Award-Winning Research Led by University of Jyväskylä Researchers

The book ‘Re-Becoming Universities? Higher Education Institutions in Networked Knowledge Societies’ (Springer Press, 2016) was selected for the 2016 award recognizing a highly significant outcome in the field of international and comparative education. This award is from the Council for International Higher Education of the US-based Association for the Study of Higher Education.

The book was based on the study ‘Change in Networks, Higher Education and Knowledge Societies’ (CINHEKS), a six country comparative study, coordinated and supported by the European Science Foundation and funded by the national scientific funding agencies of participating countries and universities located in Finland, Germany, Portugal, UK, USA and Russia.

The book was co-edited by David M. Hoffman and Jussi Välimaa, members of the Higher Education Studies Research Team at the Finnish Institute for Educational Research, University of Jyväskylä, Finland. The award will be presented November 10th, in Columbus, Ohio, USA at the annual conference of ASHE.

While Finland is often mentioned in international discussion of assessments of student learning outcomes, like the OECD PISA survey, Hoffman underlines a sharp distinction between top-down, policy-driven and increasingly criticized assessments like PISA and the research receiving this award.

“Our book is an example of critical, counterintuitive, curiosity-driven research relevant to society’s most urgent challenges. What goes on in universities shapes – and is shaped by – what is going on in society. While this is not new information, our team’s work explains this complex relationship in ways that make it possible to comparatively problematize many issues policy makers and scholars increasingly avoid. The most important of these is the role higher education plays in increasing inequalities across several societies. Our book fills an important gap pointed out by international scholars like Simon Marginson, Susan Robertson, Riyad Shahjahan, Jenny Lee, Gary Rhoades, Shelia Slaughter, Brendan Cantwell, Terri Kim and Heinz Dieter-Meyer, who claim, in different ways, policy actors and scholars often cause or complicate social issues we should be studying and solving. Our book provides a new approach to re-thinking unquestioned assumptions that are not very difficult to locate using tools we are making freely available in our book. In more plain words, many government officials, university leaders and scholars spend too much time focused on their image, reputation, rankings and careers instead of tackling challenges. Society pays the price. This is not the same as saying there is not a lot of excellent scholarship and innovation going on, there is. However, there is also a lot of drama, dressed up as scholarship. Our book explains how to distinguish between the former, the latter and the real differences cutting across countries, universities, programs and faculty when it comes to the relationship between society and universities.” 

In the letter of notification about this award, Hoffman and Välimaa were told “The CIHE Awards Committee is impressed by the extent of outstanding scholarship developed in this volume, along with its wide range of contributions to theory, policy, and practice. The Awards Committee applauds ‘Re-Becoming Universities? Higher Education Institutions in Networked Knowledge Societies’ for a truly exemplary effort to analyze higher education in its relation to society in a comparative perspective bringing together original disciplinary approaches and rich empirical data.”

The CINHEKS study was focused on the ways in which contemporary higher education institutions are networked within and between countries and what this means for contemporary societies. Hoffman, who will accept the award on behalf of the 20 authors who authored the 13-chapter study, said that the book breaks new ground in research design, the development of theory, advances in methodology, methods, research practices, open science and in terms of empirical results.

For more information:

Book Information:

David M. Hoffman & Jussi Välimaa (Eds.): Re-Becoming Universities? Higher Education Institutions in Networked Knowledge Societies. Springer 2016.


Key Facts 

  • This book is based on a six country (Finland, Germany, Portugal, UK, USA & Russia) comparative study carried out within the EUROCORES/EuroHESC (Higher Education and Social Change) research program, coordinated by the European Science Foundation. Four comparative research projects were funded in this program.
  • The original title of the funded research project was Change in Networks, Higher Education and Knowledge Societies or (CINHEKS).
  • CINHEKS was led and coordinated by the Finnish Institute for Educational Research at the University of Jyväskylä, FINLAND
    • The Project Leader of CINHEKS was Co-PI Professor Jussi Välimaa.
    • The Project Manager was Co-PI Docent (Senior Researcher) David M. Hoffman
  • CINHEKS Partners were from leading research units specialized in higher Education Studies including:
    • International Center for Higher Education Research (INCHER-Kassel), Kassel University, GERMANY
    • Center for Innovation, Technology and Policy Research (IN+), Instituto Superior Técnico, University of Lisbon, Lisbon, PORTUGAL
    • The Institute of Education, National Research University, Higher School of Economics, RUSSIA
    • The former Centre for Higher Education Research and Information, The Open University, UK
    • The Center for the Study of Higher Education, University of Arizona, USA
  • The total funding of this research obtained from five national funding agencies involved was in excess of one million EUROS, in addition to the self-funded participation of the Higher Scholl of Economics (Russia).
  • Of the four research projects funded by EUROCORES/EuroHESC, only CINHEKS sought out and obtained cooperation from universities outside Europe.
  • The funding agencies coordinating and supporting this project were:
    • European Science Foundation: EUROCORES research program
    • The Academy of Finland (Finland),
    • The Economic and Social Research Council (UK),
    • Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia  (Portugal),
    • Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (Germany) and the
    • National Science Foundation (USA)
  • Book Design
    • The Book is divided into three parts
      • Part I: Theory, Design and Context (Four Chapters)
      • Part II: Empirical Studies, including two comparative chapters and six case studies focused on the countries participating in CINHEKS (Eight chapters)
      • Part III: Comparative Findings (one chapter)
      • In addition, the book contains four appendices which will be can be used under creative a Creative Commons License for new studies and further development of the tools and approaches developed in CINHEKS (Open Science). 
    • Authors: 20 authors (See appendix below), one ICT consultant and one intern contributed to the textbook.

    About the Authors

    1)      Dr. Andrea Abbas is a sociologist of education whose main interests focus on universities pedagogy, knowledge, inequality and diversity.  She is also interested in academic careers. She is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Education at the University of Bath and a member of the Learning, Pedagogy and Diversity research cluster. She is co-author of a forthcoming book entitled Quality in Undergraduate Education Work: How Powerful Knowledge Disrupts Inequality to be published by Bloomsbury.  She is co-investigator in a collaborative project exploring the value of taught postgraduate masters to students, universities and employers with colleagues from 10 UK higher education institutions. She is also working with colleagues on a collaborative project which is exploring the experiences of early career academics in the arts and social sciences over a period of six years.  Her work draws upon diverse methodologies and critical sociological theories.

    2)      Dr. Brigida Blasi is an official at the Italian National Agency for University and Research Evaluation. In this position, Dr. Blasi is responsible for the evaluation of quality in higher education institutions. Her works focuses on on-site visits coordination for institutions and programs peer review and on elaboration of big quantitative datasets on research, teaching, third mission and administration of Italian universities. Her research interests span various aspects of higher education, especially public policy, financial and human resources, research group dynamics, research assessment in social sciences, teaching quality assessment, third mission evaluation methods. After receiving her PhD in Research in Social Sciences from the University of Rome Sapienza in 2009, she has been post-doc fellow at Center for Innovation, Technology and Policy Research (IN+) in Portugal.

    3)      Dr. John Brennan is Emeritus Professor of Higher Education Research at the Open University and a Visiting Professor at the London School of Economics, the University of Bath and London Metropolitan University.  A sociologist by background, his interests lie broadly in the area of higher education and social change. For nearly 20 years, he directed the Centre for Higher Education Research and Information at the Open University where he led and participated in many national and international projects on topics such as graduate employment, quality assurance, student learning, the academic profession, and universities and social transformation. He has published several books and many reports and articles on higher education and its changing relationship with society and has spoken at countless conferences in the UK and many other parts of the world. Before joining the Open University in 1992, he had been Director of Quality Support at the UK Council for National Academic Awards and had held academic posts at Lancaster University and Teesside Polytechnic. He is a Fellow of the UK Society for Research into Higher Education and a Key Expert for the European Commission for whom he has undertaken recent projects on ‘Innovation in Higher Education’ and ‘Universities and Research Organisations as drivers of ‘smart specialisation’ for regional development’.

    4)      Amy Ewen received her Master's in Higher Education Management at the Universität Kassel in Germany and was fortunate to have the opportunity to work on the CINHEKS research project in the International Center for Higher Education Research (INCHER-Kassel).  She is also a co-founder of the Organization for Higher Education Research, Collaboration and Development (OCIDES).  Her areas of interest and expertise are internationalization of institutions and curricula and outcomes assessments. She is currently a Study Abroad Program Manager at Johnson & Wales University in Providence Rhode Island, USA.

    5)      Dr. David M. Hoffman is a Senior Researcher at the Finnish Institute for Educational Research. Dr. Hoffman’s role in the CINHEKS study was project manager and lead editor. Dr. Hoffman’s scholarly agenda is focused on the global division of scholarly labor, the nature of social stratification within academe and the implications this both of these have across contemporary societies. Specific interests include emergent leadership challenges within higher education, in general and issues of social justice, in particular structural challenges linked to equity, ethnic relations and migration. Dr. Hoffman’s work is transdisciplinary and characterized by critically problematized, comparatively viable research design and conceptual-level work aimed at methodological and empirical traction on social reproduction, transformation and the role education plays in both.

    6)      Dr. Hugo Horta is a Portuguese scholar with an international, non-linear multidisciplinary path. He is currently based at the Faculty of Education at the University of Hong Kong. Part of his PhD was spent in the US and in The Netherlands. After a postdoctoral spell of two years in Japan, he worked in the Portuguese government, was nominated national delegate in the European Commission on human resources and mobility, and held the position of researcher and deputy-director at the Center for Innovation, Technology and Policy Research (IN+) in Portugal. He is currently one of the coordinating editors of Higher education (Springer) and sits in the editorial board of several journals including Higher Education Policy and Asia-Pacific Education Review. His main areas of interest are on overlapping issues of science policy and higher education, particularly in researchers’ careers, behaviors, productivity and networking.

     7)      Dr. Aurelia Kollasch is a Senior Research Analyst at the Department of Residence at Iowa State University, regularly analyzing the intersection of institutional data, predictive models, and current trends to inform policy and practice. In this position, Dr. Kollasch is responsible for obtaining and analyzing data related to academic success, and providing leadership for developing systematic approaches to assessing efficacy of interventions and programs designed to increase student academic retention and satisfaction with residential experience. Her research interests range from faculty collaboration/productivity and partnership building among higher education institutions to the bridging of social capital theory with social network analysis.

    8)      Dr. Anna Kosmützky is assistant professor at the International Center for Higher Education Research (INCHER-Kassel), Kassel University. At INCHER she is responsible for the research area ‘Change of Knowledge,’ which comprises research and research projects related to the knowledge production of universities. She is an expert in international comparative research and her research interests include higher education research, (social) science studies, and organizational studies with a focus on methodological issues of qualitative and quantitative research methods. 

    9)      Dr. Jenny J. Lee is a Professor at the Center for the Study of Higher Education at the University of Arizona.  She has produced over sixty publications in the field of higher education, including research on organizational cultures, academic and administrative labor, and US and international students.  Her research on international student mobility in the US, Mexico, and Korea over the past decade has been published in the top journals of higher education and cited widely in the US and abroad. She has served as an honorary visiting scholar to South Korea and the United Kingdom.  She was also a Fulbright scholar to South Africa, examining student mobility in Sub-Saharan Africa, with visiting appointments at the University of Pretoria and the University of Cape Town.  Dr. Lee has also been appointed as a Global Professor at Korea University.  

    10)   Dr. Brenda Little is an independent higher education consultant, and was formerly a Principal Policy Analyst with the Open University’s Centre for Higher Education Research and Information. She has undertaken numerous externally-funded higher education policy-related studies over a career spanning twenty five years. Her main research interests focus on themes of links between higher education and work, and more specifically work-based learning and graduate employability within the broader field of higher education and the knowledge society. She has published several journal articles and book chapters on these topics.

    11)   Dr. Terhi Nokkala is a Senior Researcher at the Finnish Institute for Educational Research (FIER), University of Jyväskylä. Her research focuses on the interplay between higher education policy, technological developments, organisational parameters and networks, and individual experiences in various aspects of higher education, with specific interest in internationalisation, research collaboration and university autonomy; and she has published several articles and book chapters in leading publication outlets in the field of higher education. Prior to joining the FIER in June 2010, Terhi Nokkala worked as a Research Fellow at Centre for Research in Social Simulation at the University of Surrey with research related to research collaboration networks. She has also worked as a visiting researcher at the Centre for Higher Education Policy Studies (CHEPS), University of Twente; Graduate School of Education, University of Bristol and the Austrian Institute of Technology. Terhi received her PhD in Higher Education from the University of Tampere in 2007.

    12)   Dr. Vassiliki Papatsiba is Senior Lecturer in Higher Education Studies at the University of Sheffield. She is the Deputy director of the Centre for the Study of Higher Education and Co-director of Doctoral Degrees in the School of Education. Vassiliki Papatsiba's current research focuses on three areas: Research collaboration, academic agendas of knowledge generation and public policies; Universities, their communities and networks within Knowledge societies; Internationalisation in Higher Education; Academic Mobility. Vassiliki Papatsiba held an EU Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship at the University of Oxford (2005-2008). She received one of the 21 ESF leading young scholars awards on the theme of "Disciplines and Borders: Humanities Research in an age of Inter-disciplinarity" (ESF Humanities Spring 2007). Her doctoral research on EU policies and student experiences of mobility within the Erasmus programme (2002, University of Paris X-France), received the second prize for best thesis in social sciences in 2002 in France. 

    13)   Dr. Gary Rhoades is Professor and Director of the University of Arizona’s Center for the Study of Higher Education. Rhoades’ research focuses on the restructuring of academic professions and institutions, as in Managed professionals: Unionized faculty and restructuring academic labor (SUNY Press, 1998) and (with Sheila Slaughter) Academic capitalism and the new economy (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004).  Since doing a postdoc in the early 1980s with Bob Clark in his Comparative Higher Education Research Groups at UCLA, Rhoades has engaged in comparative work concentrated primarily in the European context.

     14)   Dr. Cecilia Rios-Aguilar is Associate Professor of Education and Director of the Higher Education Research Institute in the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at the University of California Los Angeles.  Dr. Rios-Aguilar’s research is multidisciplinary and uses a variety of conceptual frameworks—funds of knowledge and the forms of capital—and of statistical approaches—regression analysis, multilevel models, structural equation modeling, GIS, and social network analysis—to study the educational and occupational trajectories of under-represented minorities. Dr. Rios-Aguilar has published her work in several journals, including Teachers College Record, Language Policy, Community College Review, and the Journal of Latinos and Education. Most recently, Dr. Rios-Aguilar and her colleague Dr. Regina Deil-Amen, received funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to conduct the first study to assess how community colleges adopt and use social media technology for strategic purposes. The three-year national project will explore the relevance of social media technology to engage students, build connections, and improve outcomes within community colleges.

    15)   Dr. Mala Singh is currently Professor Extraordinaire at Rhodes University, South Africa. She was formerly Professor of International Higher Education Policy in the Centre for Higher Education Research and Information (CHERI) at the Open University, United Kingdom. She was the founding Executive Director of the Higher Education Quality Committee of the Council on Higher Education in South Africa. She has a doctorate in philosophy and has published in the fields of philosophy, and higher education and social change. She is a member of the Academy of Science of South Africa, the Board of the National Research Foundation in South Africa, and has served on various UNESCO committees on higher education and research. She is on the editorial boards of Higher Education Policy and the Journal of Higher Education in Africa. She is a member of the Council of the United Nations University in Tokyo, serves on the Hong Kong Council for Accreditation of Academic and Vocational Qualifications and has been a member of the European Register Committee. She has been a Fulbright Scholar at the New School for Social Research in New York and a Research Fellow at the Steinhardt Institute for Higher Education Policy at New York University. In 2014 she was awarded « the Charles and Monique Morazé Prize», established recently by the Fondation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, Paris and granted in recognition of innovative work on the issues of Education and Society.

    16)   Dr. Anna Smolentseva is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Education at National Research University – Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia. She is a sociologist focusing on the changing role of higher education in societies, issues of globalization, educational inequality, the academic profession, and transformations in Post-Socialist higher education systems. Smolentseva received a PhD degree in sociology from Moscow State University and has been a US National Academy of Education/Spencer postdoctoral fellow, recipient of a Fulbright New Century Scholar grant, visiting scholar at the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, and a Salzburg Global Seminar faculty. She is an author of the over forty publications in international and Russian scholarly journals and books. Her work mostly deals with the dynamics of higher education in Russia and Post-Soviet countries in a comparative perspective. She has organized and led three international interdisciplinary summer schools on higher education research in St. Petersburg in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

    17)   Dr. Sofia Branco Sousa is a post doc researcher at Center for Social Studies of the University of Coimbra in the field of Higher Education Studies and Sociology of Science. She is particularly interested in knowledge production and academic profession, using discourse analysis theory and method. She is involved with several national and international research projects and is an author of national and international papers and book chapters.

    18)   Dr. Ulrich Teichler has been professor at the University of Kassel, Germany, from 1978 to 2013 and for many years director of the International Centre for Higher Education Research (INCHER-Kassel). He spent extended research periods in Japan and the Netherlands and was part-time or visiting professor for extended periods at universities in the U.S., Japan, Belgium, Germany and for short periods in five other countries. He coordinated various comparative research projects; his more than 1,000 publications deal notably with graduate employment and work, higher education systems, international cooperation and mobility, the academic profession, and the state of higher education research. He summarized his key concepts in the books Systems of Higher Education (2007) and Higher Education and the World of Work (2009), both published by Sense Publishers, Rotterdam. He is member and had coordination functions in the International Academy of Education (IAE) and of the Academia Europaea (AE), former chairman of the Consortium of Higher Education Researchers (CHER), former president and distinguished member of EAIR, vice president and fellow of the Society for Research into Higher Education (SRHE), and honourable member of the Gesellschaft für Hochschulforschung (GfHf). He was awarded the Comenius Prize of UNESCO and the Dr. h.c. of the University of Turku.

    19)   Dr. Blanca Torres-Olave is an Assistant Professor at Loyola University Chicago. Prior to this appointment, she spent close to 15 years immersed in the postsecondary systems of Mexico, Canada, and the United States, sponsored by agencies like Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT), the Mexican Council for Science and Technology (CONACYT), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the European Science Foundation (ESF). Dr. Torres-Olave has also served as tertiary education consultant for projects initiated by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the World Bank. Her research agenda seeks to amalgamate this international expertise with multidisciplinary approaches to address critical aspects of stratification and inequality in higher education. Her current work focuses on the labor dynamics and outcomes for STEM graduates in the New Economy from both domestic and international perspectives.

    20)   Dr. Jussi Välimaa is a Professor of higher education at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland. Being trained as a historian and a social scientist Jussi Välimaa has expertise in social studies of higher education. His research expertise covers the topics from the history of universities to academic work, to disciplinary cultures and to the relationship between higher education and society. His comparative research interests have focus on the relationships between higher education institutions and knowledge societies in USA and Europe. Dr. Välimaa is joint editor-in-chief of Higher Education and active in many international and national academic organizations.

    Technical Consultants (Open Science Team)

    • Yoav Assa (ICT Consultant)
    • Andrés Emilio Fernández Vergara (Intern)