Thursday, 15 September 2011

On #Higher #Education and Society in Changing Times and searching for the reason why educational research centres are under siege

As the economic crisis is hitting a lot of countries, the strategies to counter this crisis are quite diverse. Certain countries opt to increase education and research (e.g. Germany) and cut budgets in other areas, other countries are slicing down education/research (e.g. United Kingdom). Personally, I cannot imagine how any politician that understands the growing knowledge era can vote in favor of research/educational cuts. But then I am a firm believer that education will add to human solutions (which is not the same as that education will save us all, but .... most of us will be able to improve our own path through life). In times of need, I think you must run ahead, move forward and explore to find new horizons. In that respect I like the American adagio of looking for the new frontier.

How strange is it to read on the one hand that education is changing rapidly and is in need for a new balance, while on the other hand educational research centres are - just in these times - shut down?

The UK has been a knowledge bastion for centuries (just like other regions in the world), but recently some major Technology Enhanced Learning centers were closed, without alternatives being set up. Last year Becta was closed, this year CHERI, or the Centre for Higher Education Research and Information is closed.

Before closing down, CHERI has published a final document that is of interest to Higher Education: "Higher Education and Society in Changing Times: looking back and looking forward."

It is an interesting document, looking at different aspects of Higher Ed:

  • Higher education and social change: researching the ‘end times’ (John Brennan)
  • Looking back, looking forward: the changing structure of UK higher education, 1980-2012. (Roger Brown)
  • Globalisation and higher education.(Roger King)
  • Learning and engagement dimensions of higher education in knowledge society discourses. (Mala Singh and Brenda Little)
  • Supporting students in a time of change (Ruth Williams)
  • Higher education in the ‘risk society’ (Sofia Branco Sousa)
  • Implementing the Bologna Process: an example of policy recontextualisation – the case of Spain. (Marina Elias)
  • The public role of higher education and student participation in higher education governance. ( Manja Klemenčič)
If a nation or region is in crisis, looking at succesful strategies to climb out of recessions, difficult situations, natural disasters... is a worthwhile investment. Cutting educational research downsizes chances for the weakest of any regions citizens, and a nation or region can only be as strong as its weakest members, or is this just some idealistic illusion speaking from within my heart?