Keynote speakersKeynote speakers

Keynote speakers

Anna Smolentseva is a Senior Researcher at the Institute of Education at National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia. She 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 CSHPE at University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, and a Salzburg Global Seminar faculty. Recent books include Cantwell, B., Marginson, S., Smolentseva, A. (Eds.) High Participation Systems of Higher Education. Oxford University Press, 2018; Huisman, J., Smolentseva, A., Froumin, I. (Eds.) 25 Years of Transformations of Higher Education Systems in Post-Soviet Countries: Reform and Continuity. Palgrave, 2018. (open book) Anna Smolentseva is focusing on the changing role of higher education in societies, educational inequality, and transformations in post-Soviet higher education systems among others.

Transformation of higher education systems in post-Soviet countries: a comparative analysis

The presentation will address the question how the single Soviet institutional model that developed across the vast and diverse territory of the Soviet Union changed into fifteen national systems. It will depart from the studies on institutional diversity and conceptualisations of high participation higher education systems. It will show how two major Soviet institutional types (comprehensive university and specialised institution) over 25 years have transformed into three major types (comprehensive university, specialised university and specialised institution). In a few countries, new higher education institutional landscape was complemented by college (Soviet secondary vocational) sector. The presentation will discuss major drivers of the changes, including marketization, structural reforms, massification and the role of government and their effects on institutional diversity.

Michael Dobbins is assistant professor of policy analysis at the Goethe University of Frankfurt and interim professor of public administration at the University of Konstanz. His doctoral thesis dealt with higher education in Central and Eastern Europe. His main areas of research are higher and secondary education policy and post-communist transformation processes. He is the co-director of the research project “The Missing Link: Examining organized interests in post-communist policy-making” funded by the German DFG and Polish NCN.

Re-exploring higher education governance in Central and Eastern Europe: Re-convergence after divergence? 

The speaker addresses changes in higher education governance in Central and Eastern Europe, in particular Poland and Romania. Based on institutional isomorphism and historical institutionalism, he shows that the public higher education systems of both countries initially took a markedly different reform path after 1989. While Polish higher education by and large returned to its historical model of “academic self-rule” and resisted pressures for a stronger marketization, Romania experienced strong isomorphic orientation towards HE models primarily of Anglo-American inspiration. He argues that – after a period of marked divergence – both systems are visibly “re-converging” towards a new hybrid governance model. Unlike during the Bologna phase, where developments were largely driven by transnational policy proposals and recommendations, higher education governance has increasingly been shaped by the political economy, and in particular the situation of both countries as “dependent market economies”. Defined by the author as “state-promoted competitive Humboldtism”, the new governance model aims to (re-)embed the research mission of universities to foster home-grown research and innovations. These new hybrid constellations enable both countries to simultaneously deal with global pressures for change and liberate themselves from economic dependence on the West, while not throwing historical institutions entirely overboard. 

Janne Tienari is Professor of Management and Organization at Hanken School of Economics, Finland. He is Associate Editor of Organization and on the Editorial Board of Organization Studies. Tienari’s research and teaching interests include strategy work, gender and diversity, managing multinational corporations, mergers and acquisitions, branding and media, and changing academia. His work is published in leading organization and management studies journals such as Academy of Management Review, Organization Science, Organization Studies, Organization, Human Relations, and Journal of Management Studies.

Privatizing and merging: The making of Aalto University in Finland 

Universities across the world are subject to similar reforms and transformation. In the Finnish higher education system, interests of industry and business and universities’ impact on society are increasingly highlighted. In 2010, Aalto University was created in a merger of three universities representing different academic fields. While the merger counterparts (Helsinki School of Economics, University of Technology and  University of Arts and Design) were all public universities, the new university became a foundation under private law. Inspite of this “privatization,” state steering of universities remains strong in Finland, and a large part of the funding of all universities still comes from the state.

The making of Aalto University offers insights on the dynamics of privatization, which are accentuated in the merger context. The new university developed a forward-looking strategy, restructured its operations to serve a new innovative and interdisciplinary institutional profile and brand, and introduced an academic tenure track career system to attract top talent across the world. My talk will focus on the planning and implementation of the tenure track system as a significant vehicle in the shift to a university controlled by a private foundation. This also offers reflection on more general implications of the Aalto merger for understanding the opportunities and challenges presented by contemporary university reforms and transformation.

Marek Kwiek, professor and Director of the Center for Public Policy Studies (link:, Chairholder, UNESCO Chair in Institutional Research and Higher Education Policy, University of Poznan, Poland. Marek has been a Principal Investigator or country Team Leader in 25 international higher education research projects (funded by the European Commission; the European Science Foundation; and several international foundations). His research focus is changing university funding and governance, public sector reforms, and the academic profession. His most recent monograph is Changing European Academics: A Comparative Study of Social Stratification, Work Patterns and Research Productivity (London and New York: Routledge 2019). He published in Science and Public Policy, Scientometrics, Comparative Education Review, Higher Education, Studies in Higher Education, Journal of Studies in International Education, etc. 

The Deeply Divided Academic Profession, or Multi-Level Policy Implications of Social Stratification in Higher Education 

The academic profession is heavily internally divided: increasing vertical stratification of institutions and scientists is reshaping national systems. This study views research as a powerful academic game: not inclusive and not democratic. Research is viewed as prestige-driven, internationally competitive, at the heart of academic recognition and reward systems – and as the single most stratifying factor in the higher education enterprise. Therefore the underpinning of the stratification system in higher education is contribution to knowledge through published research. The notion of social stratification in higher education allows for a better understanding of the changing academic profession than a number of competing notions (such as globalization, managerialism, financial austerity, or commodification). A sample of European academic scientists (N = 8,466 individual cases) from 11 countries is used and the characteristics of the three distinct classes of academic scientists are analyzed: highly productive academics (“research top performers”), highly paid academics (“academic top earners”), and highly internationalized academics (”internationalists” in research). Policy implications are explored at individual, institutional and national levels - and specifically for CEEs.

Susan Harris-Huemmert is an assistant professor at the German University of Administrative Sciences Speyer, Germany, where she is working on a comparative international study of notions of space, place and identity within the higher education context. As author and joint publisher she has written extensively in German and English on many higher education research themes, notably quality assurance, evaluation and governance. While completing her DPhil at the University of Oxford on the work of evaluators of higher education in Germany she also undertook longitudinal research on the academic identity of doctoral students in the social sciences and conducted further research on behalf of the University. Susan is co-convenor of the working committee on higher education within the German Evaluation Society (DeGEval), associate fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA), trustee of the British Society for Research in Higher Education (SRHE), and senate member of her own institution.

Quality assurance in higher education: Where do we go from here?

In her talk Susan Hümmert-Harris intends to historically and comparatively review the introduction and development of quality assurance in higher education, drawing on examples from Germany, Great Britain, China, and elsewhere. This will lead in to a discussion about how she sees QA developing at present, especially with its increasing influence on university governance and strategy.