UNIKE fellows and partners represent UNIKE at the HEC 2016

Several members of the UNIKE team participated in the The Higher Education Conference at Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences. Read more about their presentations here.

2016.07.16 | Lisbeth Kristine Walakira

The UNIKE team the the HEC 2016.

António Magalhães as presenter in session:

Papers 1C-5: Internationalization

Bologna and the knowledge triangle: reshaping education and research

António Magalhães, Amélia Veiga

CIPES, Portugal; antonio@cipes.up.pt

To understand whether Bologna made a difference in European higher education, one must look at the dominance of innovation in its articulation with education and research. The achievements within the EHEA are embedded in a process of policy enactment that promoted a shift in the relationships between education, research and innovation in the framework of the development of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA).

In this sense, innovation is reconfiguring the EHEA and shaping mobility and employability as its objectives. Contributing to a comparative approach of higher education policies in Europe, the analysis of the knowledge triangle opens an avenue for research on its effects in moulding the political agendas for education and research.

Read more about the HEC 2016 here.

Pavel Zgaga as discussant in session:

Symposium 1C-8: Using national policy instruments to reduce student drop out and improve completion in higher education in Europe

Using national policy instruments to reduce student drop out and improve completion in higher education in Europe

Chair(s): Hans Vossensteyn (University of Twente)

Discussant(s): Pavel Zgaga (University of Ljubljana)

In 2014-15 the European Commission appointed a pan-European research consortium to explore study success in higher education in Europe. More specifically, the aim was to address the question of how national policy instruments can be used to reduce student drop-out and improve completion. The study consisted of an examination of relevant policy and practice in 35 countries across Europe, drawing on extensive literature and in-depth surveys with higher education experts. Subsequently, eight case studies were undertaken, using interviews with national stakeholders and site visits where interviews and focus groups were conducted with higher education staff and students.

We found that study success is high or very high on the political agenda in 16 countries, while it is of little or no importance in only seven countries. Starting from a theoretical framework, which builds on a review of existing literature, policies were categorised into three main policy areas: funding, organisation of higher education and information/support for students. Policy initiatives were also classified as to whether they were primarily aimed at students or institutions.

This symposium will focus on three major findings, and will link these findings to three of the case study countries – England, the Netherlands and Norway. In each country study success is high on the policy agenda, (although each has its own higher education context and thus there are differences in how study success is defined, communicated and addressed). Crucially, they also each have some evidence about the impact of their policies on study success.

The symposium will open with an introduction to the research study in general, and a short presentation of the theoretical framework developed to categorise the policies. This will be followed by three inter-locking thematic papers. Common to all papers is the focus on the three countries, looking at different aspects of the findings in the project, drawing on similarities and differences between countries in policies and outcomes. The session will conclude with the discussant presenting the lessons from a comparative perspective, and inviting comments from the audience.

4 UNIKE fellows as presenters and 2 UNIKE partners as discussant and Chair:

Symposium 2C-8: Doing Interpretive Comparative Research in Higher Education

Time: Thursday, 14/Jul/2016: 3:30pm - 5:00pm · Location: 02B09

Chair(s): António Magalhães (University of Porto)

Discussant(s): Pavel Zgaga (University of Ljubljana)

In this symposium special focus will be drawn on comparative studies from an interpretive perspective in the field of higher education. Comparison has clear methodological advantages as it has provided a framework to explore issues such as the variations and changes in coordination modes, university governance, and academic profession. Within the field of higher education the dominant paradigm for comparative research draws on quantitative methodology, which is meaningful in mapping the field and showing broader developments.

However, the use of quantitative methodology has led to unwanted consequences as the research results often cross over the line of description and explanation and join the idea of league tables and hierarchies. Välimaa (2008) designates this process of influence as the normative dimension of comparative research.

In order to rebalance the field of comparative higher education research, we suggest the use of an interpretive comparative research design. Hence, this symposium inquires how interpretive comparative research can be used to deepen the understanding of concepts and processes in higher education research. Instead of using units of analysis in an essentialized way and focusing on measurable outputs and dimensions, we explore the ways in which social experiences are created and given meaning (Denzin & Lincoln, 2005). Therefore, we do not compare facts but interpretations of realities. This allows us to interrogate, deconstruct and problematize (Slaughter, 2001) seemingly uncontested concepts and categories. In this respect, this symposium explores interpretations of academics which are situated on the micro level and simultaneously are embedded within the meso and macro level of current governance changes and managerial reforms. We put forward four qualitative studies that integrate the interpretive paradigm with comparison.

The presented cases explore the reconceptualization of the purposes of higher education and the understanding of academic freedom in different national contexts. Comparison is also used to explore how the global spatial hierarchy shapes the international branch campuses and to go beyond numbers when scrutinizing the sources of gender inequalities in academia. Through the presentation of the four qualitative research designs we highlight how interpretive comparison opens up new venues of research both in terms of theory and methodology.

All four studies in this panel work within the overall framework of UNIKE - the EU funded research project Universities in the Knowledge Economy.

Presentations of the Symposium

Widening the Understanding of Academic Freedom by Using an Interpretive Comparative Research Design

Sina Westa

University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Education

With globalisation and internationalisation academic freedom has attracted worldwide attention. It is a core value of universities that is perceived as a condition for pursuing their complex missions. Even if academic freedom is a well-elaborated concept there is still no commonly accepted definition and the meaning of it varies. Hence, it is unclear if there is a common ground to be found in various interpretations of academic freedom.

This study explores how academic freedom is perceived by academics from the University of Bologna and the National University of Singapore. It draws on thematic analysis of semi-structured in-depth interviews to explore its meaning in two historically and culturally different contexts.Overall, this paper shows how an interpretive comparative research design can be used to widen the understanding of academic freedom and to gain a more comprehensive perspective on a concept that is often described as Eurocentric.

Comparison and the Careers of Academic Women, Going beyond the Numbers

Katja Jonsas

University of Roehampton Business School

In recent decades the overall number of women has increased in academia while university governance has been shaped by New Public Management reforms. There are indications that New Public Management enhances inequalities, consequently it should affect academic women. Thus, this paper discusses how an interpretive comparative research design can be used to explore whether and how university governance and gender inequalities are intertwined.

This research draws on qualitative interviews conducted with 25 women working in two Business Schools, one located in Finland (15 interviews) and another in England (10 interviews). Utilizing the notion of career capital, this paper explores how the careers of academic women have unfolded in these two Business Schools. The initial results highlight the importance of social capital either within the Business School or in the disciplinary field. Thus, this paper shows how interpretive comparative research can reveal new venues for gender studies.

Using Interpretive Comparison in Studying the Global Spatial Hierarchy in International Branch Campuses

Jie Gao

Aarhus University

In this paper I investigate how international branch campuses have been mobilized by nation states in positioning themselves in the global knowledge economy. The focus is drawn on how nation states mobilize particular imaginaries of their relative positions within a global hierarchy through their policy frameworks, particularly in the practices of promoting and regulating the initiation and operation of international branch campuses in mainland China. Drawing on the method of “tracing through” from the Anthropology of Policy and data collected through ethnographic fieldwork, I compare different interpretations of global spatial hierarchies enacted by different nation states through their policies and narratives.

Through the interpretive comparison, this research shows how an implicit logic of spatial hierarchy is embedded in the discourses of the global knowledge economy and how countries and regions are imagined to occupy different positions within the same arena of competition.

Recontextualisation of the Purposes of Higher Education within the Context of Governance Changes in Higher Education

Benedikte Custers

University of Porto, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences

Within comparative higher education research different models or ideal types of universities such as the Humboldtian University and the Newmanian University are being identified. Current governance changes convey with them a specific idea of what a research university is or should be. These dominant views shape and reconceptualise these ideal types and the views of academics on the purpose of higher education.

This study draws on discourse theory of Laclau and Mouffe to explore different discourses on the purposes of higher education. Drawing on an interpretative comparative research design, it shows how academics at research universities in New Zealand and the United States describe the purposes of higher education. The paper underlines the discursive struggle between different discourses competing for hegemony and highlights how academics are both influenced by the hegemonic and counter-hegemonic discourses.

Tags: UNIKE, HEC 2016, Higher Education Conference, Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences