We are delighted to welcome a host of fantastic plenary speakers to our 2021 Conference. Their wealth of experience and research expertise will help us to engage in some meaningful discussion on a range of important issues in higher education research and practice. There will be plenty of Q&A time during these plenaries, and attendees are warmly encouraged to submit their questions either during the session or even ahead of time if you wish (by e-mailing srhe@srhe.ac.uk).

Opening remarks

08:45-09:00, Monday 6th December 2021

A brief welcome from Helen Perkins, Director, Society for Research into Higher Education.

Helen Perkins, Director, Society for Research into Higher Education

Helen was appointed Director/CEO of SRHE in January 2005.She brings to the Society a wealth of business experience at top management level, gained in both the public and private sector. This spanned industry (chemicals, construction, and steel making) and the financial sector and management consultancy (Director Human Resources Development for Pricewaterhouse Europe).

Throughout her business career Helen invested personal and professional time engaged in working with the Higher Education sector, through appointments on numerous Government and Higher Education advisory bodies and Councils over many years and from her time as deputy chairman of Staffordshire University Board of Governors, pre and post 1992, and as a member of several university career boards.
Helen was Chairman of the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR now Institute of Student Employers (ISE), the employers’ organisation representing businesses large and small, engaged in graduate recruitment and career development. In this capacity she led a major project to establish a framework for best practice in the recruitment and continuous development of graduates in employment, spearheaded new initiatives designed to foster effective partnerships between business and higher education and commissioned the AGR Report on Skills for Graduates in the 21st century.

Helen holds a Masters degree in Experimental Psychology and Philosophy from the University of Oxford and has post graduate qualifications in Psychometrics and assessment methodologies.

Higher Education in/of East Asia

11:00-12:00, Tuesday 7th December 2021

This session focuses on developments and evolving trends in education in China and Hong Kong, in the context of increasingly international higher education. The panel will reflect on issues raised by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as well as regionally-specific social and political developments, and will discuss the motivations, opportunities, and obstacles to international student and academic mobility to and from China and Hong Kong. The session will consider the uneven nature of China and Hong Kong in research globally, and will discuss tensions between internationalisation and indigenisation in the sector.

Dr Miguel Antonio Lim, University of Manchester

Dr Miguel Antonio Lim is Senior Lecturer in Education at the Manchester Institute of Education at the University of Manchester. He is co-convenor of the Higher Education Research Network at the University of Manchester and the International Research and Researchers Network of the Society for Research into Higher Education (SRHE).

At the University of Manchester he has served as impact coordinator and co-research coordinator of the Manchester Institute of Education. He is also a contributor to the University’s External Relations Strategy Group. Previously, he was EU-Marie Curie Fellow at Aarhus University, Denmark, and task force leader on migration and higher education at the EU-Marie Curie Alumni Association. He has worked and taught at Sciences Po-Paris, the London School of Economics (LSE), and University College London (UCL).

His research interests include internationalization of higher education, East Asian and transnational higher education, university rankings and performance metrics.

Professor Rui Yang, University of Hong Kong

Rui Yang is Professor and Associate Dean for Research at the Faculty of Education in the University of Hong Kong. With over 30 years of academic career in China, Australia and Hong Kong, he has an impressive track record on research at the interface of Chinese and Western traditions in education. He has established his reputation among scholars in English and Chinese national languages in the fields of comparative and international education and Chinese higher education. Bridging the theoretical thrust of comparative education and the applied nature of international education, his research interests include education policy sociology, comparative and cross-cultural studies in education, international higher education, educational development in Chinese societies, and international politics in educational research. Professor Yang’s international reputation is evidenced by his extensive list of publications, research projects, invited keynote lectures in international and regional conferences, leadership in professional associations and membership in editorial boards of scholarly journals.

Dr Xin Xu, Centre for Global Higher Education & University of Oxford

Xin Xu (许心) is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Global Higher Education (CGHE), Department of Education, University of Oxford. Xin’s research and teaching focus on academic research, global and international higher education, and Chinese higher education. Xin’s publications appear in peer-reviewed academic journals in English and Chinese languages. A recently completed research project is a SRHE-funded project on international faculty in mainland Chinese universities (co-PI with Giulio Marini). A forthcoming book is Changing Higher Education in East Asia (co-edited with Simon Marginson, Bloomsbury, 2022).

Learning from ‘learning analytics’: Data-Gathering and Digital Platforms in Higher Education

11:00-12:00, Wednesday 8th December 2021

Although interest in and deployment of learning analytics is increasing throughout our sector, there remains a dearth of research-led understanding of the effects of digital infrastructures on the way we teach and learn, and the kinds of data these infrastructures produce. This session takes stock of developments in learning analytics in higher education, the complexities of how learning analytics are and could be employed, and the future possibilities presented by learning analytics practice. We will discuss pedagogical and ethical questions around the use of digital platforms in higher education learning, and how digital technologies intervene in the creation of knowledge itself. We will reflect on the application of learning analytics in the context of internationalisation, student engagement, and widening participation.

Professor Lesley Gourlay, University College London

Lesley Gourlay is a Professor of Education in the department of Culture, Communication and Media at University College London. Her scholarship focuses on technologies and knowledge practices of students and academics, with a particular emphasis on textual practices and the digital. Her recent theoretical work has focused on sociomaterial and posthuman perspectives on engagement in the university, exploring themes of space, inscription, nonhuman agency, and digital media. She is a recipient of a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship (2021-2024), and is writing a new monograph for Bloomsbury on the topic of The Datafied University: Documentation and Performativity in Digitised Education.

Dr Carlo Perrotta, Monash University

Carlo is Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Education at Monash University (Melbourne, Australia), where he teaches and carries out research relating to educational technology and digital literacies. Carlo’s recent research is concerned with the social and political accountability of algorithms in education, automation and artificial intelligence. His research has been funded by leading international bodies such as the European Commission, the ESRC and UNESCO. At Monash, Carlo is also co-leader of the Digital Education Research group (DER@Monash), an internationally recognised centre of expertise in digital education research. Before joining Monash in 2018, Carlo held research posts at the University of Leeds, and the UCL Institute of Education in London. Prior to Academia, Carlo worked at Futurelab, a UK-based, non-for-profit ‘think tank’ that explored the potential of digital technology in education.

Professor Paul Prinsloo, University of South Africa

Paul Prinsloo is a Research Professor in Open and Distance Learning (ODL) in the Department of Business Management, College of Economic and Management Sciences, University of South Africa (Unisa). He is also a Visiting Professor at the Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg, Germany, a Research Associate for Contact North I Contact Nord (Canada) and a Fellow of the European Distance and E-Learning Network (EDEN) and serves on several editorial boards. His academic background includes fields as diverse as theology, art history, business management, online learning, and religious studies. Paul is an internationally recognised speaker, scholar and researcher and has published numerous articles in the fields of teaching and learning, student success in distance education contexts, the ethical collection, analysis and use of student data in learning analytics, and (digital) identities.   He blogs at https://opendistanceteachingandlearning.wordpress.com/ and his Twitter alias is @14prinsp

Mind the Gap: Academic-Policy Engagement

13:00 ‐ 14:00, Thursday 9th December 2021

In this session, we discuss the importance of sustained engagement between academics and policy professionals across the higher education sector, and how research evidence and academic expertise is central to effective public policy. We consider the obstacles and challenges to academic-policy engagement: engaging with public policy can be an uncertain and obscure process for academic researchers, while different working timescales between researchers and policymakers can compromise mutual understanding and collaboration. As well as exploring ways to support academic-policy engagement, this session will reflect on structural and relational inequalities which impact academic-policy engagement, and propose strategies for diversifying mechanisms of engagement.

Sarah Chaytor, University College London

Sarah Chaytor is UCL’s Director of Research Strategy & Policy. Sarah established UCL’s flagship academic-policy engagement initiative, UCL Public Policy, and was a co-founder of UPEN, the Universities Policy Engagement Network.

Her role at UCL includes overseeing the UCL Public Policy programme and building UCL’s capacity to engage with public policy. She works closely with the Vice-Provost (Research, Innovation and Global Engagement) on the strategic management of UCL’s research agenda and the coordination of activities across the portfolio. She has a particular focus on external stakeholder engagement and research policy, as well as developing and managing institutional strategic initiatives, and is the co-lead for the £10 million Capabilities in Academic-Policy Engagement project.

Prior to joining UCL, Sarah worked in policy roles with the Russell Group, the Wellcome Trust and Universities UK, as a parliamentary researcher, and for a think tank.

Dr Olivia Stevenson, University College London

Dr Olivia Stevenson is Deputy Director of UCL Public Policy. Olivia joined in 2015 and is responsible for leading the UCL Public Policy programme. Focused on generating collaborative opportunities, Olivia develops strategic initiatives to improve the quality of engagement between academic research and public policy. She is co-lead on the Capabilities in Academic-Policy Engagement (CAPE) project.

Olivia is a cofounder of the Universities Policy Engagement Network (UPEN) and has delivered a range of internationally recognised high impact research projects, published widely, most recently on structural and relational inequalities.

Olivia has a PhD in Social Geography from the University of Leeds.

Dr Giulia Cuccato, Government Office for Science

Giulia is a trained scientist with a PhD from Reading University in Risk Assessment of Genetically Modified Crops followed by two postdocs in systems and synthetic biology. Giulia turned her interest to policy for science after a stint as an editor at Nature and has been a civil servant for almost 8 years. In her role now she support the Government Chief Scientific Advisor (GCSA, Sir Patrick Vallance) in ensuring the government has access to the best scientific advice and information to inform policies and decisions. Recently she has focussed on understanding science systems in government and on how to improve the way we interact with our academic base.

Centring Students in Higher Education: Access, Equality, and Making Change

13:30 – 14:30, Friday 10th December 2021

For almost two years now, students have had to adapt to a transformed higher education sector, often with little opportunity to process and intervene in the changes underway. This session invites reflections from two speakers who work to create space for student voices and experiences—especially those most marginalised within the student body. We will discuss ways in which social, political, and economic developments – including the COVID-19 pandemic – have impacted students’ experience of and access to higher education, as well as considering possible opportunities for positive change which have been presented during and since the pandemic. We will also reflect on educational equity and equal access, including how students can be involved as interlocutors in their own education.

Dr Franziska Lessky, University for Continuing Education Krems

Franziska Lessky is currently working as a research and teaching associate (post doc) at the Department for Higher Education Research at the University for Continuing Education Krems in Austria. She is passionate about student equity and student success in higher education. In her PhD-project she explored first-in-family students’ experiences at university and unpacked how they balance study and term-time work. Franziska is also keen about supporting early career researchers by joining the boards of HoFoNa and Emerging Researchers of ÖFEB – two networks dedicated to connect early career scholars in higher education research in the German-speaking countries and beyond.

Harriet Moore Student, Union President and Student Governor, Plymouth College of Art Students' Union

Harriet Moore is currently Student Union President and Student Governor at Plymouth College of Art. Her work focuses on student wellbeing, representation and accessibility.

Harriet’s work advocating for students had led to her contributing an essay to the 2021 Plymouth White Paper, titled “How the pandemic has affected students in Plymouth, and how we can recover”. In recent months, 40,000 students voted her as the winner of an international award for Best Campaign Supporting Student Wellbeing.

In this session, Harriet is going to speak about her work diversifying and broadening student representation, and in fostering a more connected student community.

Dr Chantelle Jessica Lewis, University of Oxford

Chantelle Jessica Lewis is a public sociologist, broadcaster and event director whose research is situated at the intersections of socio-historical analysis; politics, Black feminism, family studies and racism studies. She is the co-host of The Surviving Society podcast, the Deputy Director of Leading Routes (See the #BlackinAcademia events & campaign) and currently holds a Junior Research Fellowship in Black British studies at Pembroke College, University of Oxford.

Reflection & closing remarks

16:45 ‐ 17:30, Friday 10th December 2021

Professor Jacqueline Stevenson and Dr Camille Kandiko Howson, Chair and Vice Chair of the SRHE Research and Development Committee draw the conference to a close and offer insights on themes which emerged during the course of the event.

Professor Jacqueline Stevenson, University of Leeds & Chair, SRHE Research and Development Committee

Professor Jacqueline Stevenson is Director of the Lifelong Learning Centre at the University of Leeds. She is a sociologist of education with interests in equity and diversity, widening participation, and student success. Her research focusses in particular on the differential higher education experiences of students from black and minority ethnic backgrounds, religious students, international students, and refugees and other forced migrants. She draws on the theoretical lenses of resilience, belonging, mattering, time, temporality and future selves. She was previously Head of Research in the Sheffield Institute of Education, Sheffield Hallam University and Professor of Higher Education at Leeds Beckett University.

Dr Camille Kandiko Howson, Imperial College London & Vice Chair, SRHE Research and Development Committee

Dr Camille Kandiko Howson is Associate Professor of Education in the Centre for Higher Education Research & Scholarship (CHERS) at Imperial College London.  She is an international expert in higher education research with a focus on student engagement; student outcomes and learning gain; and quality, performance and accountability. She recently evaluated the Office for Students’ £4million Learning Gain Pilot Projects. She is a Principle Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.  Camille’s current research focuses on international and comparative higher education, the curriculum; using Big Data and learning analytics to support the student experience; high quality and high impact pedagogical research; academic motivation, prestige and gender; and developing the use of concept mapping in higher education and intersectionality in research design.