Current professional expertise
As Head of Higher Education Research and Policy Analysis at UNESCO’s International Institute for Higher Education, I lead a range of international projects including: the right to higher education, the futures of higher education, virtual student mobility, academic freedom and self-regulation of higher education governance.
I completed my PhD in Comparative & International Higher Education from the University of Toronto, Canada in 2020 (yes, I’m a Zoom doctor…). My thesis is about how and why change happens in higher education, with a focus on post-Soviet higher education systems. My PhD was funded by a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship and a Study Abroad Studentship from the UK’s Leverhulme Trust.
My thesis won the 2021 Dissertation Award from the Comparative & International Education Society Eurasia SIG; part of my doctoral research was awarded the 2018 Excellent Paper Award for an Emerging Scholar by the Knowledge Politics and Policies Standing Group of the European Consortium of Political Researchers.
I have an undergraduate MA (Hons) in Russian Studies & History from the University of Edinburgh, UK; a Postgraduate Certificate in Conflict & Development from the Open University, UK; and an MBA in Higher Education Management from the Institute of Education, UK (now University College London).
As a researcher, I explore the effects of current global shifts on education policy in comparative and international perspective. As a Research Associate at York University (Toronto, Canada), I coordinated a SSHRC-funded project on the international education-migration nexus and was the lead researcher for Canada. I also completed research for a new project on the geopolitics of international higher education.
I have also formally collaborated on research with the Centre for the Study of Canadian and International Higher Education at the University of Toronto, the Higher School of Economics (Russia)/University of Oxford, and the University of Central Asia.
Since 2011, I’ve been running a blog about education, society and politics in Central Asia. This stems from working in Central Asia for an inspiring and groundbreaking education initiative in the early 2000s plus subsequent freelance and voluntary work as well as a host of other ongoing connections in the region. My blog has been named one of The Guardian’s “best social media accounts for academics” (2016) and my blog posts have attracted attention from a wider audience, including El País, Huffington Post and Yahoo Canada.
I teach courses in higher education, education policy, and international/global studies. At graduate level, I have taught international academic relations, systems of higher education, and comparative educational theories and methods. At undergraduate level, I’ve taught large enrolment courses in critical international development students.
I support students to build their own bridges between their lived experiences and the course material through active learning processes that encompass opportunities for reflection and developing self-awareness. I’m an experienced mentor and have a career long commitment to promoting women’s professional development.
Policy analysis and consultancy
As a policy analyst and consultant, I have advised on education projects for the governments of Tajikistan (with the World Bank), Estonia and the UK, the University of Oxford, and the University of Central Asia. I managed conferences, membership and governance at the Central Eurasian Studies Society.
I am an Advisory Board member at the Centre for Global Higher Education (University of Oxford/University College London) and a founding Advisory Council member of the Oxus Society for Central Asian Affairs. I was a Board Director of the Canadian Society for the Study of Higher Education.
Higher education administration
As a higher education practitioner, I enjoyed a progressively senior career working in higher education administration and management at the University of Central Asia (Tajikistan), University of Oxford (UK) and the Institute of Education, University College London (UK) prior to starting doctoral research.
I am co-author of the book Managing your career in higher education administration (2014), part of Palgrave Macmillan’s Universities into the 21st century series.
In addition to English (my native language), I have fluent Russian, good but rusty French, beginner-intermediate Spanish and a smattering of German, Italian and Shughni.