The Higher Education Research group engages with the ESRC/OFSRE Centre for Global Higher Education (CGHE), which is now headquartered at Oxford with its researchers’ office, which is located in the department’s Bruner Building.

CGHE is an international research centre focused on higher education and its future development. Its 16 major research projects span global, national and local aspects of higher education. CGHE’s mission is to develop new knowledge about higher education and to inform and improve higher education policy and practice. It is a partnership of six UK universities (Oxford, UCL Institute of Education, Lancaster, Sheffield, Bath and Durham) and eight international universities (Shanghai Jiao Tong, Lingnan in Hong Kong, Hiroshima, Australian National, Cape Town, Michigan, Leiden and University Technology Dublin). CGHE’s Director is Professor Simon Marginson and its Oxford Administrator is Ellie Gaspar. For more information about CGHE and its research projects, ofindings, policy-related outputs, seminars, conferences and events see http://www.researchcghe.org/

This group brings together and supports research on the economic, political and social changes facing higher education, both in the UK and globally.

Key foci include:

  • the implications of higher education policies on access
  • the future of quality measurement and assurance
  • changes facing doctoral education

The group is also engaged in debates about the future of teaching and learning in higher education, changing genres of academic writing, the future of methods, professional development of academics and other university staff, and international and comparative studies in higher education. This spectrum of interests is reflected in our publications.

The group’s recent research work has been supported by a wide range of funding bodies and sources, such as the Economic and Social Research Council, Higher Education Funding Council for England, Higher Education Academy, Department for Education, Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency, Bundesinstitut für Berufbildung (BIBB), Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), and the European Commission.

Our international research partners include the Department of Human Resource Education (Wirtschaftspädagogik) at the University of Paderborn, the Department of Sociology at the University of HeidelbergCentre for Research in Higher Education Policies at the University of Porto, and the Institut für Höhere Studien in Vienna.


Selected Publications

  • Ertl, H. (2013): German Higher Education and the State: A critical appraisal in the light of post-Bologna reforms Oxford Studies in Comparative Education, Vol. 22, No. 1, 131-152.
  • Ertl, H. (2013): The Impact of the Post-Bologna Reforms on German Higher Education and Transition of Graduates into the Labour Market, SKOPE Research Paper, No. 116 (March 2013).
  • Ertl, H., Carasso, H., Holmes, C. (2013): Are degrees worth higher fees? Perceptions of potential undergraduates on the financial benefits of entering higher education. SKOPE Research Paper, No. 117 (June 2013).
  • McAlpine, L., Amundsen, C., & Turner, G. (2013). Identity-trajectory: Reframing early career academic experience. Ifirst: 6 NOV 2013 | DOI: 10.1002/berj.3123
  • McAlpine, L., Amundsen, C., & Turner, G. (2013). Tracking experience over time: Epistemological issues and methodological challenges. In J. Huisman & M. Tight (Eds) Theory and Method in Higher Education Research. London UK: Routledge; Volume 9, 97-114.
  • Yu, K. & Ertl, H. (2013): The role of independent colleges in the expanding higher education system of China, in: Hsieh P.J. (ed.): Education in East Asia (London: Bloomsbury), 29-48.

Study with us

Taught courses

MSc Education (Higher Education)

Members of the Higher Education and Professional Learning Research Group run the one-year MSc Education (Higher Education), attended by 10 to 14 students every year. This Masters course provides a broad introduction into the complex field of theories and practice in higher education globally.

It is aimed at future leaders in the field – academics, managers, policy-makers and researchers. The course provides a strong foundation for

  • teaching and learning in a wide variety of higher educational contexts
  • developing higher education curricula and learning programmes to meet a range of local and international needs
  • using research to analyse and evaluate current structures and future reforms of higher education in different international contexts
  • conducting doctoral, post-doctoral and professional research

Examples of past DPhil projects include

  • Liberty and justice for all? Exploring the relationship between student loan debt, human liberty, and social justice in American higher education
  • University teachers’ perspectives on quality assurance in Chinese higher education: Three institutional case studies
  • Going ‘higher’ in further education: Exploring the motivations, experiences, expectations and employment outcomes of higher education students
in further education colleges and universities
  • Unpacking Faculty Development in Japan: An ethnography of faculty development practitioners.
  • Innovation in vocational education and training in England, Germany and Austria: Implications of practitioners’ perspectives for policy development and college leadership
  • Muslim Chaplaincy on Campus: A case-study of two American Universities.
  • Delaying the Academy: A Gap Year Education
  • Academic mobility of students in Europe: a case study of Latvian students at English universities
  • Implementing the financial provisions of the Higher Education Act (2004): English universities in a new quasi-market
  • Knowledge acquisition by organizations: China’s high technology enterprises and high-skilled knowledge workers.
  • Profiting from change: a case study of resilience, conflict and resolution in MBA curriculum reform
  • Balancing at the boundaries of organisations: knowledge co-configuration between experts in an e-Science project.
  • Diversification of higher education in China and the student learning experience

Knowledge Exchange

The group has an ongoing research collaboration with colleagues in the Graduate School of Education at Shanghai Jiao Tong University. The aim of the collaboration is to facilitate the exchange of expertise on higher education research, to develop joint research proposals, to facilitate research periods for visiting students and academic staff, and to enhance the supervision of research students who work on topics of mutual interest and expertise.