oa The Independent Journal of Teaching and Learning - Higher Education Studies as a field of research

Volume 9, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1818-9687
  • E-ISSN: 2519-5670



The field of Higher Education Studies is a rapidly growing one in South Africa and abroad but there has been little systematic review of the form this growth is taking. This article presents a case study of higher education research by considering a newly formed Higher Education Studies doctoral programme. The programme comprises 29 PhD scholars in 2014, all engaged in research on some aspect of higher education. The description of the PhD programme, the PhD scholars and what their research topics are, reveals a picture of the broad range of concerns within the field of Higher Education Studies and suggests that the field is a region, in Bernstein's terms. This means that it draws on multiple disciplines and looks both to the values and structures of those disciplines and to the professional world of work. It is argued that the strengthening of the epistemological base of Higher Education Studies is necessary for higher education research to move forwards with enhanced relational and positional autonomy.

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