About Professor Simon Haslett

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Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom
Professor of Physical Geography and Pro Vice-Chancellor at the University of Wales and the University of Wales Trinity Saint David.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Society for Research into Higher Education (SRHE) Annual Conference 2010 Day 1

Day 1 of the Society for Research into Higher Education (SRHE) Annual Conference at the Celtic Manor Resort, Newport, Wales. The Conference this year is entitled 'Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?' and runs over 14-16th December. The Conference is always a good opportunity to meet with colleagues from around the world, although this year the global financial situation may limit attendance. However, it's good to see so many local colleagues from the University of Wales and the University of Wales, Newport, attending as they did last year at SRHE2009.

I kicked off the day by attending the Getting Published Workshop facilitated and led by Professor Sue Clegg (Leeds Metropolitan University) who was joined on stage by Ian McNay, Ian Whitehead, and Lynn McAlpine. The workshop was aimed at postgraduate students and newer researchers, but there were nuggets there too for the more experienced researchers.

This was followed by the official opening of the conference by Helen Perkins, Dr Jill Jameson and Yvonne Hillier, who finished by introducing the first keynote 'Why managers should not replace Socrates in the Boardroom' by Dr Amanda Goodall who presented her research into why top research academics go on to make the best Vice-Chancellors. There was many questions from the floor, but mine wasn't taken - I would have asked if there was evidence for VCs past research activity to be continued once in the senior post? Most likely not. Her presentation was based on her book 'Socrates in the Boardroom' published in 2009 by Princeton University Press.

After lunch, I went to a presentation by Kathleen Quinlan of the University of Oxford who talked about 'What are the scientific activities involved in impact? Investigating case studies of scientific practice to inform policy'. Her study identified seven key themes in science impact: 1) collaboration cross institutions and disciplines, 2) coordination with external stakeholders, 3) engaging in training and professional development, 4) access to core facilities, such as labs, 5) leveraging funds and resources creatively, 6) developing risky research to provide preliminary data, and 7) being able to respond rapidly to opportunities. Some good questions from the floor to conclude.

Later in the afternoon, I went to Professor Sue Clayton's (Bangor University) presentation 'The Academic Experience of Continuing Professional Development in Higher Education: living between policy and practice', who through case stories likened an academics career journey as a 'career river' concept. Laura Morosanu (Oxford Brookes University) then talked about 'Learning beyond the Institution: A Cultural Capital Perspective on the International Student Experience' in which she outlined Bourdieu's Theory of Cultural Capital and through an audio diary programme with seven international Masters students examined the contribution made by extra-curricula activity (e.g. staying with host families (informal socialisation), and doing part-time work) to the learning experience of international students.

The day finished with an interesting keynote presentation from Professor David Watson on 'Higher Education and Higher Education Research in the Age of Austerity' in which he talked about the eternal triangle of researchers, practitioners and policy-makers, and that expectations of Higher Education is growing. The effect of the credit crunch on HE was discussed and that student markets would become more significant, and that public/private partnerships, or hybrids, are likely to be the way forward. The University of Wales provides a good example of such a partnership already up and running. He concluded by sharing a comparison with the southern hemsiphere, what he called 'globalisation from below' (Watson et al., in press - The Engaged University).

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