Professor Paul AshwinHead of Department, Professor
I am a Professor of Higher Education, Head of Department and Deputy Director of the Centre for Global Higher Education. My research is focused on the educational role of higher education. I am interested in how curricula in higher education can be designed in ways that help to transform students' understanding of themselves and the world. I am also interested in the role of policies in shaping the education offered by higher education institutions. The kinds of questions that I explore in this research include: What counts as high quality teaching and learning in higher education? How is this positioned in policies and practices? How do we research and theorise these competing notions of quality? How do we enhance the quality of education in ways that also support greater societal equality?
My research interests are focused on understanding the education that is offered by higher education institutions. My work examines the international, national and local policies and practices that determine the quality of this education and how it shapes the lives of students and contributes to societies globally.
My latest book, ‘Transforming University Education: A manifesto’, is an impassioned argument that we need to focus on the educational, rather than economic, purposes of university degrees if they are to have a transformational impact on students and societies. You can watch the launch of this book here.
I am also the lead author on the recently published second edition of Reflective Teaching in Higher Education, which is written by an international team to support the development of research-informed university teaching. I discuss transforming university teaching in this keynote presentation
I am Deputy Director of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funded Centre for Global Higher Education (CGHE). CGHE is a partnership between seven UK and nine international universities with its headquarters at the University of Oxford
As part of CGHE, I am leading a project that examines Understanding Knowledge Student Agency in Chemistry and Chemical Engineering in England, South Africa and the United States. This project involves researchers from Lancaster, University of Cape Town, Stellenbosch University, and Virginia Tech. We have studied Chemistry and Chemical Engineering students through their undergraduate degrees. In the follow-on Graduate Experiences of Employability and Knowledge (GEEK) Project, we are examining the same students’ experiences after completing their degrees.
As part of CGHE, I led an ESRC/National Research Foundation funded International Centre Partnership with Jenni Case, University of Cape Town. This partnership brought together established and emerging researchers from South Africa, the UK and internationally to examine access to, students’ experiences of, and outcomes from South African undergraduate higher education. We edited an open access book based on the outcomes of the project called ‘Higher Education Pathways: South African Undergraduate Education and the Public Good’
The Understanding Knowledge and Student Agency project builds on a previous ESRC funded project looking at quality and inequality in undergraduate Sociology degrees, which I worked on with Monica McLean, University of Nottingham and Andrea Abbas, University of Bath. We published a book based on the outcomes of this project entitled ‘How Powerful Knowledge Disrupts Inequality’
I am a co-ordinating editor of Higher Education, the leading Higher Education research journal, and co-editor, with Manja Klemencic, of the Bloomsbury book series 'Understanding Student Experiences of Higher Education'.
Before coming to Lancaster, I spent four years researching students' experiences of learning at the Institute for the Advancement of University Learning, University of Oxford and, before that, seven years implementing and researching peer learning at Newham College of Further Education.
I am interested in how curricula in higher education can be designed in ways that help to transform students' understanding of themselves and the world. I am also interested in the role of policies in shaping the education offered by higher education institutions. The kinds of questions that I explore in this research include: What counts as high quality teaching and learning in higher education? How is this positioned in policies and practices? How do we research and theorise these competing notions of quality? How do we enhance the quality of education in ways that also support greater societal equality?
PhD Supervision Interests
I am interested in receiving PhD proposals in most areas related to knowledge, curriculum, teaching, learning and assessment in higher education, particularly those relating to students' and academics' experiences of higher education.
Transforming University Education: A manifesto
Ashwin, P. 17/09/2020 London : Bloomsbury Academic. 176 p. ISBN: 9781350157231.
Reflective Teaching in Higher Education
Ashwin, P., Boud, D., Calkins, S., Coate, K., Hallett, F., Light, G., Luckett, K., MacLaren, I., Martensson, K., McArthur, J., McCune, V., McLean, M., Tooher, M. 20/02/2020 Second Edition ed. London : Bloomsbury Academic. ISBN: 9781350084667, 9781350084674.
Locating Social Justice in Higher Education Research
McArthur, J., Ashwin, P. 19/03/2020 London : Bloomsbury Academic. 232 p. ISBN: 9781350086753.
Quality in Undergraduate Education: How Powerful Knowledge Disrupts Inequality
McLean, M., Abbas, A., Ashwin, P.W.H. 28/12/2017 London : Bloomsbury Academic. 272 p. ISBN: 9781474214490. Electronic ISBN: 9781474214506.
Conceptualising transformative undergraduate experiences: a phenomenographic exploration of students’ personal projects
Ashwin, P.W.H., Abbas, A., McLean, M. 12/2016 In: British Educational Research Journal. 42, 6, p. 962-977. 16 p.
How does completing a dissertation transform undergraduate students’ understandings of disciplinary knowledge?
Ashwin, P.W.H., Abbas, A., McLean, M. 2017 In: Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education. 42, 4, p. 517-530. 14 p.
Newer researchers in higher education: policy actors or policy subjects?
Ashwin, P., Deem, R., McAlpine, L. 21/10/2016 In: Studies in Higher Education. 41, 12, p. 2184-2197 . 14 p.
Researcher creations?: the positioning of policy texts in higher education research
Ashwin, P., Smith, K. 06/2015 In: Higher Education. 69, 6, p. 1007-1018. 12 p.
Missionary zeal: some problems with the rhetoric, vision and approach of the AHELO project
Ashwin, P. 5/10/2015 In: European Journal of Higher Education. 5, 4, 8 p.
Representations of a high-quality system of undergraduate education in English higher education policy documents
Ashwin, P., Abbas, A., McLean, M. 2015 In: Studies in Higher Education. 40, 4, p. 610-623. 14 p.
How do students’ accounts of sociology change over the course of their undergraduate degrees?
Ashwin, P., Abbas, A., McLean, M. 02/2014 In: Higher Education. 67, 2, p. 219-234. 16 p.
The meanings of student engagement: implications for policies and practices
Ashwin, P., Mcvitty, D. 2015 In: The European higher education area. Cham : Springer p. 343-359. 17 p.
How often are theories developed through empirical research into higher education?
Ashwin, P. 12/2012 In: Studies in Higher Education. 37, 8, p. 941-955. 15 p.
Analysing teaching-learning interactions in higher education : accounting for structure and agency.
Ashwin, P. 02/2009 London : Continuum. 174 p. ISBN: 9780826494184.
Centre for Global Higher Education 2020-2023
12/11/2020 → 11/11/2023
Social Justice and Quality in Higher Education
01/05/2019 → …
Understanding Knowledge, Curriculum and Student Agency
01/10/2016 → 30/09/2020
HEA Enhancement Policy Review
06/05/2013 → 28/02/2014
Engaging non traditional students for retention and success
01/01/2013 → 30/04/2016
Pedagogic quality and inequality in university first degrees
01/11/2008 → 30/10/2011
Centre for Engaged Global Higher Education (CGHE)
01/01/1900 → …
Higher Education (Journal)
Higher Education Close-Up 5
Participation in conference
- Centre for Higher Education Research and Evaluation
- Centre for Social Justice and Wellbeing in Education