Centre for Higher Education and Equity Research (CHEER)

News Archive: 2017/18

August 2018

Louise Morley made the keynote presentation: Women and Higher Education Leadership: An Object of Desire or Something to be Avoided? at the National Symposium on Gender in Higher Education, at the University Grants Commission (UGC) Sri Lanka held in Colombo. Louise also participated in a panel discussion on Quality and Equality in Higher Education. The presentation drew on CHEER's research on women in leadership in South Asia and the conference brought together policymakers, NGOs and academics to discuss gendered gains and challenges in Sri Lankan higher education. The UGC Centre for Gender Equity/Equality is now discussing how to translate the research findings into action e.g. the under-representation of women in senior leadership positions.

July 2018

Professor Jillian Blackmore1. CHEER welcomes new acclaimed Visiting Professor from Australia

CHEER is delighted to announce that Jillian Blackmore, Alfred Deakin Professor and Professor of Education at Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia will be a Visiting Professor within CHEER from September 2018-21. The Visiting Professorship will facilitate collaborative research and publications.

Professor Blackmore is an internationally acclaimed academic for her research and publications in the field of equity and education - especially in higher education. She is an impressively productive researcher and the author of a range of books, journal articles, book chapters and research reports. Her outstanding achievements were recognised in January 2017 when she was awarded the Order of Australia Medal.

Her research has an underlying historical and sociological programme of inquiry. Her programme of research investigates and maps shifts in relations between the state, 'family', work, civil society and the individual through education with particular regard to equity. Professor Blackmore draws from feminist and critical perspectives, which have led to a number of theoretical trajectories and empirical ‘cases’ across all education sectors – higher education, technical education and school education as well as community sites and workplaces. These include:

  • International education, mobility and professional identities
  • Globalisation / localisation, educational restructuring and governance (higher education, technical education and schools)
  • Equity, diversity and inclusion in education
  • Gender, ‘race’ and class identity formation in and through education
  • Understandings of leadership, teaching and administrative work within a knowledge society
  • Academic, graduate and teacher workforce planning
  • Quality, accountability and educational research
  • Changing governance and the relationship between the state, 'family' and markets in education
  • Autonomy, self-managing organizations, teacher and leader professional identities
  • Leadership and organisational change
  • Professional learning and innovative pedagogies to engage students
  • School- university research learning networks
  • Schools, at risk students, interagency collaboration and community capacity building
  • Spatiality, temporality, connectivity and school redesign. 

Professor Blackmore’s work has been internationally recognised through a range of Awards, including:

  • Simon Visiting Professor, University of Manchester (2016)
  • Honorary Life Member, Australian Association of Research in Education (2015)
  • Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences of Australia (2013)
  • Alfred Deakin Professor (2012)
  • Visiting Honorary Professor, University of Nottingham, 2008-16
  • Distinguished Visiting Professor, University of Alberta, Canada (2009)
  • Critics’ Choice, American Educational Studies Association (2008) for Performing and Reforming Leaders: Gender, Educational Restructuring and Organisational Change SUNY Press (J. Blackmore and J. Sachs. 2007)
  • Visiting Professor, University of Oslo, Norway 2009
  • Visiting Professor, University of Aarhus, Denmark (2012, 2016)
  • Vice Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching and Learning 2006
  • UAE Masters’ Program Post graduate Supervisor Award 2004
  • Visiting Scholar, University of Lund, Sweden 1993
  • Visiting Scholar, University of Stockholm, Sweden 1993

Professor Blackmore has led and participated in a range of research projects funded by esteemed organisations including the Australian Research Council, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Canada, and the European Union. She has extensive high-quality publications in prestigious academic journals including: British Journal of Sociology of Education; Higher Education and Research Development; Gender and Education; Discourse; International Journal of Leadership in Education; Educational Practice and Theory.

First supervisor, Professor Louise Morley, toasts Tanja's success2. CHEER doctoral researcher makes history on viva completion
CHEER extends many congratulations to doctoral researcher, Tanja Jovanovic, who was recommended for the award of PhD on Thursday 5 July for her "highly original and engaging study", 'Roma Student Access to Higher Education in Serbia: Challenges and Promises' following a successful viva voce examination. Her external examiner was Dr Aidan McGarry from Loughborough University and her internal examiner was Professor John Pryor. Tanja's first supervisor was Professor Louise Morley and her second supervisor was Dr Linda Morrice.

Tanja is the first Roma woman from Serbia to gain a PhD in the UK. History has been made!

3. SRHE Newer Researcher Award
Dr Emily Danvers has been awarded a Society for Research into Higher Education Prize for Newer Researchers 2018 . The award brings a prize of £3000 for Emily to pursue her research on 'Prevent/ing criticality? The pedagogical impact of Prevent in UK universities'

4. Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
Dr Mariam Attia, Lecturer in Education, was awarded senior fellowship of the higher education academy for her work leading pedagogic change in the UK and internationally.

June 2018

1. Louise Morley made the keynote presentation at the ACCESS4ALL International Conference:  Institutional Change for Inclusion in Higher Education, Bucharest, Romania. She presented: Thinking Differently about the Roma in Higher Education:Beyond Sex, Slums and Special Schools, and Towards Epistemic Inclusion!
The conference marked the conclusion of an ERASMUS+ project and was attended by colleagues from across Europe including NGOs such as the influential Roma organisation Agentia Impreuna, Bucharest, teachers from schools and universities, researchers, university leaders and student organisations.

Emily presents at 'Reflecting on Professional Pathways' seminar, Manchester: 1 June 20182. Reflecting on Professional Pathways: The case for critical thinking: Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM), Manchester
Emily Danvers was an invited keynote speaker at an event on 'Reflecting on Professional Pathways: The case for critical thinking' on 1 June 2018 at the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) in Manchester. Her paper ‘Writing Into Meaning: Critical thinking and research writing’ reflected on the emotion and identity work involved in processes of thinking critically. It drew on her doctoral research as well as the Writing into Meaning research project which is a collaboration between Emily, Tamsin Hinton-Smith and Rebecca Webb. Seminar participants created poems, did some reflective writing to photos and engaged in some role play – to stimulate more creative ways to think about, and develop confidence in, their critical perspectives on their research topics.

May 2018

1. European Women Rectors' Association Conference (EWORA), Lisbon, Portugal
Louise Morley is a Scientific Advisor to EWORA based on her expertise in research on gender and higher education leadership. She attended a meeting of the Scientific Advisory Board, made a presentation, and ran the workshop Imagining the Gender-Free University of the Future for women rectors on her international research findings at the conference on Change Management and Resistance held in Lisbon, Portugal. The event was attended by women rectors (vice-chancellors) and vice-rectors (pro vice-chancellors) from around Europe, including Armenia, Belgium, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the UK.

Some key proposals for change included:

  1. EWORA to run a Summer School for women aspiring to senior leadership positions- possibly in conjunction with the Godess Institute, Hanken Institute, Helsinki, Finland.
  2. EWORA to produce an impact document for use in national locations e.g. with Higher Education Councils, UUK etc. This document would provide at-a-glance key messages that EWORA is asking them to consider in relation to the promotion and support of more women in senior leadership positions.
  3. EWORA to produce an annotated bibliography of research on gender and higher education.
  4. EWORA to establish national links to promote its work with key policy and professional organisations.

2. Alison Kearney, Associate Professor within the Equity Through Education Centre at Massey University in New Zealand, visited CHEER. We discussed how questions of equity compare across geographic and sector contexts and shared together our perspectives on the value of research centres focusing on this topic. We hope to develop future collaborations together.

3. New Report: Women Professors as Intellectual Leaders
CHEER Associate  Professor Bruce Macfarlane from the University of Bristol has recently published a report for the Leadership Foundation on Women Professors as Intellectual Leaders. This report highlights the under-representation of women in professorial roles in higher education institutions and considers why this gap exists and what might be done to challenge it. Key recommendations include considering the importance of ‘academic housework’ to ensure such labour is valued across the board.

4. Research Students' Mental Health and Wellbeing
Two of CHEER’s doctoral researchers - Yasser Kosbar and Paul Roberts - are helping to steer one of only 17 bids funded by Research England on ‘Supporting mental health and wellbeing for postgraduate research students’. The project, which will be formally launched at the University of Sussex’s Festival of Doctoral Research (26–28 June), will focus on prevention and early intervention in relation to the mental health of doctoral researchers at Sussex. As part of the project, there is an online survey open to doctoral researchers across the UK, which will remain open until the end of July 2018. 
The Doctoral School has more information about the project. 
Contact Paul Roberts if you are interested in bidding or funding research projects in this area.

5. Louise Morley made the keynote presentation: Entangling Gender and Neoliberalism in the Global Academy at the STEM Gender Gap Symposium, New York University, Abu Dhabi. The Symposium brought together researchers, activists, ministers and community organisations from across the globe to discuss and theorise why women are under-represented in the STEM disciplines globally, but well-represented in the Middle East and North African (MENA) regions. A range of practices and research findings were shared, and some major questions posed about why this topic is thought to be of importance.

April 2018

1. Louise Morley made the keynote presentation Women and Higher Education Leadership: An Object of Desire or Something to be Avoided? at the Royal University for Women Conference Women and Society: Empowering Women through Higher Education in Bahrain. This international conference was under the patronage of the Minister of Education and Chair of the Higher Education Council, and was attended by policymakers, community organisations, students and academics from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and beyond.

2. Emily Danvers presented at the British Sociological Association on some scoping research into the Prevent anti-terrorism duty and its impact on higher education teaching and learning. The presentation was entitiled ‘Prevent/ing Criticality? Critical Thinking in the Politics Classroom’.

3. Emily Danvers, Tamsin Hinton-Smith and Rebecca Webb have had an article published on their work facilitating a doctoral writing group: ‘Power, pedagogy and the personal: feminist ethics in facilitating a doctoral writing group’. More information on the ‘Writing into Meaning’ group on which it was based can be found on the Writing Into Meaning blog.

Louise in Gothenburg: 20184. A new article from the research conducted during Louise Morley's Guest Professorship at the University of Gothenburg has just been published by Taylor & Francis: Re-purposing fika: rest, recreation or regulation in the neoliberalized Swedish university?

Free eprints are also available from Taylor & Francis Online.

March 2018

Paul Roberts with Dr Anupam Pachauri1. Opportunities for a CHEER doctoral researcher from India to South Africa - by Paul Roberts
This past month was exceptional. I had the pleasure of presenting in India at an ‘International Seminar on Quality and Excellence in Higher Education' 22–23 February 2018 organised by the Centre for Policy Research in Higher Education of the National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration (NIEPA) and the British Council of India. The seminar was convened by Dr Anupam Pachauri, a University of Sussex PhD alum. The event provided a fascinating insight into India’s rapidly growing higher education system and I am hopeful that discussions at the conference will continue (keep an eye on the CHEER website for more news!).  The trip to India was followed by an invitation from Universities UK International to be part of a delegation to South Africa for a doctoral training workshop ffrom 7-9 March.  Again, there were a series of stimulating conversations and presentations on re-imagining doctoral education in South Africa.  The support and guidance of CHEER colleagues has given me the confidence and knowledge required to contribute to such events.  A particular thanks to my supervisors Professor Louise Morley and Dr Barbara Crossouard.

2. This month saw the launch of the first post in a new CHEER blog on ‘The Silence/ing of Academic Women’ by CHEER Associate, Sarah Jane Aiston. The purpose of this blog is to enable a space for CHEER colleagues, visitors and guests to reflect on, critique and discuss the systems, structures, cultures, experiences and consequences of inequities within higher education. If you would like to write for ‘The (In) Equitable Academy’, please email Emily Danvers. We ask for contributors to write 800-1000 words in a research-informed but accessible style. Subjects can include reflections on completed research or that which is still in development or commentary on  higher education news or policy.

3. CHEER members Tamsin Hinton-Smith and Emily Danvers have written for the Forum for Access and Continuing Education (FACE) about the work they are seconded to do as Research and Evaluation Managers for the HEFCE-funded National Collaborative Outreach Programme. They reflect on the use of postcodes as a proxy measure of disadvantage as well as the importance of close collaboration between schools, colleges, universities and community groups to ensure young people are best supported in their educational decision making.

February 2018

See blog post by Professor Louise Morley relating to the CHEER Anniversary Seminar Does Class Still Matter? published by Times Higher Education on 4 February.

January 2018

CHEER is delighted to be participating in a new research network with Chile and Denmark. Internationalization and Knowledge Construction in Higher Education from a Gender Perspective is to be co-ordinated by Dr Ana Luisa Munoz-Garcia from the Pontifical Catholic University, Chile, and will explore the relationships between internationalization, knowledge and gender issues in higher education within a comparative framework. 
Five partner institutions are involved - three in Chile and two in Europe. The main Chilean research Centre involved is the Centre of Study for Policies and Practices in Education (CEPPE) of the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. CEPPE will work with two colleagues: one based at the Centre of Advanced Research in Education (CIAE) of the University of Chile (UCH) and another, in the EdInclusion Center at the Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaiso (PUCV). Internationally, the Centres involved will be the Centre for Higher Education and Equity Research (CHEER) at the University of Sussex, UK, and the Centre for Higher Education Futures (CHEF), Aarhus University, Denmark.

The network will involve visits by the Chilean team to CHEER, and vice versa, with the aim of co-authoring research bids and publications.

December 2017

CHEER Symposium @ SRHE Conference 2017: Affect in Academia: Policy Shadows and Perplexing Subjectivities

CHEER members presented four papers focusing on the affective economy of academia in relation to inclusion, equity and epistemic justice in higher education internationalisation (Morley), what it means to learn, as an international postgraduate student, and then power of learning to drive change (Webb), professional development in the form of coaching that attempts to engage with the ‘whole person’ in institutions dedicated to the life of the mind (Attia), and the affective challenges of recalibrating one’s academic identity through retirement – a major policy silence! (Hey).  These topics were selected as they are largely under-researched in the field of higher education studies and suggest that more nuanced explorations of the affective consequences of dominant policies are required in order to ensure sustainability, well-being and regeneration in academia.

  1. Hidden Narratives of Internationalisation: Mobility and Migrant Academics
    Professor Louise Morley
  2. Changing Learning:  Learning To Change?
    Dr Rebecca Webb
  3. Coaching in Higher Education 
    Dr Mariam Attia
  4. Retiring Subjectivities: The Affective Load of Becoming ‘Retired’: Shedding, Shredding or Recalibrating?                                            Professor Valerie Hey

The papers drew upon empirical data from CHEER’s portfolio of research projects including Higher Education, Internationalisation and Mobility (HEIM) and Higher Education, Knowledge Exchange and Policy Learning in the Asian Century: A UK/Japanese Partnership.

Theoretically, the papers invoked a diverse range of social theories including new mobilities paradigms, epistemic justice, feminist poststructuralism and critical pedagogies. The symposium was full of social science researchers at different career stages from across the globe.

CHEER cited in Times Higher Education

CHEER was mentioned in an article by David Matthews writing for Times Higher Education on 6 December on the underrepresentation of women at the top levels of research and the rise of ‘affirmative action’ on gender becoming more common. CHEER Director, Professor Louise Morley, is quoted as stating that “any positive discrimination intervention is always controversial as critics argue that it is in opposition to merit. However, when any social group is so under-represented, some focused actions are necessary." See Max Planck launches women-only recruitment drive.

November 2017

CHEER's 10th Anniversary Seminar

On 15 November, CHEER celebrated its 10th anniversary with a seminar entitled Does Class Still Matter? Conversations about Power, Privilege and Persistent Inequalities in Higher Education. As the anniversary coincided with the 20th anniversary of the publication of Pat Mahony and Christine Zmroczek’s edited collection of essays: Class Matters: "Working Class" Women's Perspectives On Social Class, CHEER celebrated the two events by bringing together late and early career researchers for creative, regenerative and productive inter-generational conversations about social class, feminisms and identities in the academy by way of 'conversations'. The conversations were broad ranging, encompassing the wider neoliberal context of higher education; persistent institutional barrier; precarity; personal life histories; intersectional academic identities; classed language and everyday experiences of the academy.

The day ended with an in-depth group discussion considering ways forward. Actions suggested included forging local, national and international alliances; working to strengthen the unions; linking more closely with wider communities; learning from national and educational contexts; challenging current funding regimes; developing more inclusive curricula; encouraging more diverse staff in HEIs; raising further questions about the value of higher education and disrupting inequitable power structures. The thoughtful and cutting edge insights, questions and reflections provided a fitting tribute to the centre’s 10 years of groundbreaking research, education, communication and events.

Professor Gloria Bonder

Professor Gloria Bonder from FLACSO (Facultad Latinoamerican de Ciencas Sociales), Argentina (http://flacso.org.ar) visited CHEER for its 10th Anniversary celebrations. As well as participating in the seminar Does Class Still Matter? Conversations about Power, Privilege and Persistent Inequalities in Higher Education on 15 November, Professor Bonder had meetings with Professor Louise Morley, Dr Barbara Crossouard, Paul Roberts and Dr Simon Thompson about future research collaborations between CHEER and FLACSO.  

Dr Gloria Bonder is the Director of the Department of Gender, Society and Policies of the Latin American Postgraduate Institute of Social Sciences (FLACSO Argentina). She coordinates two regional programmes including the UNESCO Regional Chair on Women, Science and Technology in Latin America and the e-learning master’s programme on Gender, Society and Public Policies. Bonder is the coordinator of the Global Network of UNESCO Chairs on Gender. Since 2014, she has coordinated the region’s activities in the global GenderInSITE programme, through her role as the UNESCO Regional Chair. The programme aims to influence policies and policy makers in science, technology, innovation and engineering, to integrate gender equality principles and goals.

She is a researcher and consultant on Women, Science and Technology for several national, regional and international organisations such as: Minister of Science and Technology in Argentina, United Nations, Women and Development Unit, ECLAC and the Office of Science and Technology, UNICEF, UNIFEM, UNDP and UNESCO, among others. Professor Bonder has developed research projects on gender issues and/in technology and science, education, communication, health and youth, and published books and articles both national and international. She is a member of the advisory board of UN Women for Latin America and the Caribbean and WISAT (Women in Global Science and Technology).

CHEER is delighted to have a link with Professor Bonder and FLACSO, and thoroughly enjoyed hosting her productive and creative visit.

October 2017

Louise Morley was the keynote speaker at the Effective Gender Equality in Research and Academia (EGERA) Seminar, Sciences Po, Paris, 16 October. She presented Entangling Gender and Neoliberalism in the Global Academy to scholars, researchers and policymakers from around Europe, including Marie SkÅ‚odowska-Curie's granddaughter - Hélène Langevin-Jolliot - who was at the seminar to pay tribute to Marie SkÅ‚odowska-Curie, on the occasion of her 150th anniversary with Marion Augustin and Nathalie Pigeard.

Writing Workshop: clay modelsWriting into Meaning in the Free University Brighton
Emily Danvers and Rebecca Webb delivered a community writing workshop as part of the Free University Brighton on Saturday 21 October. The workshop looked at using creative techniques to re-think academic writing practices and the clay models depicted represent each participants’ writing, and were created by a partner who listened carefully to them speak. A blog post provides further details of the event. This workshop is informed by Rebecca, Tamsin and Emily’s work on ‘Writing Into Meaning’ for which they have recently received funding from the UK Council for International Students to research the writing practices of international doctoral students. 

Exclusionary Legacies - pic1Entangling Gender in Virginia
Louise Morley was one of the keynote speakers presenting Entangling Gender and Neoliberalism in the Global Academy at the Exclusionary Legacies: Women, Gender, and Race in Higher Education 2017 Tyler Lecture Series, College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia, USA.

Exclusionary Legacies - pic2During the next two years the College of William and Mary is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the admission of African Americans to the college (2017), and the 100 year anniversary of white women’s acceptance as students (2018). This prestigious seminar addressed both of these firsts and interrogated the desegregation of higher education as it relates to women.

The three keynote speakers covered an expansive period, with Professor Louise Morley offering a transnational analyses of the current neoliberal era in higher education. Professor Mary Kelley from Michigan University, USA, focused on gender and higher education in Early America, and Professor Mia Bay from Rutgers University drew attention to 19th and 20th century developments in the United States in relation to higher education and African American women.

The seminar was part of the Tyler Distinguished Lecture Series, and was funded by a generous gift from the Tyler family. It was attended by academics, doctoral researchers and members of local civic society.

September 2017

Transformative Pedagogy Course for the Nigerian Universities Congress (NUC)
Colleagues from the Department of Education (Emily Danvers, Tamsin Hinton-Smith, Mariam Attia, Simon Thompson and Jennifer Agbaire) visited Abuja, Nigeria from 24-30th September by invitation of the Nigerian Universities Congress (NUC). They delivered a week-long intensive professional development course for 82 Nigerian university lecturers entitled ‘Transformative Higher Education Pedagogy and Practice’. This was an incredibly rich experience for Sussex colleagues in being attuned to the challenges of higher education pedagogies in different international contexts and we hope to form a lasting collaboration with the NUC and with our Nigerian colleagues who took part.

International Press Coverage:

Teaching in Turbulent Times: Challenges and Responses
A CHEER and TaLES event
Sponsored by ADQE, CHEER, Centre for Gender Studies and Global Studies
19 September 2017

This day-long workshop was an outcome of university-wide teaching and learning projects led by Dr Charlotte Morris, CHEER Research Fellow and convenor of the Education for Diversity working grioup, and Dr Liz Sage, Teaching Fellow in Teaching, Learning and Assessment in Higher Education (Academic Development & Quality Enhancement) and convenor of the TaLES series.

Taking place at the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts, the event drew 40 attendees and brought together academic staff from local universities, the wider community and beyond to reflect on some of the current challenges facing higher education (HE) and to imagine ways forward. Of particular concern was the wider political context and the particular challenges posed in the HE classroom; the impact of widespread discrimination and inequities on staff and students; seismic shifts in social, political and educational landscapes; the sense of urgency around social justice issues and the implications of such turbulence for our pedagogical practices.

The day opened with invited speakers sharing their experience and insights, leading into an open forum to identify common challenges and good practice.  Speakers included Professor Alison Phipps who spoke about her work on the Changing University Cultures project.

Keith Smyth (University of Highlands and Islands) who discussed the concept of ‘Third spaces’ in HE; Grainne Gahan, Welfare Officer for the University of Sussex Student Union; Professor Andrea Cornwall, PVC Equality and Diversity; Imani Robinson (Sussex) who is currently supporting staff in their decolonising education initiatives; Dr Sindi Gordon, Research Fellow for the Centre for the Centre for Teaching and Learning Research and Equality and Diversity representative for the School of Education & Social Work; Dr Charlotte Morris on student mental health and wellbeing and Dr Liz Sage reflecting on challenges educators face in re-thinking HE practices, with particular concerns about current precarious working conditions for many teachers in the sector.

Two workshops were held in the afternoon, offering different ways of critically assessing and imagining what education can be: Charlotte Morris led a session reflecting on the values we bring to our work as educators and Liz Sage led a ‘wandering workshop’, aimed at enabling participants to think differently about teaching spaces.  These led on to the final workshop, facilitated  by colleagues from the Technology Enhanced Learning team, wherein participants built on the discussions throughout the day to re-imagine what HE can be – both in terms of the immediate changes they can make as individual teachers, in their departments, and in broader terms for their universities and the sector. Discussions were captured via nearpad in order to feed into review processes at the University of Sussex.


CHEER at BERA: Disrupting and Disturbing Dominant Discourses in Higher Education
In this symposium held as part of the BERA (British Educational Research Association) conference on 6 September, CHEER’s researchers critically examined dominant values, vocabularies and hegemonic analyses and concepts used in higher education policy, practices and processes. The symposium was chaired by Dr Kelly Coates, King's College London, and included five papers:

Paper 1 - Professor Louise Morley, Troubling Intra-actions: Gender, Neoliberalism and Research in the Global Academy
Paper 2 - Dr Emily Danvers, Embodying Critically: Who Gets to be a Critical Thinker in Higher Education?
Paper 3  - Dr Charlotte Morris, Rethinking the Student Experience: Student Carers, Belonging and Inclusion
Paper 4 - Daniel Leyton, Desirable Subjectivities in Chilean Widening Participation Narratives
Paper 5 - Paul Roberts, Captured Minds? Graduate School Managers and the UK Doctorate

Louise Morley opened the symposium, discussing how academic research is aligned with the political economy of neoliberalism. That is, how research is valued for its commercial, market, and financial benefits. She argued that higher education’s pedagogical practices and policy discourses often take as their subject an unspecified body, failing to interrogate who these bodies are (and are not) in relation to categories of social difference, and their differentiated access to power, privilege, and opportunity structures.

Emily Danvers’ paper interrogated who occupies a ‘legitimate’ critical subjectivity as a higher education student and how such bodies are re-shaped by dominant discourses about power, authority and legitimacy. Drawing on interviews and observations of UK undergraduate social science students, she aimed to disrupts notions of disembodied critical knowers and situates the critical thinker as an embodied and contextual figure.

Charlotte Morris, in her paper, spoke back to reductionist tropes around 'the student experience' and linked discourses of 'belonging' and 'inclusion'. Drawing on empirical work conducted with student carers in the UK, she explored how constructions of students as young, autonomous, pleasure seeking individuals who are free of responsibilities and dependencies creates symbolic ‘others’ – with pedagogical, material and affective consequences.

Addressing the dominant discourses of higher education in an international context, Daniel Leyton analysed the assumptions and limits of affirmative action policies in neoliberal Chile. His paper unpacked what (and who) constitutes a desirable subjectivity within Chilean widening participation narratives. complicating and contradicting these assumptions by drawing on working class students’ own narrated experiences of higher education.

Continuing the theme of neoliberal demands on higher education policy, Paul Roberts’ paper focused on the rise of Graduate Schools in the UK in response to reform of the doctorate. He explored, the extent to which the values of neoliberalism have been internalised by Graduate School Managers  identifying moments of resistance. His paper asked whether Graduate School Managers, often depicted as the ‘agents’ of neoliberalism, are ‘captured minds’ or whether they can also be seen as active participants in questioning and critiquing and even sharing in some of its discomforts.  

Together, these papers represented a collective disruption of taken-for granted discourses and vocabularies that dominate thinking in and about higher education.