Educational systems: administration, management and leadership
Education systems are complex, operate in diverse environments and within a context of change. One key area of change is the demand for greater accountability, which itself demands more highly specialised knowledge and skills. Other challenges arise from processes of internationalisation and the increasing prevalence of markets. These developments raise questions about the nature of administration, management and leadership in educational settings. Accordingly, there is a growing need for quality research to understand this complexity and the relationships between organisational learning, organisational culture and organisational change. Critical program and policy evaluation are essential research tools informing effective growth and evolution in educational systems.
Around the world, systems of higher education confront many common challenges. One is the increasing commodification of education, under the pressure of economic globalisation and of rising demand for higher education combined with straitened budgets. Increasingly international competition is also driving a complex process of system fragmentation, as some public institutions are privatised and some institutions and staff are being channelled into either research or teaching intensive activity. Internationalisation is not only economic: students, staff, programs and administration are also becoming increasingly mobile, and therefore more socially and culturally diverse. Meanwhile, information and communication technologies and increasing diversity among students are transforming pedagogies. These developments make higher education systems a very rich field for research.
International and comparative education
Educational problems and policies are less and less likely to be framed entirely within their local context. More commonly, as education is caught up in moves towards the global ‘knowledge economy’, countries compare their policies and performance in education, and adapt or adopt elements of other systems. But this ‘cultural borrowing’ is actually an intricate art, which raises key questions of culture, identity and context. International organizations, often economic (such as the OECD, World Bank, and Asian Development Bank) are also having an increasing impact on how national educational policies and programs are framed, as are institutions such as UNESCO, UNICEF and the UNDP. Educational aid (bi-lateral and multi-lateral) also shapes the development of national education systems, particularly in the developing world. These processes and institutions are the stuff of research in international and comparative education.
Preschool, primary and secondary
In modern societies, formal education for children and young people takes place primarily in institutions – primary and secondary schools, and increasingly in preschool and child care settings. This area of research focuses on these institutions as organizations. Specifically, research investigates the policies, practices and actors that shape the governance, administration and development of these institutions over time.