IOE Welcomes Sixth International Summer School on Higher Education Research
On June 9–15, the town of Pushkin near St. Petersburg, Russia hosted IOE’s Sixth International Summer School on Multidisciplinary Higher Education Research. Bringing together a premier cohort of accomplished international academics and bright early-career scholars, the 2018 School aimed to take new and deeper perspectives on how higher education can contribute to positive socio-economic change at all levels.
Held every year since 2013, the Summer School has been recognized as a leading venue for scholars in higher education to engage in vibrant and reinvigorating debate on topics and areas relevant to the modern-day international university research agenda and wider realms.
The School is distinctive in its multidimensional academic focus: students learn about the most important conceptual frameworks in social and political studies, economics, history, etc., while also participating in discussions of individual research projects. Resorting to firsthand multidisciplinary evidence from across the globe enables tracing immediate implications for policy contexts in education and broader socio-economic domains. In featuring this mix of in-depth theoretical insights and hands-on experiences, the Summer School is uniquely placed to advance a more cohesive understanding of higher education, to encourage cross-border academic partnership, and to facilitate the integration of young researchers into the global professional community.
I enjoyed being part of this year’s Summer School, which is set in a gorgeous location near Saint Petersburg. The School has put doctoral students into contact with colleagues from around the world as well as with experts in higher education research. The atmosphere was relaxed, which is perfect for developing networks and collaborations. The high-quality presentations have reaffirmed how broad the subject topic is and have featured a variety of potential contributions everyone can provide.
This year, the Summer School’s agenda was centered upon the social and economic contribution of higher education. In today’s fast-paced economy of knowledge and multilateral networking, the systems of higher education are increasingly expected to become more of a linchpin in spurring economic growth and promoting social wellbeing. While recent policies and public discourse have tended to emphasize the economic role of HEIs, these assumptions and heightened expectations have so far largely failed to stand up to scholarly scrutiny. Research has suggested that higher education cannot propel economic growth, cannot operate as a classical (quasi-) market, nor can it ensure good graduate jobs. That said, higher education still does largely protect graduates from unemployment, in many cases still brings some wage premium, fosters mobility, encourages internationalization, and helps make a difference in the lives of individuals and communities. It is therefore an important imperative for scholars to come and re-think how higher education systems can contribute to socio-economic development under modern conditions, in order to provide a more conclusive and accurate basis for further public discussion and policymaking.
As part of the School’s multiple learning and networking formats, including workshops, project presentations, panel sessions, informal discussions for expert feedback, etc., participants touched on a range of issues under the above topic. More specifically, debate has covered the key conceptual approaches in the subject field (higher education and economic growth, human capital theory, employability, regional development, higher education and the social structure of society, social and geographical mobility, higher education as self-formation, etc.); how higher education contributes to social integrity and wellbeing; the roles of various actors, such as the state, society and markets, in shaping socio-economic contributions; frameworks to analyze and measure these socio-economic effects from higher education; national models of how higher education contributes to the society and economy; etc.
It was a brilliant, very fruitful experience with a truly international group of participants. Not just for networking purposes, but the collegiality and encouragements of established and young researchers alike was great at this Summer School, setting it apart from other academic events I have attended.
Sinead Marian D'Silva
School of Education, University of Leeds
In 2018, the School’s enrollment was 20 capable and motivated MA, doctoral and postdoc fellows from Russia, Germany, the UK, Portugal, Italy, Finland, Hong Kong, India, Chile, Columbia, etc. Instruction in the School was given by top-tier education professionals with expertise traversing various areas of international scholarship and practice. The faculty included: Steven Brint (Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Public Policy, University of California, Riverside, the USA); Isak Froumin (Head of Institute of Education, National Research University Higher School of Economics, Russia); Simon Marginson (Director and Professor, Centre for Global Higher Education, Institute of Education, University College London, the UK); Pedro Teixeira (Director, Research Centre on Higher Education Policy (CIPES) and Associate Professor, Faculty of Economics, University of Porto, Portugal); Po Yang (Associate Professor, Graduate School of Education and Research Fellow, China Institute of Education Finance Research, Peking University, China).
PhD Candidate in Economics and Management of Technology, University of Pavia