HSE Scholars at 29 th Consortium of Higher Education Researchers Conference

The Annual Conference of the Consortium of Higher Education Researchers, CHER, is a key event in higher education research in Europe. Traditionally, CHER has attracted the best researchers and experts with a unique opportunity to learn about cutting-edge studies in the field, as well as to present their own research to the global community. This year’s conference took place from September 4 to 7, 2016, in Cambridge, England. A group of staff from the HSE Institute of Education took part in the event, including Isak FrouminIgor ChirikovMikhail LisyutkinDmitry SemyonovDaria Platonova, Ksenia Romanenko, and Tatiana Semenova.

Igor Chirikov, Director of theCentre of Sociology of Higher Education, shared his impressions of the conference: ‘I believe the CHER conference is the most authoritative European conference on higher education research. It attracts the best researchers and experts. I was particularly impressed by the panel discussion on the advantages and limitations of the existing models used to assess students’ learning outcomes in higher education’.

Chirikov spoke on ‘The Myth of Global Competition in Higher Education and Organizational Change of Russian Research Universities’. In this paper, he presented the results of a study on the impact of the 5-100 Project on structural transformations in Russian universities. The author analyzed the advantages and limitations of different approaches to studying the influence that global competition is having on universities.

The 5-100 Project, which aims to increase the international competitiveness of Russian universities, was also the focus of a study conducted by Professor Isak Froumin, Academic Supervisor of the HSE Institute of Education, together with Mikhail Lisyutkin, researcher and postgraduate student at the Institute, and Igor Chirikov. Their paper – ‘From Micromanagement to Macromanagement: Principal-Agent Relationships in Higher Education’ – covered the transformations of relations between the government and universities that participate in the so-called ‘excellence initiatives’. The paper studied university-government relations in terms of how the principal functions are distributed between them (including a historical perspective).

A key issue for higher education policy researchers is why reforms in different countries lead to different results. This issue was discussed by Dmitry Semyonov, Head of the Laboratory for University Development, in his paper ‘Borrowing Concepts And Structures: Policy Patterns In Post-Soviet Higher Education’. The research was based on a large-scale international project studying the institutional variety of higher education systems in post-Soviet countries. The project is carried out by the Institute of Education in collaboration with over 30 experts and higher education researchers from various countries.

Tatiana Semenova, Analyst at theCentre of Sociology of Higher Education, also spoke at the conference. In commenting on the event, she said, ‘This year, the CHER conference took place in a remarkable Cambridge college, where the atmosphere tuned us to participate and communicate with colleagues. At the conference, I presented one of my studies on massive open online courses. Colleagues demonstrated interest in the practical outcomes of the research, and also gave me some advice on how I can further develop my research’.