UEL Cass School of Education HERG Research Seminar
12 October 2016, 5.00-6.30 pm.
Seminar Title: Prestige in Academic Life
Speaker: Professor Paul Blackmore, Policy Institute, King’s College London
Venue: UEL Cass School of Education, ED2.02, Stratford Campus
Prestige in academic life
The session frames academic life as a range of interacting prestige economies, where prestige concerns are often a source of tensions. The many applications include: recent growth in league tables and ranking; the comparative standing of academic activities, particularly research and teaching; allocation of academic recognition; and decisions that students take over what and where to study. At the heart of all of them is a tension between excellence and inclusion.
The session will consider what might be meant by prestige, drawing on both socio-cultural and psychological insights. A key distinction is drawn between prestige and reputation, seen as having different aims and consequences. Prestige is relatively scarce: not all can have it; it is hard to measure; it is slow to gain and to lose; and it is often decided by those within a group.
Some issues in researching and working with prestige will also be considered, including its highly situated and often covert nature. A critique is offered of the model that has been used to frame much of the research to date, noting that it raises a number of issues about the definition of an economy, its nature and extent, and how it relates to other economies.
Paul Blackmore is Professor of Higher Education in the International Centre for University Policy Research, at the Policy Institute, King’s College London. He has led academic development and research centres at the Universities of Warwick, Coventry and King’s. A HEFCE-funded study of 26 institutions worldwide led to a major report and a 2012 book “Strategic curriculum change in universities: global trends”. In 2016 he published Prestige in academic life: Excellence and exclusion, exploring difference and motivation in academic life, and a Leadership Foundation for Higher Education-funded study: The role of prestige in UK universities: Vice-chancellors’ perspectives.