22 SES 05 D, Leadership in Academia
The paper explores the extent to which Higher Education researchers whilst undertaking a senior leadership/management role, can make a useful research-knowledge based contribution to the leadership of teaching and learning in European universities. The paper concentrates on leadership roles in research-intensive and dual-intensive universities where research is often valued more highly than teaching but in a current European policy context where the tide is beginning to turn towards endeavours to value teaching more highly (BIS 2015, European Commission 2013). Thus the research question the paper addresses is: Can higher education researchers make a useful contribution in senior university leadership and management roles related to teaching and learning which involves drawing on their research expertise? There are several starting points for this analysis. Firstly, as several writers have noted, HE researchers come from many different fields (MacFarlane and Grant 2012, Ashwin et al 2015) so their work potentially spans several disciplines but this has the disadvantage that there is no single academic community with which researchers identify and that the subject can thus be perceived by others as lacking status or an example of what Vauchez (2008) calls a ‘weak’ field. The Ashwin (2015) study of a sample of newer HE researchers in Europe showed considerable variation in original discipline and career trajectory (often HE as a field of study comes later in life after a different professional career) but found the most policy-focused respondents were mature entrants. A lot of the growth in volume of HE research in Europe is attributable to the implementation of the Bologna process stimulating an increase in interest in teaching and learning research in universities (Deem 2015). Secondly, though studies of university leaders and managers have noted that use of their subject/discipline is made by manager-academics (Deem et al 2007), often this is practical, such as using statistical data or filleting archives. Actually drawing on research as a basis for strategy and policy is far rarer. Thirdly, a study by Kenedi and Mountford-Zimdars (2015) suggests that in the UK and perhaps elsewhere, relatively few academics with backgrounds in Education become Pro-Vice-Chancellors/Vice-Rectors for Teaching and Learning. But this is less surprising. If we look at how university leaders view experience versus training in undertaking their roles (Deem 2007, Deem 2012), experience often trumps training and hence there is a sometimes a dislike of professional expertise. How academics are recruited to academic roles also affects this, since in senior teams attention often demonstrate a spread of broad disciplinary groupings. In some European countries those who want to be rectors put together a team for election by a council of university representatives but in countries like the UK where vacancies for Pro-Vice-Chancellors come up one at a time for appointment, this is not the case and a disciplinary grouping may already be represented when the Teaching/Learning post vacancy arises. In addition, in some European countries Education or Didactics departments do not enjoy high status and so their staff may not be a popular choice for senior posts. Finally for those HE researchers that do make it to Vice Rector Education or similar posts, there is the issue of the legitimacy of their knowledge and how its use in a senior leadership or management role is interpreted. Jasanoff’s (2004) work makes use of the concept of co-production of knowledge by academics and others but in higher education, the co-production can be between HE researchers and other academics, much of whose work is already in a process of significant change (Musselin 2012, Nyhagen and Baschung 2013). This co-production may prove a useful tool in altering academic attitudes to teaching.
Ashwin, P., et al. (2015). " Newer researchers in higher education: policy actors or policy subjects? ." Studies in Higher Education doi: 10.1080/03075079.2015.1029902. MacFarlane, B. and B. Grant (2012 ). "The growth of higher education studies: from forerunners to pathtakers." Higher Education Research & Development 31(5): 621-624. Deem, R., et al. (2007). Knowledge, Higher Education and the New Managerialism: The Changing Management of UK Universities. Oxford, Oxford University Press. Deem, R. (2012b). ‘Universities under New Labour - senior leaders' responses to government reforms and policy levers - findings from an ESRC project on public service leadership. Leadership, Management, and the Professions in the Public Sector (ed) C. Teelken, M. Dent and E. Ferlie. London, Routledge. Deem, R. (2015). "What is the Nature of the Relationship between Changes in European Higher Education and Social Science Research on Higher Education and (Why) Does It Matter?" Journal of European Integration 37(2): 263-279. Department for Business Innovation and Skills (2015). Fulfilling our potential; Teaching Excellence, Social Mobility and Student Choice (The Higher Education Green Paper), London, Her Majesty's Stationery Office. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/474266/BIS-15-623-fulfilling-our-potential-teaching-excellence-social-mobility-and-student-choice-accessible.pdf European Commission High Level Group on the Modernisation of Higher Education (2013). "Improving the quality of teaching and learning in Europe’s higher education institutions." Retrieved January, 2013 from http://ec.europa.eu/education/higher-education/doc/modernisation_en.pdf. Jasanoff, S. (2004 ). The Co-Production of Science and the Social Order. New York, Routledge. New York Routledge Kenedi, G. and A. Mountford-Zimdars (2015). An education puzzle: why are there so few educational researchers in PVC Education positions in higher education institutions? Society for Research into Higher Education conference, Celtic Manor, Newport, Wales, UK, Unpublished paper Maynes, M. J., et al. (2007). Telling Stories: The Use of Personal Narratives in the Social Sciences and History. Ithaca, NY, Cornell University Press. Musselin, C. (2012). "Redefinition of the relationships between academics and their university." Higher Education, 65, 25–37. Nyhagen, G. M., and L, B. (2013). "New organisational structures and the transformation of academic work." Higher Education, 66, 409–423 Vauchez, A. 2008. The Force of a Weak Field: Law and Lawyers in the Government of the European Union (For a Renewed Research Agenda). International Political Sociology 2, no. 2: 128–44
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