ECER 2014: The past, present and future of educational research in Europe

Ana Sofia Ribeiro dos Santos (Bielefeld Center for Education and Capability Research)

Ana Sofia Ribeiro dos Santos
(Bielefeld Center for Education and Capability Research)

This review is written by Ana Sofia Ribeiro dos Santos. She is a graduate of the Hedda Master programme, and currently undertaking her PhD dissertation research at the Bielefeld Center for Education and Capability Research and Instituto de Ciências Sociais at the University of Lisboa. Her research is undertaken as a part of EduWel, a Marie Curie Initial Training Network funded by the EU. Her dissertation is titled: Mapping vulnerability through a capabilities approach: a biographical study of first generation students in Portuguese Higher Education. 

The European Conference of Educational Researchers (ECER) is easily the largest conference on education in Europe, both by the high number of participants and its comprehensive approach of the educational field. The Conference is an initiative of the European Educational Research Association (EERA), and its 2014 edition gathered in Oporto around 2500 participants, and I was among them. Although the ECER is not a specialised higher education conference, one of its largest networks is the higher education one, and for that reason the ECER has become a relevant meeting point for the field.

This year’s conference theme was “The past, present and future of educational research in Europe”, a self reflexive call for the need to evaluate the field’s evolution and its challenges, that range from budget cuts to interdisciplinarity demands. The theme also celebrated the 20th anniversary of EERA, and to this effect a specific event was held at Casa da Música, where Prof. Lejf Moos, from Aarhus University, delivered the Presidency of the Association to Prof.Theo Wubbles, from the University of Utrecht.

For those who never been to the ECER, I will explain its organisation. The Conference is divided in 2 sections: the Emerging Researchers conference, where PhD candidates present their on-going research projects, and the Main Conference, where the 31 research networks have their presentations, what generally means that there are over 20 parallel sessions from which to choose from! The variety of the sessions in one of the strongest points of the conference, since there are tracks about vocational training, pedagogies, history of education, assessment, ICT in education, you name it. Having said that, researchers interested in higher education can not only follow its track of expertise, but also take a look at other areas and topics that may match their own research. From my own experience, network sessions from Sociology of Education and Policy Studies and Politics of Education were very inspiring, namely a symposium about Early School Leaving in Europe, whose discussant was Roger Dale, from the University of Bristol. This year, the Higher Education Network (Network 22) presented 121 papers, 9 posters, 8 symposia and 1 workshop. The contributions were divided into 5 topics (more…)




EGOS 2014: Reimagining, Rethinking, Reshaping: Organizational Scholarship in Unsettled Times

Maria Pietilä (University of )

Maria Pietilä
(University of Helsinki)

This report of the EGOS Colloquium is written by Maria Pietilä. Maria works at Higher Education Governance and Management group (HEGOM) at the Department of Political and Economic Studies, University of Helsinki. She is working on her dissertation, which deals with academic leadership and governance in Finnish universities, especially related to research work and academic careers.

The 30th annual EGOS Colloquium gathered some 2100 researchers from 53 countries to the city of Rotterdam in the Netherlands. The conference took place in July 3–5, 2014. The atmosphere in Rotterdam was of course especially lively not just because of the conference, but also because of the ongoing FIFA World Cup.

This year’s conference theme was “Reimagining, Rethinking, Reshaping: Organizational Scholarship in Unsettled Times”. EGOS, which is an abbreviation for European Group for Organizational Studies, is a scholarly association mainly for social scientists and business scholars, who have a mutual interest in organizations as study units. A central common denominator is the journal Organization Studies, which is published in collaboration with EGOS. Due to the diversity behind such a scholarly association, also the conference embraced a diversity of themes, perspectives and people from different disciplinary backgrounds. This made the conference a truly interdisciplinary one.

This year’s conference was the first EGOS I attended. The conference was structured so that the opening ceremony and the first keynote were followed by sub-theme sessions. There was yet another keynote on the second day, more sub-theme sessions, and parallel sub-plenaries. The third day ended after some more sub-theme sessions and lunch. The conference was preceded by workshops on academic reviewing, paper development, and early-career issues, but unfortunately I didn’t attend those.

The first keynote speaker was Jerry Davis, Wilbur K. Pierpont Collegiate Professor of Management at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business, University of Michigan. He talked about ‘the coming collapse of the corporation’ and succeeded in stirring at least my imagination. As the title suggests, the keynote was about the changes from a corporate-centered society (characterized by tangible products, concentrated corporate control, etc. such as in traditional manufacturing industry) towards more virtual organizations with more dispersed structures (characterized by complex networks of subscribers and producers worldwide) and the (in many cases detrimental) effects of these changes on employment and value creation at the level of national economies. This made me think where the higher education institutions stand within this development. Of course, there might be multiple answers depending on the context. Overall, it seems that higher education institutions may stand in the more traditional end of the spectrum due to their national ties and connections with national cultures. Still, the ‘virtual models’ of universities, especially related to teaching, point to the evolving, more hybrid models. (more…)




Call for applicants: Assistant/Associate professor on student development/student services

oiseThe Ontario Institue for Studies in Education (OISE) is looking for applicants for a tenure stream appointment at the rank of Assistant or Associate Professor.

The starting time for the contract is 1st of July 2015, and the position is located at the Department of Leadership, Higher and Adult Education.

Applicants are expected to hold a PhD or EdD in Higher Education, Student Development/services or related field (by date of appointment or shortly thereafter) and a record of teaching excellence at the University level. Commitment to educating a diverse student population must be shown, and the candidate must show a potential to develop an excellent scholarly productivity in higher education and student development and services. As such, practical experience with student services/development is considered an asset.

Candidates need to send in a letter of application, up-to-date CV, teaching dossier, a statement of current and future research interests and two recent research publications, as well as three referee letters sent directly to the chair of the department.

Application deadline 1st of November 2014. 

More information about application procedures and the position can be downloaded here (pdf)


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New EUA report on public funding of higher education in Europe published last Friday

EUA Public Funding Observatory online tool

EUA Public Funding Observatory online tool

The European University Association (EUA) has published the 2014 analysis from the Public Funding Observatory. The report examines latest developments (2013-2014) regarding public funding of universities in Europe, as well as devlopments since 2008.

The report is based on data that the EUA has been collecting since 2008, the data is reported by National Rectors Conferences. Currently, the report includes 28 countries/regions in Europe. The report highlights some clear patterns in public funding.

For the most recent developments (2013-2014) data is provided for 19 countries. When corrections for inflation are taken into account, it is about as many countries where funding has been increased (7), than those where it has decreased (8) regarding the latest developments. Another 4 countries experience a stable funding situation (+/- 1%). When the change is adjusted for inflation, two countries show increase over 5% – Poland and Portugal. In both countries, public funding until this year has decreased. In Portugal, this is the first increase since 2010.

The decrease has been more than 10% (after adjustment for inflation) in three countries – Greece, Lithuania and United Kingdom. For Greece this is a rather drastic situation as public funding has been almost halved since 2008. The cuts in UK have not been as drastic, but have also shown a clear downward trend since the peak in 2010. For Lithuania, the funding levels have also been decreasing since 2008, and the cut this year was substantial.

Looking at the overall trends between 2008 and 2014, three countries have experienced an increase of public gunding that is between 20 and 40%, this is Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Furthermore, the countries where the increase has been over 5% include Poland, Austria and the Belgium (French community). (more…)




CHER 2014: Universities in transition – shifting institutional and organizational boundaries

Bojana Culum (University of Rijeka, Croatia)

Dr. Bojana Culum
(University of Rijeka, Croatia)

This review of the recent CHER conference in Rome is written by Bojana Culum, who is employed as an assitant professor at the University of Rijeka in Croatia.  

The 27th CHER (Consortium of Higher Education Researchers) Conference was held in Rome from September 8-10, 2014 and was organized by the Institute for Research on Firm and Growth (CERIS) of the National Research Council (CNR). I would like to thank our colleagues from the conference organizing committee as well as from the local organizing committe for ‘putting out another great show‘.

The day before the conference started was ‘reserved’ for the ECHER social event. Even tough the ECHER’s organizing committee unfortunately did not have the capacity to follow the last year’s workshop mode for early career researchers, our gathering offered us an opportunity to catch up with each one’s changes in life, work and plans for the close future, as well as to laugh and make some (business and pleasure related) plans for the next CHER conference and ECHER edition in Lisbon.

The theme of this year’s CHER conference was “Universities in transition: shifting institutional and organizational boundaries”, which addressed an emerging issue in higher education studies, and was ‘wrapped up’ in four tracks: (I) Changing functions, objectives, and scope of higher education and research institutions, (II) Collaborations across institutional and organizational boundaries, (III) Shifting boundaries in the academic profession and (IV) Core Themes in Higher Education Research. Key topics were about how higher education institutions are shifting or even blurring the existing traditional boundaries and assuming new functions, objectives and scope, and, on the other hand how they are externalizing functions and activities traditionally included in higher education institutions. Research papers focused also on the effects of universities entering new external organizations, or stepping across boundaries of the institution of higher education towards partnerships with non-academic public and/or private partners, as well as the changing relationships between the academics and the market, the shifting boundaries between science and business.

CHER Conference 2014

CHER Conference 2014

Two keynote speakers were invited to provide insights on the theme – Alicia Lam from the Royal Holloway University of London, and John Douglass from the University of Berkeley. They brought different perspectives and approaches related to institutional and organizational boundaries. Prof. Lam presented a recent research on shifting work boundaries and career in university departments, discussing how breaking boundaries emerged and how far the boundaries persist in the academic profession. Prof. Douglass discussed the new approach of Flagship University as an alternative to the World Class University paradigm, which is based on the concept of relevance rather than on the concept of ranking. (more…)