Newer researchers in higher education: policy actors or policy subjects?

Paul Ashwin, Rosemary Deem, Lynn McAlpine

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In this article we explore the extent to which 42 newer researchers from several mostly European countries, working in the academic sub-field of higher education, were aware of, responded to and negotiated their careers in relation to higher education policies. Participants tended to divide into two similarly-sized groups: a group that engaged with and made strategic use of higher education policy, who we termed ‘policy actors’; and a group who felt that they were shaped by policy rather than working with it, who we termed ‘policy subjects’. These differences appeared largely to relate to our participants’ background prior to studying for their doctorate, their mode of study and the doctoral route that they were following. All of our participants appeared to perceive the relationship between their research and policies in individual terms, rather than in terms of being a part of a community of higher education researchers. We explore the implications of these findings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2184-2197
Number of pages14
Issue number12
Early online date14 Apr 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2016


  • Policy actors
  • emerging researchers
  • policy subjects
  • Social Sciences

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