The Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management (JHEPM) is an international journal of professional experience and ideas in higher education. It is a must-read for those seeking to influence higher educational policymaking. The journal also aims to be of use to managers and senior academic staff who seek to place their work and interests in a broad context and influence educational policy and practice.
The journal is published in February, April, June, August, October and December each year and is produced under the guidance of editors, Peter Bentley (Editor-in-Chief) and Carroll Graham (Associate Editor).
The journal is jointly published by the LH Martin Institute and ATEM.
Editors Peter Bentley and Carroll Graham take us through the fifth (and second last) issue for 2021 of the Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management. Members can log in to read all the articles online, anytime. In this issue there are six articles addressing employment and employability in tertiary education, for both professional and academic staff, from Australia and around the globe.
The early stage of an academic career typically entails job insecurity and high pressure to demonstrate one’s worthiness for a secure (‘tenured’) position. However, a perennial problem in many countries is the lack of a pathway to security. Davide Dusi and Jeroen Huisman examine a new career model in Belgium. It was designed to add security but has also led to risk averseness in new recruitment and favouring safer, jack-of-all-trades local inbreeds.
Fierce competition for academic jobs would appear to make university recruitment very easy, but universities must also compete for the best staff. Daniel Abell and Karen Becker investigate employer attractiveness for early career academics in Australia and identify five key factors influencing choice that may assist universities in differentiating their message to potential recruits.
Universities generally cannot compete with the private sector on wages but attract talent through non-monetary benefits. Ciara Smyth and colleagues examine flexible work arrangements (genuine flexibility, not the casualisation euphemism) at Australian universities. Flexibility may attract staff universities, but they identify inequity and arbitrariness in access for staff, particularly professional staff.
‘Third space’ staff navigate both academic and professional domains, supporting teaching, research and other strategic initiatives, many of which were previously the sole domains of academics. Cameron W. Smith and colleagues show that working across domains and boundaries in Canada requires managing complex “tacit rules” to deflect and defuse academic tensions.
If universities are not attractive employers, PhD graduates have other options. Indeed, having more PhD holders employed outside academe is often touted as a great way to improve their economic and social contribution. But what do we actually know about the career pathways of PhD graduates? Sally Hancock examines the situation of PhD employment in the UK three to four years after graduation and establishes the need for more data on this topic.
Finally, external engagement by universities is not new, but evaluation of the university ‘third mission’ is. Ryan Plummer and colleagues’ framework, methodology and assessment of community partnerships in Canada offers an important advancement in an era of performance-based funding.
Best Article Award
Following a rigorous selection process by the journal editors and evaluation by the three members of the Best Article Committee, the 2020 Best Article Award was awarded to:
‘Responding to student plagiarism in Western Australian universities: the disconnect between policy and academic staff’ by Carmela de Maio, Kathryn Dixon and Shelley Yeo (Curtin University)
Carmela de Maio and colleagues’ article on staff responses to potential plagiarism was highly commended by the Committee members for its relevance to our Journal and potential impact. In our opinion, it is precisely the type of article that our Journal seeks to publish.
Student plagiarism is a critical topic for government, regulators and institutional managers, underpinning the integrity of the higher education system. However, most research focuses on student behaviours or policy frameworks for preventing plagiarism. Far less research examines policy implementation and staff behaviours, or the potential disconnect with policy objectives. de Maio and colleagues’ interviews revealed important tensions faced by academics between prioritising the students’ needs, the institution’s policy goals and their own careers.
The feedback from the three Committee members described the article as ‘very well situated within the Journal’s aims’, ‘an important paper, with a clear contribution’ and ‘very useful findings’. de Maio and colleagues’ research reminds us that no plagiarism policy, however well crafted, can achieve its goals without the support of academics. Academics are critical to detecting plagiarism and (rightly) have considerable discretion over how they respond to potential plagiarism incidents. However, stressed, overworked and insecurely employed academics may understandably turn a blind eye to plagiarism, particularly if institutional policies are time-consuming or require extensive substantiation.
Highly commend runners-up
The Journal would also like to highly commend two runners-up for the Award, which were equally well assessed by the Committee.
‘Factors influencing dropout and academic performance: an Australian higher education equity perspective’ by Ian W. Li and David R. Carroll
Ian Li and David Carroll were commended by multiple Committee members for the thoroughness and quality of their article, including a ‘very clear and accessible explanation of method and findings’. The article’s ‘impact could be significant in terms of social justice implications’ and certainly should be considered by government and institutional managers when seeking to address these goals.
‘Interrogating strategies and policies to advance women in academic leadership: the case of Hong Kong’ by Sarah Jane Aiston, Chee Kent Fo and Wing Wah Law.
Sarah Jane Aiston and colleagues’ study was positively reviewed across all key criteria, but particularly for style, with all three Committee members rating it highly. One Committee member summed it up as follows: ‘Participant voice is judiciously used and provides a rich picture. Extremely engaging style of writing… very focused within the key aims of the journal in that it foregrounds policy and management and identifies the lack of policy impact in management practice and therefore the lived experiences of the participants.’
A brief history of the Journal’s contents and authors during the first thirty years has been written by (former editor) Ian Dobson. The paper is entitled ‘The Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management: an output analysis’, published in Volume 31 No. 1 (2009) of the Journal. The pdf can be found here, called The History of the Journal.