International Conference on Higher Education Reform (HER)

Pre-Announcement of the 17th conference on Higher Education Reform


After the Covid-enforced interruption, the 17th HER Conference,  originally scheduled to take place in September 2020 at the University of Glasgow (Scotland, United Kingdom), will now be held on 21 to 23 June 2023.

The conference will focus on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as defined by the United Nations, the multiple roles Higher Education can play in realizing, and the reforms needed to enable Higher Education Institutions to contribute to them.

How does Higher Education’s mission and work relate to the SDGs? How can Higher Education become a key force in the trans-sectoral and transdisciplinary efforts urgently needed for survival, and for creating healthy and socially just living conditions for all people? What changes are needed in the ways the principal missions of Higher Education Institutions are presently organized, financed and governed?

The 2023 Higher Education Reform Conference will provide a forum for discussing the relationship of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Higher Education Policies and Reform. The goal is to provide a platform for higher education researchers, policy makers, and leaders to assess and explore ways in which higher education can promote progress towards the SDGs, and contribute to sustainable development and social justice in all countries.

The Conference will be held in Glasgow, under the auspices of Centre for Research and Development in Adult and Lifelong Learning (CR&DALL), based in the School of Education at the University of Glasgow. Founded in 1451, the University of Glasgow is the fourth oldest university in the English- speaking world and one of the top 100 of the world’s universities.

The Glasgow conference will be the 17th in an international series of conferences (formerly ‘International Workshops’) on Higher Education Reform, which have taken place annually since 2003. The first in this series was held in Vancouver, Canada, organised under the auspices of the (now defunct) Centre for Policy Studies in Higher Education and Training at the University of British Columbia. Subsequent conferences took place in Asia (Tokyo, Shanghai, Tianjin and Hiroshima), Europe (Vienna, Dublin, Berlin and Ljubljana), and North America (Mexico City, St. John’s, Pittsburgh and Baltimore).

For more information about the exact date and logistics of the conference as well as the kind of contributions that will be invited, please check the Call-for-Contributions to be issued in September 2022 and to be published on both the UBC and The U Glasgow web sites.

For inquiries or comments, please contact Dr. Hans G. Schuetze, Professor emeritus, Department of Educational Studies, The University of British Columbia,

International Conferences on Higher Education Reform (HER)

Over the last eighteen years, a number of education policy researchers from various countries have organized each year a series of international conferences. Six of these have taken place in North America (Canada [3], the US [2] and Mexico [2]), four in Europe (Austria, Ireland, Germany, and Slovenia), and four in Asia (Japan [2] and China [2]).

Themes: Conferences themes have covered various topics, ranging from internationalization and marketization to issues of institutional governance (see table below). The major papers from the conferences have been published, either in the form of monographs, special issues of academic journals, or as individual articles or chapters. 

Participation: With one exception (Shanghai 2009) which had over 200 participants, the number is usually between 75 and 100. Participants include mostly post-secondary education researchers, both professors and graduate students, and in some cases policy analysts and representatives of HE ministries or policy bodies.

Financing: The conferences are self-financing, i.e. financed mainly through participants’ fees, but also from external contributions in the form of grants from research councils, governments, or hosting institutions. Because conferences are held on campus, the fees are usually fairly low. There are different fees for various categories of participants, such as for grad students, emeriti or early registrants.

Other support: All of the HER conferences have been co-sponsored by learned societies in various countries (for example the [North American] Comparative and International Education Society [CIES] and the Canadian Society for the Study of Higher Education [CSSHE]).

Organization: The conferences are organized by local teams at the hosting institution. They are assisted by 3 coordinators and members of the International Advisory Board (IAB).

Venues, Themes and Publications

Year Place Main theme(s) Publication of proceedings
2003 Vancouver (UBC) Canada (Paired comparison of) Reforms of Higher Education in Six Countries, various themes Special Issue of Canadian Journal of Higher Education. vol 34 Nr. 3
2005 Vienna (U Klagenfurt) Austria various themes incl. institutional diversity and system coordination, the changing state – HE, collabo-ration with the private sector, [Major papers on conferences web site (no longer available)]
2006 Tokyo (U Tsukuba) Japan Higher Education reforms in Japan and various other countries Special Issue of Journal for University Studies Nr 35 (2007)
2007 Dublin (Dublin City University) Ireland Innovations in Teaching and Learning Special Issue of Journal of Adult and Continuing Education (JACE) vol 2 Nr. 9
2008 Shanghai (East China Normal U) China Internationalization of HE Special Issue of Journal of Higher Education (Oct, 2008)
2009 Mexico City (CINESTAV – DIE) Mexico The Changing Roles of State and Markets in HE Schuetze, H. G., & Alvarez Mendiola, G. (Eds.). (2012). State and market in higher education reforms Trends, policies and experiences in comparative perspective. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.
2010 Vancouver (UBC) Canada Reform of University Governance Schuetze, H. G., Bruneau, W., & G. Grosjean. (Eds.). University governance and reform – Policy, fads, and experience in international perspective. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
2011 Berlin (Humboldt U) Germany Universities and Lifelong Learning [Publ. together with HER 10 (Ljubljana) publ., 2015, 2nd ed. 2019]
2012 Pittsburgh (U Pittsburgh) USA Community Engagement of Universities Jacob,J.W., Sutin, S.E., Weidman, J.C. & J. L. Yeager (eds) (2015). Community Engagement in Higher Education – Policy Reforms and Practice Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.
2013 Ljubljana (U  Ljubljana) Slovenia HE Reforms: Looking Back – Looking Forward Zgaga, P., Teichler, U., Schuetze, H.G., & A. Wolter (eds.) (2nd ed. 2019) Higher Education Reform: Looking back – Looking forward. Frankfurt/New York: Peter Lang. Publisher's URL:
2014 St. John’s, NL,
(Memorial U) Canada
Student Policies and Higher Education Reforms Archer, W. & H.G. Schuetze (eds) (2019). Higher Education and its Principal Mission: Preparing Students for Life, Work, and Civic Engagement Rotterdam and Boston: Sense-Brill.
2015 Tianjin (Tianjin Normal U) China Policies and Practice of Quality Assurance and Control in Higher Education Selected papers published in Frontiers of Education in China (Springer) 2018, vol. 13 no.2:
2016 Dublin (Dublin City University) Ireland Wider Access, Changing Demographics and Migration: Implications for HE Reforms and Policy Slowey, M. & Schuetze, H.G. & T. Zubrzycki) (eds), (2020), Inequality, Innovation and Reform in Higher Education – Challenges of Migration and Ageing Populations. Cham (CH): Springer.
2017 Hiroshima (Research Institute for Higher Education Hiroshima U) Japan Assessing the missions of Higher Education: Performance, productivity, and pedagogies Huang, J. & J. Oba (eds) (2019), Higher Education Forum vol.16 (Special Issue). Research Institute for Higher Education, Hiroshima University
2018 Baltimore (Johns Hopkins U) USA Reinventing the public mission of Higher Education: Policies and practice Papadimitriou, A. & Boboc, M. (eds) (2020). Re-envisioning Higher Education’s Public Mission – Global Perspectives. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
2019 Mexico City ('Centro de Investigación y de Estudios Avanzados – DIE) Digitalization of Higher Education: Impact and Consequences for Policy Alvarez Mendiola, G., de Vries, W. & Schuetze, H.G. (eds.) (forthcoming) Higher Education Reform in the Digital Age Special Issue,  Journal of Comparative and International Higher Education
2023 Glasgow (Glasgow U) Scotland, United Kingdom Higher Education and its contribution to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

International Advisory Board Members and Coordinators

Name Affiliation
Abebaw Yirga Adamu Ethiopian Institute for Higher Education, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia
Germán Alvarez Mendiola
Department of Education Research, Centre for Research and Advanced Studies (CINVESTAV) Mexico City, Mexico
Isak Froumin Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia
Jacobs University Bremen
Gaële Goastellec  Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, University of Lausanne, Switzerland
Futao Huang Research Institute in Higher Education, Hiroshima University, Japan
Anna Kosmützky Center for Science and Society, Leibniz Universität, Hannover, Germany
Mei Li East China Normal University, Shanghai, China
Hans G. Schuetze
University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
Rob Shea Memorial University, St. John's, Canada
Maria Slowey
Dublin City University, Dublin, Ireland
Hilligje Van’t Land International Association of Universities (IAU), Paris, France
Andrä Wolter Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany
Shinichi Yamamoto Oberlin University, Tokyo, Japan
Pavel Zgaga Ljubljana University, Slovenia
Ran Zhang Peking University, Beijing, China