We are looking forward to giving the first proper paper from our project at the Society for Research into Higher Education’s annual conference in early December. It’s entitled ‘Constructing the Higher Education Student in Europe’ and the abstract is given below.
Higher education is of considerable importance to policymakers across Europe. Indeed, it is viewed as a key mechanism for achieving a range of economic, social and political goals. Nevertheless, despite this prominence within policy, we have no clear understanding of the extent to which conceptualisations of ‘the student’ are shared across the continent. To start to redress this gap, this paper explores four key aspects of contemporary higher education students’ lives, considering the extent to which they can be considered as, variously, consumers, workers, family members and political actors. On the basis of this evidence, it argues that, despite assumptions on the part of European policymakers that there are now large commonalities in the experiences of students across Europe – evident in pronouncements about Erasmus mobility and the operations of the European Higher Education Area – significant differences exist both between, and within, individual nation-states.
If you’re attending the SRHE conference, please do come along to our session – it’s on 7th December at 12.45pm.