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Dr Rob Higham
UCL Institute of Education, University College London
20 Bedford Way
Dr Rob Higham profile picture
  • Senior Lecturer in Education
  • IOE - Learning & Leadership
  • UCL Institute of Education

Rob’s research explores the organisation of state schools, educational and socio-economic inequalities, the operation of markets in schooling and the involvement of civil society groups and businesses in the opening and governing of state schools.

Rob is currently undertaking research into ‘new models of schooling’ in England, including free schools and academies. This is particularly interested in: which non-state actors gain access to state funds to open new schools; what educational aims they seek to promote; who their schools serve; whether and, if so, what competitive pressures these schools create for existing neighbouring schools; and how this influences the experiences and outcomes of students.  A recent article on free schools and social selection can be found here: http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/ioep/clre/2018/00000016/00000002/art00002

Rob has also explored how school leaders in England have interpreted and begun to respond to wider educational policy reforms introduced and/or intensified from 2010 – including in a Nuffield Foundation funded public report entitled 'Hierarchy, Markets and Networks' - which can be found here: https://www.ucl-ioe-press.com/books/education-policy/hierarchy-markets-and-networks/

Rob has also pursued research on social inequality and education in South Africa and India, including as part of a British Academy UK South Asia Partnership with partners in England, India and Nepal.

New PhD and EdD students – Rob welcomes expressions of interest from potential doctoral students, particularly those proposing:

  • detailed analysis of academies, free schools, studio schools, University Technical Colleges or multi-academy trusts in England; and/or
  • research internationally into school system reforms, quasi-market mechanisms, private sector involvement in and privatization of schooling; teachers, school leaders or parents involvement in and/or resistance to educational reform processes.

Rob studied Geography at the University of Cambridge before undertaking a PhD at the Geography Department of Queen Mary College, University of London. Rob then worked for five year in central Government at the (then) Department of Education and Skills.

Since joining the Institute of Education, Rob has been seconded to the National Audit Office to support the research design and analysis for the NAO Academies Programme reports (in 2010 and 2012). Rob has also given oral evidence to the House of Common Select Committee on Education, as part of its inquiry into Academies and Free School.

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