CGHE Seminar 15

Rethinking higher education studies: challenges, trends and new directions

  • Thursday, 19 May 2016 12:30 - 14:00
  • Room 828, UCL Institute of Education
  • Ourania Filippakou, University of Hull

Higher education is not a single or unified field of specialised academic study. However, discursively, much of higher education (as an academic subject) has been shaped by the assumption that it should be based on ‘evidence’, should be ‘useful’ and ‘relevant’, and that its academic value is to influence policy. This view – often driven by economics and positivist structural-functionalist sociology – located the field of study of higher education politically, and has been of continuing influence epistemologically; or perhaps more precisely, ideologically.

In my presentation, I will explore how we might think and theorise differently about higher education studies. First, I will analyse some of the powerful sources of the current ‘reading of higher education’, and show how they have framed the agenda of higher education studies. Second, the analysis will locate historically the concept of a ‘deductive rationality’; briefly illustrate its sociological power and legitimation motif; and ask whether and in what ways can or should we define a core intellectual ‘problematique’ of higher education as an academic subject. Finally, I would like to reflect on where the future might lie in relation to this field, what issues might emerge, what kinds of longstanding concerns might be re-examined productively.

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Ourania Filippakou

Ourania Filippakou is a Senior Lecturer in Education at the University of Hull. She has a specific interest in the theoretical condition of ‘higher education’ – with particular reference to comparative historical analysis, a perspective that seeks to combine the methods of history with social science theories and concepts. She is a member of the Council of SRHE, and Visiting Fellow at OxCHEPS, New College, University of Oxford. With Ted Tapper, she is currently writing a book entitled The interaction of system and institutional change in higher education: The political interpretation of the dynamics for change, to be published by Springer.

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