Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in International Higher Education in South Africa

University of Leeds

Applications are invited for a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow to work on an ESRC-NRF Higher Education in South Africa project to explore the process of institutional change in South Africa, focusing on the emerging business models, new educational technologies and innovative forms of educational provision. The project is a joint project with teams located at the University of Leeds, UK and the University of Cape Town, South Africa. The role is based at the University of Leeds but will involve spending two extended periods of three months in South Africa, and considerable travel to and within South Africa and within the UK.

The nature of Higher Education is rapidly evolving globally as in South Africa. Educational technologies, public-private partnerships and shifting employer expectations are resulting in rapid and unprecedented ‘unbundling’ and marketization of Higher Education.  For example, the past few years have seen the appearance of many flexible online courses and qualifications, short courses and MOOCs Whilst these changes may offer opportunities for increased numbers of learners to access education and thus contribute to economic prosperity, there is very little empirical research about the process and impact of unbundling, or the marketization of Higher Education in Africa, or developed countries, nor whether and how these are addressing social and educational inequality issues. This project will focus on new models which are being developed and on how these new opportunities are being approached and configured by universities and private providers in South Africa, with a particular focus on whether and how they can support the development of the HE sector.

You will collect a range of primary evidence through interviews with 'experts' both in South Africa and the UK, the analysis of available datasets, documents and other artefacts, and the organisation and participation in data collection workshops with students and members of academic staff in South Africa, to answer the main research question: How are unbundling and marketization changing the nature of higher education provision in South Africa, and what impact will this have on widening access, educational achievement, employability and thus the potential for economic development?   The project will critically engage in the systematic mapping and exploration of the emerging practices at the intersection of HE’s ‘global economics’ and innovation in educational technologies.

An important aspect of the role will be a commitment to establishing constructive sustainable links between the research teams. You will spend a total of six months in South Africa to co-conduct data collection alongside the South African team as well as developing a model for the impact activities with educational stakeholders, and the remainder of the time in the UK, carrying out data collection and analysis. You will take part in project meetings, and be involved in the writing of reports and dissemination. A planned output of the project is a MOOC, and you will be expected to contribute to its content development and delivery.

With a successfully completed PhD in a relevant field of study, you will have clear research interests in one or more areas of: educational challenges from an international development perspective, innovation in education technologies and its impact on Higher Education, sociology of education and Science, Technology and Society (STS). You will also have considerable experience of conducting qualitative research.

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Northern England