CGHE Annual Conference

CGHE 2019 annual conference: Challenging higher education

  • Wednesday, 03 Apr 2019 09:00 - 17:30
  • Jeffrey Hall, UCL Institute of Education

Registration for the conference will open in January 2019.


2019 Burton R Clark lecture on higher education – University governance and academic work: the business model and its impact on innovation and creativity

Michael Shattock

On a learning curve: new realities for higher education in a changing global context

Marijk van der Wende

“Global higher education” may be a popular concept, but neither a global system of higher education, or global governance has actually emerged. A global quasi market perhaps, but without clear rules or regulator, and vulnerable to new national(istic) politics inhibiting the free movement of students, scholars, data, etc.

Favourable times for internationalisation of HE were characterised by multilateral economic politics, regional integration, the knowledge economy paradigm, and the liberal values of an open society. But in what context do we see our next phase? What will Brexit imply for European cooperation, what will China’s New Silk Road bring to it and how will this affect the role of the US on the global scene?

International cooperation in HE has always been affected by geo-political trends and events – for better or for worse. But how should we deal with the new realities when/if HE and R&D become involved in geo-strategic aims? We’re all on a learning curve. What lessons can be learned from the past?

Transforming university teaching

Paul Ashwin

There are fierce debates about the purpose and quality of university teaching in the UK and internationally. This keynote will examine the two senses of transforming university teaching: how university teaching can be transformational for students and how we might need to transform it for this to happen. Professor Ashwin will argue that the current focus in the UK and internationally on teaching excellence does not provide a supportive context for either of these senses of transformation to be realised. Drawing on a range of evidence, including from CGHE projects, he will set out an alternative vision for university teaching that is centred on the ways in which students are transformed by their engagement with disciplinary and professional knowledge.

Panel on Brexit, UK and worldwide higher education

  • Ellen Hazelkorn (chair), CGHE
  • Vivienne Stern, UUK
  • Ludovic Highman, QS
  • David Palfreyman, University of Oxford
  • Nick Hillman, HEPI

Parallel sessions

Inward international students in China and their implications for global common goods

Lin Tian and Nian Cai Liu

The education for inward international students in China has undergone five major periods in recent decades (1950-2006). China has gradually shifted its role from a traditionally dominant source country of international students to an important study abroad destination for international students. History, motives, developments, and benefits of inward international students are of scholarly interest in China in recent years. Through the lens of (global) common goods, with semi-structured interviews and document analysis, this study explores the perceptions of people who are involved in the education of international students (including government officials, university leaders and academics, as well as international students themselves with different cultural backgrounds) and analyses their relevance to national policies. Findings of this study indicate that international education in China has witnessed considerable progress and changes in the past 17 years, with a striking increase of students from a variety of countries. Key policies related to international students are generally supportive, and global common goods created are evident. Nevertheless, some problems and tensions among policies, practices and (global) common goods are also observed in this study.

What are public goods of Japan’s higher education?

Futao Huang and Kiyomi Horiuchi

The purpose of this presentation is to analyse how the concept of public goods of Japanese higher education is interpreted and understood by Japanese researchers from different perspectives. It is based on a literature review, and also research into how the phrase is viewed by government officials, institutional leaders, deans and professors in different disciplines from two national universities and other stakeholders based on then main findings from semi-structured interviews. The interviews were conducted from August 2017 and will be completed by March 2019. The presentation looks at how the public goods of Japan’s higher education system are different from main Western countries like the United States and the UK, and at the most striking characteristics of public goods of Japan’s higher education.

Recent trends in UK university-industry research cooperation: torn between ‘localisation’ and ‘globalisation’?

Robert Tijssen, Alfredo Yegros and Wouter van de Klippe

Examining the research cooperation patterns between the UK’s largest universities with their business sector partners, this study unfolds the geographical dimension of those partnerships. Recent trends indicate a growing focus among universities on internationalisation and globalisation, to the detriment of localisation and regionalisation. Are universities underperforming in terms of their interactions with local industry, and (expected) contributions to local economic development?

Do you hear what graduates are saying? A study of job searches and career development of Chinese graduates from UK universities

Ka Ho Mok

In recent decades, the UK has witnessed a dramatic increase of Chinese international students of higher education. According to the latest international student statistics in the UK (UKCISA, 2018), the number of Chinese students far exceeds any other nationality, accounting for around one third of non-EU students in the UK. Similarly, in a recent graduate survey of the Chinese returnees graduating from universities in the UK, Mok and his colleagues (2018) found that a majority of Chinese graduates being surveyed shared the view that the international learning experience had positively contributed to their employment opportunities and higher salaries.

Building upon the quantitative study, the research team conducted in-depth interviews with the UK international graduates from mainland China and Taiwan, critically examining how they evaluate how far their UK learning experience affected their early career development. In the in-depth interviews, the Chinese graduates were invited to talk about their own experience of studying in the UK, their career trajectories, earnings and as well as their social mobility. This paper offers first-hand experiences generated from field interviews, reporting the voices of these returnees’ job search and early career development experiences.

Three stories of differentiation and the quest for a balanced higher education system

Vincent Carpentier

The study examines the extent to which the long-term connections and tensions between the processes of expansion and institutional differentiation in higher education might be historically contingent and influenced by the emergence, development and crisis of successive socioeconomic models across history. The historical trajectory of the UK higher education system since the 1960s is explored through the lenses of three interconnected stories of differentiation, through the lenses of structure, mission and social distinction. The empirical dimension of the research compares and contrasts historical data on funding and enrolment for the whole system and its various institutional segments in order to examine the extent to which periods of economic prosperity and crisis might explain the dynamics between funding, expansion and the three dimensions of differentiation. The findings highlight the key influence of the crises of 1973 and 2008 which respectively revealed the exhaustion of the models of the phases of expansion started in the 1960s and the 1990s and the need for a realignment of their structure, mission and social differentiations.

‘First in the family’ university graduates in England

Morag Henderson, Nikki Shure and Anna Adamecz-Volgyi

Many selective universities in the UK use ‘first in family’ as an indicator to widen participation and increase student numbers from non-traditional backgrounds. Yet, no robust evidence exists on who these students are and what kind of decisions they make in applying to and entering university. This paper explores the characteristics of a recent generation of ‘first in the family’ (FiF) university graduates in England using a nationally representative dataset, Next Steps, to provide the first comprehensive, descriptive statistics on this group. We identify the proportion of FiF young people at age 25 as compared to their peers who either match their parents’ education level (either with degree or without degree) or are downwardly mobile, meaning their parent(s) has a university degree, but they do not. Our results show that that 24 per cent of young people aged 25 in 2015 in England are FiF, comprising over two-thirds of all university graduates of this cohort. We compare prior attainment, family background and individual characteristics of these groups, thus painting a detailed picture of these students as well as the university institution selected, subject studied and likelihood of dropping out.

Pulling apart? Demand for cognitive skills and changes in graduate earnings inequality: Evidence from across Europe in the 21st century

Golo Henseke and Francis Green

We analyse how within graduate earning, differentials across occupations have changed with the task content of jobs. Using individual-level income data for 25 European countries covering the years 2004 to 2015 from the European Survey of Income and Living Conditions, we show that graduate earnings continued to grow relatively faster in occupations that were more intensive in abstract tasks, while they shrunk for graduates in occupations that were at greater risk of automation. There is no evidence that earnings further differentiated by occupations’ offshorability or the level of routine work content.

Student loan repayment and the consequences of borrowing among United States college students

Stephen L. DesJardins and KC Deane

The new reality of student loan debt among American college students places an unprecedented financial burden on young adults just beginning their professional careers. Existing academic research reveals that student loan debt negatively affects life events, such as marriage and career choice. Building on the prior literature, our research extends what is known about borrowing and repayment behaviour among college students in the United States. To do so, we use multiple nationally-representative longitudinal datasets and several statistical methods to (1) describe who takes up student loans, (2) detail the challenges borrowers encounter during the loan repayment period, and (3) investigate how borrowing for college affects students’ collegiate and life course outcomes. Our presentation will provide an overview of each of these aspects of our project and also discuss several policy issues of import for researchers and policy makers alike.

Market exit: The implications for public and private higher education in the UK

Stephen Hunt and Vikki Boliver

Market exit is an enduring feature of the private higher education sector, and there is evidence that it is now threatening the public sector where it has been hitherto absent. In a system now heavily reliant on tuition fee loans, uncapping student enrolment has exacerbated problems of recruitment for some providers, especially those of lower prestige or which are geographically isolated, particularly in conditions where the number of 18 year olds is currently in decline. The situation has been further destabilised by a government intent on allowing or even encouraging market exit as a means of increasing the quality and efficiency of providers in general. The research identifies the most vulnerable elements of the HE sector, and, based on data and case studies of the private HE sector, examines the consequences of market exit for students and the mechanisms in place to deal with it. Finally, it looks ahead to possible changes to the HE sector the process of market exit once established might effect, particularly in terms of an increased presence of private HE institutions replacing discontinued public providers. The presentation is specifically intended to allow or encourage questions, issues or problems for participant audience engagement.

A delicate balance: Optimising individual aspirations and institutional missions in higher education

Celia Whitchurch and Giulio Marini

The session will report on a) interviews that took place with 69 respondents in eight case study universities across the UK, and b) a survey questionnaire to academic staff in the case study institutions, to be administered in spring 2018/19. It will demonstrate not only changing patterns of employment, but also ways in which individuals and institutions are managing academic careers in contemporary environments.

More specifically, the paper will describe the emergence of three types of approaches to roles and careers on the part of individuals:

  • Mainstream approaches, in which individuals lay emphasis on formal structures and timelines, focusing on activities deemed to be most valuable.
  • Portfolio approaches, in which individuals cumulatively gather academic and associated experience, internal and external, with the aim of optimising future opportunities in higher education and adjacent fields.
  • Niche approaches, in which individuals prioritise personal values, interests and strengths in carrying out their roles, often with an emphasis on service to students and the community.

The session will at the same time show how individuals and institutions navigate tensions around, for instance, market imperatives and ideals of service, policy requirements and creative endeavour, and the competing demands of teaching, research and related activities, concluding that informal opportunities, relationships and networks appear to be an increasingly significant element in developing roles and careers.

Negotiated local orders: A cross-national comparison of university governance and leadership

Jurgen Enders, Aniko Horvath and Michael Shattock

Much has been written about the ‘managerial turn’ in university governance, the rise of more corporate structures and processes, and related changes in power positions and authority relations. Some attention has also been paid to variations in the adoption and adaptation of the template of the ‘managerial university’ in cross-national perspectives. Our presentation contributes to this literature by focusing on organisational experiences and practices in top-level university governance in a cross-national comparison. We use data gathered within the context of CGHE project 1.4 on the regulatory framing of governance and leadership in England, Scotland, Wales and Germany (e.g. laws, decrees, codes of conduct) and case study data from 8 universities (interviews with leadership, academics and students) on the lived organisational experience in governance and leadership. Our analyses explores the embedded agency in top-level governance within universities as negotiated local orders. Regulatory structures and assumptions about the socially acceptable frame authority relationships while leaving spaces for local interpretations and variation. In turn, authority relations are not fixed but due to ongoing local negotiations that constitute, challenge and eventually change university governance and leadership.


The conference is free and open to all. Registration will open in January 2019.

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