Dr Kate Carruthers Thomas, Birmingham City University

Dr Charikleia Charoula Tzanakou, Oxford Brookes University

The COVID-19 pandemic had and continues to have, a significant impact on the global higher education sector. The implications of emergency lockdowns, the pivot to online teaching and learning, changes to working practices and the impact on student and staff wellbeing extend into multiple areas of higher education practice and research, as do equality considerations.

Given the specific context of the COVID-19 pandemic, this life-limited (two-year) Network aims to provide dedicated space for issues and research around COVID-19 which would support existing networks and areas of activity for the Society. The purpose of the network is to bring together researchers and practitioners from a range of theoretical, disciplinary and national backgrounds who are engaged in critical studies of the experience, impact and longer-term implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global higher education sector. The network’s remit will include multiple phases of the COVID-19 pandemic: from early 2020 to the present day – and beyond.

Specific aims include:

  • To provide a forum for engagement with the rapidly emerging literature on higher education and the pandemic, addressing a range of issues relating to staff, students and institutions
  • To convene up to three events each academic year and to have a presence at the SRHE Annual Research Conference. In accordance with SRHE’s current capability, events would be either fully online/fully in-person with appropriate ‘light touch’ hybridity where this enabled participation of, for example, those with Long Covid.
  • To facilitate the presentation and discussion of new research into the experiences, impacts and longer-term implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on the higher education sector
  • To engage with other SRHE Networks and external SIGs in applying pandemic-related research to a wide range of topics within the sector

This network aims to engage with a wide variety of those involved in higher Education. We hope that participants will be:
• both UK-based and international
• academics at any career stage including doctoral study
• professional and managerial staff in higher education.

Network Convenor bionotes

Kate is a Senior Research Fellow at Birmingham City University specialising in contemporary higher education, gender and creative methods. She is a long-standing member of SRHE and previously co-convened the Widening Participation Network with Professor Jacqueline Stevenson and Annette Hayton. She has acted as Lead Assessor, Reviewer and Mentor for SRHE Conference, Scoping and Research Awards and as a presenter, co-presenter and facilitator of SRHE seminars and conference events, including THIRDSPACE, an online academic writing community for female academics in 2021. Kate has a great deal of experience in convening events, including the BCU xCHANGE Festival for International Women’s Day (2018-2022). Her most recent research, funded by a SRHE Research Award (2020): Dear Diary: Equality implications for female academics of changes to working practices in lockdown and beyond investigated the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the working practices, career progression and wellbeing of female academics in UK higher education institutions.

Charoula is a Senior Lecturer in HRM (with a focus on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion), teaching along with working on national and European research projects on gender equality and diversity issues in organisations and society, transitions from education to employment and academic (im)mobilities. The overarching theme of her research rests upon inequalities in higher education and social justice with a particular focus on gender (in)equalities, mobility and transitions from education to employment (including transitions from doctoral training to academic careers and beyond). Charoula is currently the PI (UK team) on an EU H2020-funded project with direct relevance to the proposed work of the HEC19 network: RESISTIRE (2021-2023), a study on the impact of COVID-19 on socio-economic and health inequalities – further details can be found at: She is also the Co-Director for the Centre for Diversity Policy Research and Practice at Oxford Brookes University, and an advisory board member of the Academic Im/Mobilites International Network.

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30 January 2024, Tuesday, 13:00
Exploring graduate outcomes: do we need to look beyond earnings and occupation?
Venue: Online event - link will be provided