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Call for Abstracts for 2021 Special Issue of the Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management

Tertiary Education Policy and Management Advances in Pacific Islands

This special issue of JHEPM will explore the ways in which tertiary education systems are continuing to evolve within and across Pacific Island countries. We are interested in expanding knowledge of ways to achieve effective tertiary education systems in small countries that are tackling global issues.

Pacific Island nations are among the strongest advocates for international action to mitigate the effects of climate change and to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). How are these concerns being given effect in their tertiary education policy or management and what advice can be shared?

In recent years, several Pacific nations have established their own universities while seeking to enhance their technical and vocational education (TVET) systems to meet labour market opportunities and needs. Established but quite different universities, such as the University of the South Pacific and the University of New Caledonia, have continued to consolidate their operations. The public policy and political drivers shaping the choices that have been made by different countries – and the consequences of these choices – seem ripe for further discussion in the international literature on tertiary education.

While there is a growing body of literature on Moana/Pasifika/Pacific-Indigenous specific ways of knowing and doing, there is not yet a sustained discussion on whether and how the management of tertiary education institutions in the Pacific reflects local initiatives, models borrowed directly from the Global North or Asia, or adaptations. More needs to be known about the conditions under which Pacific Indigenous and other actors can demonstrate leadership and sound management in tertiary education.

The Covid-19 pandemic is disrupting planned policy and management developments in many nations, through health and economic consequences. Pacific Island countries have evident capabilities and resilience in risk awareness and recovery. It is timely to reflect on how these distinctive capabilities and resilience are reflected in their tertiary education systems and what lessons there might be for other nations.

This Special Issue aims to give voice to researchers, managers and practitioners working in the tertiary education systems and institutions of Pacific Island countries. These countries include nations, states, territories, and collectivities across Polynesia, Melanesia and Micronesia.

Moana/Pasifika/Pacific Indigenous people based in other countries, and co-authors, also are encouraged to contribute. Comparative studies relating Pacific and non-Pacific tertiary education systems would be welcome.

Papers are sought from different perspectives and disciplines, focusing on conceptual models and empirical studies of practice or outcomes. In addition to the questions above, topics that could be addressed are:

  • Which players are most significant in the framing of recent policy priorities and policy decisions for Pacific tertiary education systems? To what extent is there internal contestation about choices and directions? How have international development partners shaped agendas and what have been the effects?
  • What evidence is there of consolidation or fragmentation across higher education and TVET within one or more Pacific countries?
  • What have been the effects of external quality assurance regimes and professional accreditation within a single country or across Pacific countries?
  • Does tertiary education in the Pacific still play a major role in nation-building or is it more focused on (global) employability?
  • How can affordable mass tertiary education be achieved in Pacific Island environments where funding is severely constrained?
  • To what extent do the tertiary education policy and management approaches used in Pacific nations acknowledge or reference a post-colonial agenda?
  • What networks exist among Pacific tertiary institutions and how do these networks contribute to change?


Abstract submission* (up to 500 words): by 15 December 2020

Notification of acceptance: no later than 15 January 2021

Submission of full paper for review: 31 March 2021

Submission of final papers: 31 May 2021

Likely Publication Issue:  October 2021


Please read the Instructions for authors on the journal website for more information.  *Please download the abstract proforma from here.  Only submissions that use the abstract proforma will be considered.

Abstracts should be emailed to [email protected] no later than 15 December 2020.


About the Special Issue Editors

Dr Jeanette Baird is a higher education consultant with extensive experience in higher education quality assurance and governance. She is an Honorary Senior Fellow of the LH Martin Institute at the University of Melbourne, a Council member of the University of Divinity in Australia, and a member of the JHEPM Editorial Board. She was previously Vice-President for Quality Assurance at Divine Word University in Papua New Guinea.  Jeanette’s international work encompasses advising on quality assurance standards, quality audits, and the establishment of external quality assurance agencies. Her current research explores tertiary education systems and academic identities in emerging nations.

Professor Unaisi Nabobo-Baba is the Dean of the College of Humanities and Education at Fiji National University.  Her research interests are in higher education development specific to Fiji/Pac, and teacher education and rural remote schooling, including access and equity, in Fiji/Pac.  She gained her PhD from the University of Auckland and won an Honoured Scholar – International and Indigenous Group – Pacific SIG Award from the American Education Research Association.  She has published numerous books, book chapters and journal articles and has been a member on various international journals including currently on the editorial board of the International Education Journal.


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