Aarhus Universitets segl

Higher Education Futures

Om forskningsenheden

The research unit aims critically to explore the transforming position, role and organization of universities through collaborative research projects, network activities, conferences, and experiments within three interlinked and internationally grounded focal areas:

1. Shifting Ecology of Higher Education

Universities are now located in complex relationships with both private and public agencies (rankers, accreditation agencies, foundations, entrepreneurs etc.). They play an increasing role in ‘soft’ diplomacy, while international agencies and governments promote them as drivers of knowledge economies and as crucial for creating prosperous futures for students and society.  The main research questions are: How to conceptualise and analyse the new mandate for universities and the ‘space’ in which universities are operating? How are universities negotiating with and being reshaped by these diverse interests?

2. Transforming academia

In this new context, there have been extensive reforms to governance and management, research strategies and the very concept of education. Academics are faced with changing expectations about their work and identity, often embedded in new performance criteria and human resource management. How are students, academics and leaders understanding these changes and how are their responses and initiatives changing the internal life of universities?

3. Building the university of the future

Results from the first two focal areas and ideas from a wide range of alternative modes of organising in other private and public sectors will be used to debate and model the future of higher education and its organization. Through its website, projects, seminars and summer schools, the unit will use its critical research to provide students, faculty, university administrators, university leaders and the higher education policy community with an internationally linked and reflexive space for exploring sustainable and liveable higher education futures.

The research unit carries forward activities and international networks formed in the EU Marie Curie-funded projects:

It builds on previous projects on Danish reforms:

  • New Management, New Identities? Danish University Reform in an International Perspective
  • Stress, nye ledelsesformer og intervention – grænseløst arbejde i offentlige organisationer
  • ’Fremdrift og arbejdsmarkedsrelevans – nye styringsmekanismer i uddannelsessystemet’

The research unit has extensive international networks in Europe, USA, Asia, and Australasia. Its publication outlets include editorship of a ‘niveau 2’ journal, Learning and Teaching (Berghahn), two book series Anthropology of Policy (Stanford University Press) and Critical Higher Education Studies (Berghahn) as well as Working Papers in University Reform.