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The Society for Research into Higher Education

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Academia: the beautiful game ?

By Rob Cuthbert

“Some people believe football is a matter of life and death. I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.”

(Bill Shankly, former manager of Liverpool Football Club)

The SRHE 2018 Research Conference in December was full of academics with a passion which Bill Shankly would have recognised. Perhaps not all the kind of people who would have taken their partner on a birthday outing to see Rochdale reserves on a rainy weekday evening, but certainly many of the kind of people who went home from the conference for a Christmas they would fill with reading, writing and reviewing. Academia and football are both common pursuits worldwide; can we make something of the parallels? Continue reading

Paul Ashwin


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Going global – opportunities and challenges for HE researchers

By Paul Ashwin

Globally participation in Higher Education is rising rapidly. UNESCO figures for enrolment in tertiary education show that globally, participation rose from 19% in 2000 to 32% in 2012. It is also increasingly an international phenomenon; for example, the number of students studying abroad more than doubled from 2.1m in 2000 to 4.5m in 2012.

The increasing numbers of students internationally has contributed to greater scrutiny of higher education, as it has become a key focus of national and international policy makers. This scrutiny has led to unparalleled information about HE. This greater information presents higher education researchers with both challenges and possibilities because it both tells us more about higher education whilst also simplifying its complexities.

If we take the quality of higher as an example, the recent Yerevan Communiqué from EU Higher Education Ministers declared that “Enhancing the quality and relevance of teaching and learning is the main mission of the EHEA”. This both elevates the status of teaching and learning whilst also raising pressing questions about how we judge the quality of teaching in higher education.

Positions in national and international higher education league tables have become a dominant way of representing this quality. Their attraction is understandable: Continue reading