Institute of Education

Research & Expertise to Make a Difference in Education & Beyond

IOE Hosts Vth International Summer School on Higher Education Research

In mid-June 2017, the town of Pushkin near St. Petersburg, Russia welcomed the Fifth International Summer School on Higher Education Research, a joint initiative between the HSE Institute of Education and Peking University’s China Institute for Educational Finance Research. This year, the Summer School focused on higher education and social inequality.

Summer School's Program

List of participants

Faculty presentations

Since their inception in 2013, IOE’s Summer Schools on higher education research have served as a one-of-a-kind international academic venue providing early-career scholars with a dynamic mix of opportunities to learn and network firsthand about today’s most pressing agendas in cross-country university landscapes and their broader linkages to national and global socioeconomic development.

On June 10–16, 2017, the town of Pushkin near St. Petersburg, Russia welcomed the Fifth International Summer School on Higher Education Research, co-run by the HSE Institute of Education and Peking University’s China Institute for Educational Finance Research. Bringing together the world’s most recognized academics and aspiring young scholars, this year’s Summer School aimed to take a multi-prism perspective on various types of inequality in higher education, and the role of higher education in reproducing social inequity.

Recent decades have seen ongoing higher education expansion and growing university participation worldwide, which, however, has so far brought little improvements in social equity. Numerous studies suggest persistent inequalities in access and participation in higher education triggered by a variety of political, social and economic factors. Gains in widening access, especially in systems with high participation rates, are undermined by the increasing stratification of higher education institutions and societies. All of these challenges call for re-thinking, conceptually and socio-politically, the role higher education has in modern society.

Simon Marginson, Professor, Institute of Education, University College London

The Fifth International Summer School organised by HSE was the best that has been held so far. The setting of the Summer School at Pushkin 26 kilometres from St. Petersburg, right next to Catherine’s Park with its magnificent palace and vast and beautiful grounds, is a superb location for philosophical walks, and the School is now attracting an excellent cohort of international participants each year.  Since the first School in 2013 the quality of work has moved from that of a good Master’s seminar to a good doctoral seminar. The theme of the 2017 School, ‘Social Inequality and Higher Education’ attracted a diverse set of interesting contributions. Programmes for widening participation and improving completion by under-represented groups will always be important but the clear message of many papers to the Summer School was that social inequality in higher education cannot be solved within higher education institutions alone. Participants looked beyond the higher education sector to rethink its relationship with society and economy which is where the motors of inequality are found.

As part of the Summer School’s vibrant and far-reaching agenda, the participants addressed such crucial topics as: best-practice approaches to analyzing correlations between educational and social inequality, including from regional, institutional and gender standpoints; the role of different stakeholders in shaping inequalities and stratification; national and institutional roadmaps to addressing inequality; governance, funding & benefits and other models to shape education systems and societies of greater equity and opportunity, etc. (the School faculty’s presentations are available at this link).

Pedro Teixeira, Associate Professor of Economics, University of Porto

The HSE Summer School has built on the experience of previous successful events to be an outstanding scholarly occasion. This year, the discussions focused on a critical topic that has attracted increasing attention among academics, policy-makers, and society at large – that of social inequality and the roles of higher education in it. The lively discussions have highlighted that this is a major topic in many countries from different regions around the world and the role that higher education plays in that respect is very important, but also very complex. The success of the Summer School has benefited from a well-organised and stimulating set of presentations and from a diverse and high quality group of students that engaged in an intense week of lectures, seminars, presentations, and informal discussions. This event has shown how promising and lively has become the field of higher education studies in different parts of the world.

To ensure all the participants would benefit from deeper and more comprehensive academic insights, as well as to facilitate young researchers’ integration into the professional community, the 2017 Summer School featured a host of learning and debate formats, including seminars, discussions of research projects, methodology workshops, and writing academic papers.

The School’ faculty involved a superb cohort of world-renowned authorities on higher education and allied scholarship – yet another confirmation of the event’s growing international recognition as a unique place to provide frontline interdisciplinary exposures to current and prospective academic agendas through a robust synthesis of conceptual and applied policy perspectives. In 2017, the School’s keynote lecturers included: Isak Froumin (Professor, Academic Supervisor, HSE Institute of Education), Simon Marginson (Professor, Director of Centre for Global Higher Education, Institute of Education, University College London), Pedro Teixeira (Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs, Director of the Research Centre on Higher Education Policy (CIPES) and Associate Professor, Faculty of Economics, University of Porto), Jussi Välimaa (Professor, Finnish Institute for Educational Research, University of Jyvaskyla), and Po Yang (Associate Professor, Graduate School of Education, China Institute for Educational Finance Research, Peking University).

Po Yang, Associate Professor, China Institute for Educational Finance Research, Peking University

The Fifth International Summer School organized by IOE proved to be an extraordinary learning experience for both students and faculty. During the one-week exciting yet intensive discussion, students were put in the center of the debate on the complex interaction between higher education expansion and social inequality.  In many occasions, the rationale and the logic behind higher education expansion, affirmative action, and excellence initiative were questioned, debated, and discussed in a wider range of social settings brought about by students from Latin American, mid-European, East and Southern Asian, and North American countries. The moments of enlightenment and the joy of learning were shared in this dynamic academic community, inside and outside the classroom. The summer school has illustrated its potential to become the catalyst of interactive learning experience in higher education.

Over the years, the IOE Summer Schools have seen a steadily growing interest on the part of junior-career researchers from across the globe, with the 2017 event enjoying the widest international student participation to date. This time, the School’s enrollees represented Russia and the CIS, Austria, Germany, the UK, Spain, Hungary, Argentina, Chile, Peru, the USE, India, and China.        

Simona Torotcoi, PhD Student, Central European University, Budapest

It was my pleasure to be part of the V International Summer School on Higher Education Research ‘Higher Education and Social Inequality.’ With the topic addressed representing a rather neglected research area, this summer school once again emphasizes the complexity of links between higher education opportunity, life-paths and implications for social integrity and well-being. I am grateful to everyone for sharing their knowledge and research vision, and especially to the School faculty. I would also like to thank the HSE Institute of Education Russia and the Roma Education Fund’s Scholarship Program for affording me this opportunity to present the article I have co-authored with my fellow at Central European University, entitled ‘Increasing Access to Higher Education and the Reproduction of Social Inequalities: The Case of Roma University Students in Eastern and Southeastern Europe.’


Ewan Wright, PhD Student, University of Hong Kong  

I would honestly say that the summer school was one of my best academic experiences so far.  The opportunity to engage and discuss with leading and emerging scholars in the field of higher education over an intense week was indeed very special. I learnt a lot about what is unique and common to higher education systems in diverse contexts around the world. This will stand me in excellent stead for the next steps of my PhD studies.


Katharina Posch, PhD Student, Vienna University of Economics and Business

Having attended other seminars and summer schools I must admit that I have hardly ever gained so much input elsewhere. For once, it was a very intense course and I talked and listened to both faculty members as well as participants extensively: be it discussions in the seminar room, conversations at coffee breaks or long talks at informal sessions. Because everybody was a researcher in the field of higher education, and most likely working on the issue of social inequality, all presentations and discussions somehow related to my own research and due to the diverse backgrounds of the faculty and participants, coming from diverse disciplines and countries, there were many new perspectives and ideas for me. In addition to these scholarly, content-related inputs, I learnt much about the higher education research community and I could widen my professional network.