On my way to the eighth Donor Harmonisation Group annual seminar – my fourth attendance – to catch up on higher education and international development projects and to talk about the new book, International Scholarships in Higher Education: Pathways to Social Change.
DHG is a forum of policymakers, funders, and administering agencies: the perfect place to ask some direct questions about how we can better bridge the work of the research community worldwide and the need for accessible, robust evidence in the scholarship design and implementation. At the top of the agenda for my ‘Word café’ session on the new book:
- What are the current ‘hot topics’ in policymaking around scholarship programmes? How closely do they relate to topics in the book?
What are the top research priorities from an administering agency and funder perspective?
- And what kind of work is going to be most useful? – New primary research; More accessible syntheses of published work; Consultancy for donor-initiated projects (e.g. programme evaluations)? etc
- How do we continue to make the links between administering agencies and academia, especially the detailed and extensive work of graduate students?
- Is there genuine appetite to work with researchers and others to build partnerships and conduct research? If we created a list from today of staff who wanted to be contacted about participating, who would be on it?
I am particularly interested in that last point: is this an agenda that we can genuinely push with some home of progress? In the UK, the various departments of government have begun to set out ‘Areas of Research Interest’ with the intention of helping to guide academic research that aims at policy influence. I wonder how far it is possible to achieve this in the international scholarship space as well?