Steve Jones and Halina Harvey
Halina's thesis is entitled 'How does current HE policy impact upon practice and academic identity?'
What are the areas in which you most like to supervise?
I'm interested in Higher Education policy and practice, and I think they're hugely important areas of inquiry at the moment. Politically, HE is a hot topic because different sectors around the globe are trying to figure out which funding model works best for them. The public discourses of Higher Education – by which I mean how people talk about university – can be just as important as the policy. There's always an issue around Widening Participation because degree-level study has traditionally been available to some groups in society more than others. And there's increasingly an issue around university teaching, and whether its quality can be accurately measured by proxies like retention and employability.
I'm interested in all of those areas, and especially how they impact on the identity of the staff and students involved. Being an academic now is very different from being one a decade or two ago. And being a student has changed enormously too. I think there's more we can do to understand these changes, and I'm always looking for ways to make sure that policy decisions are informed by research evidence.
Why do you enjoy supervising Halina?
I look forward to supervisions with Halina. She understands the field of Higher Education really well, having been a practitioner for some time, but she's also open to new ideas triggered by new reading. I often think about what makes a good doctoral supervisor, and while things like support and communication are obviously important, it's also good to be able to exchange ideas freely, and be adversarial where appropriate. I feel able to do that with Halina. The project is still under development – partly because the HE sector is moving so quickly at the moment – but I'm confident that Halina's contribution will be really thoughtful and valuable.
What's your research about?
My research is still in development but essentially it focuses on HE policy and the impact it has on professional practice. I have had a challenging but very rewarding year! It was challenging in that I have been scoping out the information required to research the HE sector in terms of policy. This was a big job! However, it was rewarding because I think I have achieved that. I have passed the first research paper and am progressing onto Year Two.
What's it like to be supervised by Steve at the Manchester Institute of Education?
Before I began the course Steve was the keynote speaker at a conference I attended. I was impressed with his contribution to the conference, so when I discovered that he was going to main supervise me I was thrilled! My supervisors are friendly and helpful but also very clear about what is expected of me as a research student. Clarity is very important at the beginning of the doctoral process because there is a lot to take in. I really enjoy my supervision meetings. We have some great discussions! My supervisors have expertise in the subject area which I benefit from through supervision. Their broad understanding of higher education provides me with the ability to locate my research within a sound framework. I feel much more confident going forward because of this.