Higher Education and Society in Changing Times: looking back and looking forward

Brennan, John; Brown, Roger; King, Roger; Singh, Mala; Little, Brenda; Williams, Ruth; Branco Sousa, Sofia; Elias, Marina and Klemenčič, Manja (2011). Higher Education and Society in Changing Times: looking back and looking forward. CHERI, The Open University, London.


This is the last CHERI report. With the closure of the Centre, the tasks of researching and analysing higher education will henceforth lie with others. In the following pages, we look at some of the changes facing higher education and at the challenges they pose, both to those who work in higher education and to those who use it. The papers draw broadly on research projects and experience from within CHERI and beyond. As well as the papers prepared by CHERI researchers - John Brennan, Brenda Little, Mala Singh and Ruth Williams - the report contains papers from two of CHERI’s visiting professors - Roger Brown and Roger King. And we are particularly pleased to be able to include three contributions from a new generation of higher education researchers – Marina Elias, Manja Klemenčič and Sofia Sousa – who also bring welcome international perspectives to the report.

The sub-theme of the report is ‘looking back and looking forward’. Over its nearly 19 years of existence, CHERI has worked with some of the leading scholars in the higher education research field. And we
remember the contributions of the likes of Maurice Kogan, Ulrich Teichler, Martin Trow, Harold Silver and many more with enormous respect and gratitude and as a reminder to ourselves and to our readers that there is a substantial international body of research and scholarship on the relationship between higher education and society which is too often forgotten or ignored in current debates and policy analysis.

In 2008, CHERI led a ‘Forward Look’ on higher education for the European Science Foundation and the reports from that project attempted to provide an agenda for future research in the field, research that would be highly relevant to policy-making but not constrained or limited by it. That agenda is being implemented in the subsequent ‘Higher Education and Social Change’ research programme of the ESF and, we hope, elsewhere. While CHERI may not be around to see the results of that implementation, we wish it well and hope that its fruits will be of benefit to all those who use and are affected by higher education.

Although CHERI as a research centre is set to disappear, the experience and expertise that it has built up over the years remains and we hope will continue to contribute to research and policy analysis in higher education, both in the UK and far beyond.

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