Conference review: first year with ECPR SG on Politics of Higher Education, Research, and Innovation

Earlier this year, the SG on Politics of Higher Education, Research and Innovation was established. Thus, this year marked the first ECPR conference, where the section on knowledge politics was explicitly backed by a standing group. This marks an important milestone for higher education, research and innovation themes at ECPR. Thus, we asked Meng-Hsuan Chou and Mitchell Young – two of the three convenors of the standing group about what they thought about his years section “Politics of Higher Education, Research, and Innovation”, and what their plans are for next year.

How would you characterise the section this year?

Dr. Meng-Hsuan Chou

Dr. Meng-Hsuan Chou (NTU Singapore)

Hsuan: The section is becoming increasingly diverse with more contributions from those who are joining the section for the first time. This is fantastic! The mix of continuity and new additions is very refreshing. I also enjoyed listening to presentations on very contemporary issues (e.g. refugee flows and receptions by universities in Europe); these presentations demonstrate the salience of the research we do in this section.

Mitchell: The section this year had a strong conceptual element, with a number of panels that addressed theory and methodology. At the same time we did not miss out on empirical studies, which covered a wide swath of both the politics of research and higher education.

What was the highlight for you with this years’ section?  (more…)



New open access book: Simon Marginson on the crisis of the California master plan

The California master plan has been an inspiration in the world of higher education. Introduced in the 1960s it market an important milestone in thinking about system coordination in higher education. However – what has happened to the plan since?

clipboard02In a new book, professor Simon Marginson looks into the development of the plan and its spread across the world. Simon Marginson is the Director of the UCL Institute of Education (IOE) Centre for Global Higher Education, and leads CGHE’s global higher education engagement research programme.

Marginson explains his main rationale for the book: “In this book I start from the legacy of Clark Kerr and the 1960 Master Plan for Higher Education in California, noting the strengths and weaknesses of that framework, and then reflect on the spread of the Californian ‘Multiversity’, and the influence of the system model, throughout the world, especially in East Asia“.

In the book, he also takes a more critical stance towards the recent developments in American higher education, as Marginson argues: “The final 40 per cent of the book then attempts to explain the gathering and growing difficulties faced by public higher education in America, in the context of an increasingly unequal economy and society. The conclusion suggests ways forward for the future.

The book is available open access, which is arguably still (too) rare in the field of higher education for books. Marginson explains his rationale for choosing open access: “I am very impressed by the scholarly virtues of open access publishing of a scholarly book, which University of California Press (in line with their own public values which can be traced back to the 1960s) are increasingly using. It’s good to be able to spread the work more widely than with solely purchased books.

Download the book

Marginson, S. (2016) – The Dream is Over: The crisis of Clark Kerr’s California Idea of higher education. Published by University of California Press, download free at doi: http://doi.org/10.1525/luminos.17




Guest blogger: Learning outcomes – between perspectives and practice

Liliana Krstic

Liliana Krstić

Ljiljana Krstić is a recent graduate from the UiO’s Higher Education Master’s Programme. Her prior education includes a degree in the Greek language and literature as well as the human resources management. Main research interests involve organisational change within universities, management and internationalisation of higher education.

The idea to write the thesis about learning outcomes resulted from the article I read on how research has pointed out to the discrepancy between the narrative and actual application of the concept in practice, and how in fact application has turned out to be the slow and difficult (Adam, 2008). In addition, a CEDEFOP study (2012) confirmed that interpretations of the concept vary throughout Europe, and even within individual institution (Dobbins, Brooks, Scott, Rawlinson, Norman, 2014). Research indicates that application of such a broad concept may cause a variety of interpretations, misconceptions and misuses.

In general the problem with the reform rhetoric and changes that follow, are empirically unverified beliefs and assumptions of the reform policies. Some are expected to be adopted even if they lack empirical verification, normative agreement and clear theoretical propositions (Maassen, Olsen, 2007). Learning outcomes exemplify how a policy debate throughout Europe has the tendency to become more similar, despite the different traditions and varieties between the counties, implying the willingness of national actors to follow the new terminological fashion (Teichler, 2004) and to emphasise the “European perspective’.

Therefore I decided to write about perspectives necessary for understanding the concept of learning outcomes and empirically verifying whether some of them are more dominant than the other. Additionally, I wanted to hear the voices of academics and academic leaders as the ultimate recipients of the policy, responsible for its reshaping in practice and enquire about their interpretation of the concept and its embeddeddness within the institutional context of the University of Belgrade. Lastly, I used the data to find patterns in the perceptions of changes which occurred as a result of the application of learning outcomes in practice.

As for the methods of inquiry, University of Belgrade was treated as an embedded single-case study, with three faculties as sub-units integral to the University as a whole. The selection of faculties reflected the classification of disciplines into four broad headings: hard-pure, soft-pure, hard-applied and soft-applied (Becher, 1989; Neumann, Becher, 2002).

Understanding and interpretation of learning outcomes may vary respectively to the perceived learning orientation and purposes of the concept among academic community who assume different functions within the University. Thus, it was essential for the study to explore the perceptions of academics and academic leaders. Empirically, the thesis is built upon twelve in-depth semi-structured interviews and relevant university and legislative documents. The respondents are academics and academic leaders from: soft-pure, hard- pure and hard-applied faculties respectively. (more…)




Call for contributions: next generation insights into internationalization of higher education

Are you a young scholar on higher education and are working on themes related to internationalization?

Douglas Proctor (Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education) and Laura Rumbley (Boston College Center for International Higher Education) have launched a call for chapter proposals for an edited collection focusing on next generation perspectives on the internationalization of higher education. The title for the volume Future Agenda for Internationalization in Higher Education: Next Generation Insights into Research, Policy, and Practice. The book will be part of Routledge’s “Internationalization in Higher Education” series.

internationalisation

The book has an aim to focus on new contexts for internationalization in higher education, new topics of enquiry, and new or innovative modes or methodologies of research, outlined on the webpage as following:

  • New contexts – contexts or environments for internationalization which have not previously been explored in detail
  • New modes – new or alternative methodologies or frames of reference for exploring, understanding and/or researching internationalization
  • New topics – aspects of internationalization and/or international activities which have not previously been explored or have limited exposure in the current discourse.

As the title suggests, the book will also give primacy to next generation perspectives from emerging researchers and analysts. The call for proposals and key timelines are now available online at www.nextgenizn.org. This website also contains background information about the rationales for the book and its structure, as well as bios for the editors.

Proposals are due 30 September 2016. Check the website for the remaining of the timeline.




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. (more…)