PhD Studentship: Mapping the field of higher education industries, and choosing case studies

Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

The studentship is part of the Universities in the Knowledge Economy (UNIKE) project ‘What are the changing roles and scope of universities in emerging global knowledge economies and regions?’ and is based at the University of Bristol under the supervision of Professor Susan Robertson.


To map and create regional typologies of the new field of higher education industries, and generate cases that will contribute to the development of theoretical and methodological approaches that will help us understand transformations of higher education globally.


Radical changes in the higher education landscape demand that we develop ways of researching and theorising transformations in the higher education sector. This means broadening our lenses to take in a range of other actors operating within higher education, along its boundaries, and outside the sector. It also requires the development of a multi-scalar analytic in order to bring into view new scales (global and regional) that are being constructed to advance new higher education projects.

Specific skills and aptitudes

A background in social sciences is highly desirable, particularly in areas such as education, sociology, geography or politics. Applicants will have an interest in theory-building, drawing on qualitative and quantitative material. Research will include the analysis of documents, interviews with a wide range of sector actors, and data gathering through site placements.

Secondment or research visit

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Secondment to Academic Cooperation Association, Belgium, which works to develop an overview of developments within the sector; research visits to selected associated partners.

Further information

For questions about the project, please contact Susan Robertson, (e-mail: For information on living in Bristol, please consult

Application Process

For a full project description and details of how to apply visit The application deadline is Sunday 3rd February at 17:00.

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