Future of HE: Centre for Engaged Global Higher Education

Lead Research Organisation: University of Oxford
Department Name: Education


The last two generations have seen a remarkable world-wide transformation of higher education (HE) into a core social sector with continually expanding local and global reach. Most nations are moving towards, or have already become, 'high participation' HE systems in which the majority of people will be educated to tertiary level. In the UK HE is at the same time a pillar of science and the innovation system, a primary driver of productivity at work, a major employer and a mainstay of cities and regions, and a national export industry where 300,000 non-EU students generated over £7 billion in export-related earnings for the UK in 2012-13. In 2012, 60 per cent of UK school leavers were expected to graduate from tertiary education over the lifetime, 45 per cent at bachelor degree level, compared to OECD means of 53/39 per cent. Higher education and the scientific research associated with universities have never been more important to UK society and government. HE is large and inclusive with a key role in mediating the future. Yet it is poorly understood. Practice has moved ahead of social science. There has been no integrated research centre dedicated to this important part of the UK. The Centre for Engaged Global Higher Education (CEGHE), which has been funded initially for five years by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), now fills that gap.

On behalf of the ESRC CEGHE conducts and disseminates research on all aspects of higher education (HE), in order to enhance student learning and the contributions of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to their communities; develop the economic, social and global engagement of and impacts of UK HE; and provide data resources and advice for government and stakeholder organisations in HE in the four nations of the UK and worldwide. CEGHE is organised in three closely integrated research programmes that are focused respectively on global, national-system and local aspects of HE. CEGHE's team of researchers work on roblems and issues with broad application to the improvement of HE; develop new theories about and ways of researching HE and its social and economic contributions; and respond also to new issues as they arise, within the framework of its research programmes. An important part of CEGHE's work is the preparation and provision of data, briefings and advice to national and international policy makers, for HEIs themselves, and for UK organisations committed to fostering HE and its engagement with UK communities and stakeholders. CEGHE's seminars and conferences are open to the public and it is dedicated to disseminating its research findings on a broad basis through published papers, media articles and its website and social media platform.

CEGHE is led by Professor Simon Marginson, one of the world's leading researchers on higher education matters with a special expertise in global and international aspects of the sector. It works with partner research universities in Sheffield, Lancaster, Ireland, Australia, South Africa, Netherlands, China, Hong Kong SAR, Japan and USA. Among the issues currently the subject of CEGHE research projects are inquiries into ways and means of measuring and enhancing HE's contribution to the public good, university-industry collaboration in research, the design of an optimal system of tuition loans, a survey of the effects of tuition debt on the life choices of graduates such as investment in housing and family formation, the effects of widening participation on social opportunities in HE especially for under-represented social groups, trends and developments in HE in Europe and East Asia and the implications for UK HE, the emergence of new HE providers in the private and FE sectors, the future academic workforce in the UK and the skills that will be needed, student learning and knowledge in science and engineering, and developments in online HE.

Planned Impact

The Centre for Engaged Global Higher Education (CEGHE) will conduct research designed to transform our understanding of higher education (HE) in its economic and social contexts. In the public and connected environment in and around HE, CEGHE's research and findings will interest government and policy makers, public agencies, stakeholder organisations in HE, associated sectors (e.g. employers and professions), HEIs, the media and public, international agencies such as the OECD, and many HEI leaders and policy makers-throughout the world.

The main strategy to achieve ongoing impact is CEGHE's structured collaborations with Associated Organisations (AOs). At second stage submission the AOs included GuildHE, Higher Education Academy, Higher Education Policy Institute, Institute for Public Policy Research, National Centre for Universities and Business, National Union of Students, Social Market Foundation, Society for Research into Higher Education, Times Higher, Universities and College Union, Universities UK, Universities UK International Unit, Which?, and WonkHE. If CEGHE is funded more AOs may sign, including public HE agencies. The majority of the CEGHE Advisory Board (chaired by Professor Sir Robert Burgess) will be AOs,

AOs can be engaged in every stage: project design; on project committees; in preparing benchmarks for assessing impact; as participants in some data collection; and providing critical feedback on draft papers and the preparation of materials for different audiences. The release of findings will be double- or multi-badged with AOs and they will share the seminar programme and leadership of CEGHE conferences. In turn they will gain access to CEGHE research findings, influence the applications of the research, and position themselves effectively in subsequent national discussion. By working with CEGHE 'in the kitchen' they will be better placed to use its outputs. The AOs will enhance CEGHE's sensitivity to HEIs, policy makers and interest groups, and trigger many new initiatives in research and applications. They will be an invaluable source of informed comment at every stage of CEGHE's work. In addition, some organisations such as HEA have major data repositories of their own that may be accessible for CEGHE research purposes.

For policy makers and government, CEGHE will offer evidence-based data across a range of key issues in HE, and scope to enter a research based public discussion on an informed basis. Some projects will be of immediate policy interest, e.g. research on the growing private sector in HE, a data-based study of relations between financing and participation, a survey comparing graduates with and without debt, and the comparative international metrics on HE-industry engagement. CEGHE will prepare the ground with policy makers using selective briefings, and release main project findings at public events, engaging government ministers and officials. CEGHE's capacity to impact policy and government through research will often depend on the prior reception of its findings among stakeholders and in the media and public discussion. Media-significant data are more likely to gather public impact and shape policy thought. CEGHE will focus closely on media as this is the best way to reach large numbers of stakeholders. The Times Higher, one of the AOs, will co-sponsor seminars and conferences, and provide a principal medium for publicising outcomes and building stakeholder involvement.

CEGHE will sustain a seminar series in each Research Programme, combined 'Key Debates in HE' seminars and Early Career Researcher seminars, and three conferences, involving stakeholders and policy makers. Events will be held across UK including partner universities of Sheffield and Lancaster. The CEGHE website will be an ESRC research shop front for UK HE; continuously updated, it will be the Centre's point of dissemination and public data exchange, and a broad source of information about UK Higher Education.


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Related Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Award Value
ES/M010082/1 12/11/2015 31/12/2018 £4,931,092
ES/M010082/2 Transfer ES/M010082/1 01/01/2019 31/10/2020 £2,228,890