international scholarly exchange emerge as a pedagogic concept? What are the nature and long-term consequences of such exchange across borders? Who has benefited from such schemes, and who has been excluded from them? How have these changed over time and what is the relationship between such changes and the organisation of, and policy development associated with, formal exchange programmes?

More information on the workshop theme and focus can be found on the event homepage

To apply to the workshop




Guest blogger: Explaining postdoc internationalization at US universities

Dr. Brendan Cantwell (Michigan State University)

Dr. Brendan Cantwell
(Michigan State University)

This guest entry is written by Dr. Brendan Cantwell who is currently employed as an assistant professor at the Department of Educational Administration at Michigan State University. His current research interests include higher education organization, governance and policy, with focus on comparative education, political economy and theory. 

Since the 1990s over 50% of all postdoctoral researchers (‘postdocs’) working at universities in the United States (US) have been temporary visa holders, or ‘international’. This makes postdocs the most internationalized group at American universities.

The fact that over 50% of postdocs are international is especially striking when compared to student enrollments; international students accounted for only 3.7% of total enrollments in the US during the 2011/2012 academic year. Why, then, do most postdocs come from abroad?

Over parts of the past five years I have studied the employment of international postdocs, primarily in the US but also in the United Kingdom. One of my objectives was to understand why so many researchers work as postdocs abroad. I began this research qualitatively by interviewing international postdocs and their supervisors. I examined the experiences of international postdocs, the role international postdocs play in the production of knowledge, and the process by which postdocs become employed internationally.  From these studies I drew two main conclusions.

first graph

First, international postdoc mobility requires demand for postdocs from aboard, as well as the supply of internationally mobile researchers. Global expansion of higher education, and especially rapid growth of higher education systems in Asia, produced a large supply of PhD researchers looking for jobs abroad. But professors also had to be willing to hire international postdocs. In other words, postdoc mobility would be impossible if there were not individual professors and universities interested in hiring international postdocs.




Guest blogger: Five suggestions about women professors

Prof. Curt Rice  (University of Tromsø)

Prof. Curt Rice
(University of Tromsø)

In this guest entry, professor Curt Rice suggests some concrete measures how to increase the share of female professors. While the post takes a starting point in the Norwegian context, the suggestions are of relevance in a wider scale. Curt Rice is a professor of Language and Linguistics and the Vice President for Research & Development (prorektor for forskning og utvikling) at the University of Tromsø in Norway, as well as leading the board of CRIStin (Current Research Information System in Norway). 

The single most important success factor for increasing gender equality and gender balance in the workplace is engagement from top leadership. Usually, we think of this in terms of the top leadership of an organization, but in Norway we are fortunate to see engagement all the way to the top of the government.

The Prime Minister’s traditional New Year’s Day speech this year began with a lengthy discussion of gender equality, on the occasion of the centennial for women’s suffrage. Jens Stoltenberg’s vision is that “with courageous women as role models, we dare to imagine this ideal: a Norway that is inclusive, safe and with equal rights and opportunities for all.”

Our Minister for Education and Research, Kristin Halvorsen, has recently said that she is increasingly impatient about getting more women professors. Today, Norway has 25% women professors; current calculations suggest that the goal of 40% won’t be reached until 2025.

As I try to imagine how to allay Minister Halvorsen’s impatience — which I share — I realize that there’s some good news but there’s also some bad news.

The bad news is that the political analysis offered by the Minister is incomplete: She notes, quite rightly, that there are many more women taking doctorates now. Therefore, there are many more women qualified for academic positions, she says, but universities are taking too long to move these women forward.

By telling us that we simply need to hurry up, the Minister fails to address the fact that there are structural aspects of academic careers that play themselves out differently for men and women. The career path as it currently runs, is discriminatory. This must be redressed with specific measures. Fortunately, it’s not difficult to identifies ways to improve.

And that’s the good news: The process can be accelerated with interventions by the minister, and here are five suggestions for how:




Gender equality and higher education

pic_womanToday, on 8th of March – International Women’s Day, is perhaps a good time to re-examine the current situation of women in higher education. With decades of focus on emancipation and womens rights in large parts of the Western world – where do we stand on this issue?

Women in higher education and research has received some attention during recent year in Europe. Perhaps the most widely debated recent case is the “Science, its a girl thing!” campaign from the European Commission that received widespread criticisms and arguably did not really further the gender equality agenda, but rather re-emphasized existing stereotypes. A number of initiatives have been emerged in recent years related to women in research, and the topic has also received attention on European level, where the 2nd Gender Summit was held in the end of November.

The question of glass ceilings and speculations around the reasons why women are still underrepresented are still debated (see for instance a guest entry by dr Joanne Pyke on the Hedda blog examining the Australian case), however, recent research by Allison K. Shaw and Daniel E. Stanton  suggest that when analyzing the data over 30 years in the USA, the trend is that the role of gender is diminishing and the issue points lie in the choice of undergraduate field and application rates to tenured jobs There is further research that has suggested that it is not so much discrimination but aspects related to family life that would lead to less women applying for tenure positions.




News: Number of staff members in US higher education stabilizing

NCES (National Center for Education Statistics) ran by the US Department of Education has published a new report on staff conditions (2011) and student financial aid (2010/2011) in the approximately 7400 postsecondary institutions in the US who are part of various federal student financial aid programs.

These institutions employ about 3,9 million people in the US, of whom 1,43 are working on part time basis. Of these 3,9 million, about 1,56 are employed in positions where theyr primary activities are linked to teaching, research and/or public service. According to Inside higher ed who compared the numbers to the stats from 2007, this is a 1.5% increase since 2007, and a smallest yearly increase since 2003.

Public institutions accounted for 2,5 million of the total staff numbers, whereas the whole private for profit sector employs just below 289 000 people, of which 163 thousand are working in academic positions, however, only 40 000 of them have a full time positions. This means that of all the full time staff in these institutions, there is significantly more full time support staff and managerial staff than academic employees. While the overall number of employees has gone down, the number of institutions has increased, and is now almost 3500. At the time when the for profit sector has received major criticisms for their operation earlier this year, this is a worrying tendency. Nevertheless, in the year 2010/2011 these institutions accounted for a relatively small number of all degrees issued: of the 3,55 million degrees on various levels, public institutions issued 2,2 million, and private for profit only approximately 390 000, with the rest coming from private non-profit sector.

The report can be downloaded here.




Free webinar on academic careers – today!

Curt Rice, the Vice President for R&D at Tromsø University in Norway argues that recent research shows that fewer and fewer PhD students aspire to university careers. Is this only the case of few academic career opportunities, or is academia becoming decreasingly attractive place to work for the best graduates?  Curt Rice has conducted research on why young researchers are leaving academia and he will be presenting some of his results at a free webinar today, in addition to answering questions on this and related topics.

The seminar is called: “Skinny dipping with snapping turtles: Careers in academia“. By registering to the event you will be able to listen to the talk, view  the presentation and have the opportunity to ask questions live.

More information on the webinar info page.

The webinar takes place at 19.00 (CET, local time in Norway) today, 23th of May 2012. (Check this time zone converter for calculating this into your local time)

Check out also C. Rice’s personal blog where he shares his ideas about leadership and academia.

(Photo: stock:xchng) 




Guest blogger: Women, choice and promotion – why women are still a minority in the professoriate

 Joanne Pyke

Joanne Pyke, Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Strategic Economic Studies at Victoria University in Australia.

This guest entry is written by Joanne Pyke who is now a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Strategic Economic Studies at Victoria University in Australia. Her PhD thesis explores why women continue to be a minority in senior academic roles in Australian universities despite more than 25 years of equal opportunity policies and legislation. 

Australian higher education is commonly described as ‘feminised’ with overall numbers of both female students and academic staff outnumbering men. At the same time, women remain a minority as senior academics in Australian higher education. In 2009, the national average of female appointments above Level D (Associate Professor) was 26.5% (QUT Equity Services 2011). This is despite the fact that universities have, by and large, complied with Equal Opportunity legislation and have systematically worked towards gender equity in senior academic leadership (Winchester, Chesterman et al. 2005). This has worked to the extent that the gender balance is approaching equal at Level C yet there is a noted trend that women tend to withdraw from seeking promotion just at the point that they have the qualifications and experience to be eligible for promotion to Level D (Probert 2005).

There are many explanations for why women in leadership remain a minority and the broader literature draws attention to the multiple systemic barriers that affect women’s progress in academe. Doughney and Vu (2007) for example, highlights the gendered outcomes of professorial appointments made through external recruitment process – a process that heavily favours men. Others highlight the power of ‘gender inequality practices’ that operate to cancel out the effect of gender equity strategies and make systemic discrimination invisible (van den Brink and Benschop 2012). An alternative explanation, and one that has been influential, comes from human capital theory that explain women’s under-representation as an outcome of ‘choice’. That is that women choose not to pursue senior academic positions in preference to balancing work and other responsibilities, particularly caring for children and families (Hakim 2000).