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The aim of the EUROCORES Programme EuroHESC, which ran for three years, from 2009-2012, was to develop and implement a programme of interdisciplinary comparative research into the relationships between higher education and society. This involved the development of theories and hypotheses about this relationship and the factors which influenced it, and it also addressed methodological issues of comparative research in the field (e.g. data comparability, combination of quantitative and qualitative research, and different levels of analysis).
Furthermore, EuroHESC explored ways of utilising other social science datasets in order to situate the study of higher education more firmly within the different social and cultural settings in which higher education occurs. EuroHESC made a significant contribution to the expansion of capacity in the field of higher education research and to a better integration with related scientific fields.
The Programme was one of the outcomes of (and was strongly influenced by) the recent ESF Forward Look on Higher Education (Higher Education Looking Forward – HELF). The Forward Look sought to examine higher education and research within the wider context of research in the social sciences and other fields, by relating it to more general conceptual frameworks of human capital theory, theories of power, inequality and social exclusion, organisational theory, new public management, etc. In so doing it began to address some of the broader questions concerning the changing relationship between higher education and society and to develop research agendas that are relevant not only to researchers, but also to policy makers and practitioners. Such questions had to be dealt with in more detail in the course of the EuroHESC programme on higher education and social change.