Higher education research is on the up 1

January 15, 2009

There are some interesting contradictions regarding higher education research. Your feature ("Practise what you preach", 8 January) suggests that research into higher education in the UK is little practised and poorly regarded, with one of your respondents suggesting that the Institute of Education in London is the only institution with "critical mass" in this area.

Yet in your report on the findings of the research assessment exercise review panels, you reveal that the education panel notes "a general rise in quality and a growth in research into higher education" (News, 8 January).

The picture is both a little more complex and hopeful than your feature suggests. Yes, there is a relative lack of large-scale and quantitative research into higher education, and there are no higher education research centres on a par with some of those in the US or with Twente in the Netherlands.

But there are many more British academics with some interest in researching higher education now than there have ever been. This is partly because of the increased focus on academic development that has seen substantial funds going to research and development in teaching and learning.

I can think of quite a few institutions outside London, my own included, that would have good claims for "critical mass" in terms of the numbers of academic staff and research students investigating higher education. The missing generation of higher education researchers is, therefore, frankly a myth. This is not to deny, of course, that there is much to be done, but let's not fall into the trap of minimising and decrying what we have done.

Malcolm Tight, Lancaster University.

Please login or register to read this article

Register to continue

Get a month's unlimited access to THE content online. Just register and complete your career summary.

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments