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In this seminar, I propose to explore the long-term expansion and transformation of academic workforce in higher education in the United Kingdom and France which, despite their differences and national specificities, share remarkably similar debates around working conditions, segmentation and institutional differentiation. The analysis is based on historical data from the early 1920s onwards collected as part of a project from the Centre for Global Higher Education. The study reveals recurrent tensions between the historical trajectories of staff recruitment, student enrolment and the level and structure of funding. It also points to a strong association in both countries between the expansion of the academic profession and its professional segmentation which tends to reflect, beyond functional diversification, a process of casualisation. The study also reveals a process of institutional differentiation of the academic workforce illustrating alongside the diversity of missions a stratification of HE systems characterised by unequal distribution of resources. Overall, the study suggests that the interconnections and tensions between the processes of expansion, segmentation and differentiation of the academic workforce are historically contingent with the crises of 1973 and 2008 as key turning points. This suggests the possibility to address some of the inequalities (impacting institutions, staff and students) associated with the massification process in both countries by a revival of public investment and a reorganisation of HE systems.

Carpentier, V. and E. Picard (2023) “Academic Workforce in France and the UK in Historical Perspectives.” Comparative Education. In press.

All welcome- this seminar is free to attend but registration is required.