CIES

Mapping change in former Soviet higher education systems

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Emma_presenting_mapping-change_Mar2018_CIES
Me in action presenting at the Comparative and International Education Society’s 2018 conference in Mexico City. My ‘presenter hands’ are marginally more controlled than usual!

I recently presented at the Comparative and International Education Society (CIES) Annual Conference and this blog post is about my presentation called Mapping change in former Soviet higher education systems: A view from the Russophone space.

I also presented with my colleague Hayfa Jafar on our new joint research on how faculty in post-conflict societies are experiencing internationalization in higher education – watch out for more on this to follow in the future.

As part of my PhD thesis on how higher education in the former Soviet space has responded to the fall of the Soviet Union, I want to include some analysis of how academics who have published about this regional space and time have conceptualized change.

In planning that analysis, I noticed that we know a lot about how authors writing in English conceptualize change in the former Soviet space – whether we like it or not, English is the dominant language of academic publication and there are quantitatively more articles and books available in English.

Yet my research is about a space where Russian has been the dominant language of the academic community. So this led me to wonder: do authors writing in Russian and publishing in Russian academic journals think about and write about change in similar or different ways? And how much do we know about this in the English language space?

(Spoiler alert. The brief answers are a) that there are both important similarities and marked differences, and b) not very much at all)

That explains the context to the analysis I then undertook of 23 articles written in Russian published in Russian language peer-reviewed journals published since 1991 (a list of the articles and journals can be found in my presentation). All the authors write about Russian higher education and were based at Russian institutions at the time of writing.

There are many possible ways to present what I found in this analysis (and I thank my supervisor and his research group for their feedback as I went through this process) but I decided to summarize my findings using a chronological but non-linear map. You can see it in the background of the photo above, and in full below.

The purpose of the map, which is designed like a Venn diagram, was not only to highlight some of the key themes that emerged from my analysis, but to show how these themes changed or overlapped over time.

The three phases shown are based on a framework adapted from Semyonov and Platonova’s work on policy change in higher education in Russia since 1991. They explain the three phases as:

  • Laissez-faire, from 1991 to around 2003. Although there were legislative changes, on the whole this period is considered to be one less government intervention in higher education, not least because of widespread economic crisis;
  • A period of major reform, from around 2004 to 2011. State investment in higher education led to the introduction of the Bologna Process and a unified higher education entrance exam, plus reforms to create merged and enlarged ‘super-institutions’ – the federal universities, plus the new designation of national research university;
  • Since 2012, a period epitomized by reforms aiming to improve the effectiveness of higher education through e.g. performance evaluations, competitive funding schemes, and more mergers/new institutional types emerging.

Sabzalieva_Mapping-change_Venn_Phases-of-change

My analysis showed broad convergence with Semyonov and Platonova’s findings with several notable differences. I discussed four of these in my presentation. Here’s a very brief summary:

  1. Whereas for the state, the first period might have been laissez-faire, for the people living in Russia and working in the higher education system, their response was more connected to a discourse of crisis and survival.
  2. A number of articles in the first two time periods talked about how change wasn’t happening, and in fact there was more continuity with the Soviet system. Higher education is shown in many articles as being on the sidelines of the social change happening around it.
  3. In the crossover between the two later periods, I noted that some of the articles observed contradictions in the reform process, particularly in relation to the introduction of the Bologna Process
  4. Across all three phases, there is a lot of discussion about faculty: what is their role, how should they and are they responding to change, and so on. It wasn’t surprising to find more coverage of faculty matters in the Russian articles as most are written by practising academics who are or have been in some way involved in what’s been happening in Russian higher education.

This analysis will eventually form part of my PhD thesis so I don’t have a standalone paper to share. However, if you’re interested in finding out more, I’ve uploaded my presentation to Research Gate – although do note that my presentations are highly visual, so there are not many words to read! The presentation also has a few bonus slides that I didn’t share during the conference. Also, please do leave comments after this post if there are things you’d like to say in response.

 

One week to go: Webinar on higher education in Eurasia

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503e396b4a6eb6f97c00f99605842f5cNo plans yet for Wednesday January 31st?

Oh, you have plans?

Time to cancel them and join us for a free webinar on higher education transformations in Eurasia!

The time depends on where you are in the world… It will be: 09.30 New York/Toronto time, which is 14.30 London time, which is 21.30 Astana time, and so on.

You can access the webinar at https://join.freeconferencecall.com/eurasiasig. Once you reach this webpage, enter your name and email address and click the Join button. And you’re in!

Presentations/talks will be given by:

Aliya Kuzhabekova, Nazarbayev University, Kazakhstan

Dariya Platonova, Higher School of Economics National Research University, Russia

and me! I’ll be talking about my new research on how academics are responding to European higher education reforms in Tajikistan.

Our moderator is the extremely experienced Martha Merrill of Kent State University in the US.

The webinar has been organized by the Eurasia Special Interest Group of the Comparative & International Education Society.

It is the first in a new planned series of scholarly talks aiming primarily to engage members around the year but also to share our work and research with a broader community of interested Eurasia watchers.

See you next week!

Free webinar on higher education transformations in Eurasia

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Happy new year to all my blog readers – all 1,000+ of you! I hope 2018 has started well for you, wherever you are in the world and whatever your plans are for this year.

This-presentation-will-69941f
Also starting as I mean to go on with more cat memes. They may look frivolous, but they get your attention! All part of the master plan…

I am looking forward to continuing to share news and reflections on the wonderful world of education, society and politics in Central Asia, and start as I mean to go on by inviting you to join a forthcoming webinar on
higher education transformations in Eurasia.

It’s completely free to attend (virtually) and will be held on Wednesday January 31st.

The time depends on where you are in the world! It will be: 09.30 New York/Toronto time, which is 14.30 London time, which is 21.30 Astana time, and so on.

You can access the webinar at https://join.freeconferencecall.com/eurasiasig. Once you reach this webpage, enter your name and email address and click the Join button. And you’re in!

Presentations/talks will be given by:

Aliya Kuzhabekova, Nazarbayev University, Kazakhstan

Dariya Platonova, Higher School of Economics National Research University, Russia

and me! I’ll be talking about my new research on how academics are responding to European higher education reforms in Tajikistan.

Our moderator is the extremely experienced Martha Merrill of Kent State University in the US.

The webinar has been organized by the Eurasia Special Interest Group of the Comparative & International Education Society.

It is the first in a new planned series of scholarly talks aiming primarily to engage members around the year but also to share our work and research with a broader community of interested Eurasia watchers.

We hope that you will join us on January 31st!