Supporting Research in College Based Higher Education

Encouraging and sponsoring research activity is an important aspect of the work of the Mixed Economy Group of Colleges (MEG). Initially, MEG’s research focus was HE policy and the management of college based HE but increasingly it supports small-scale, practitioner driven action research aimed at benefiting students, colleagues and the wider sector.
Members’ take up of research bursaries is enthusiastic with recent projects including: students’ mental health and well being; employability in a coastal town; scholarship in colleges; and supporting andragogical practice. The bursary scheme aims to encourage research practice as complementary to, not a replacement for teaching activities.
There is, of course, a well established tradition of practitioner driven research within colleges, especially in larger CBHE providers , many of whom dwarf smaller HEIs in terms of student enrolments ( one MEG member has nearly 3,000 HE students for example). Much high quality college research is driven by colleagues’ enthusiasm rather than any contractual obligations , is linked to continuous professional development and has a strong focus on improving the students’ experience.
MEG college managers increasingly recognise the benefits of supporting such activity and several have introduced staff contracts which specify a research element. This helps to raise the profile of this essential aspect of our academic community of practice and reinforces the importance of college based and college focussed research.
MEG is a representative group of 42 of the largest college based higher education (CBHE) providers in England and focusses support through meetings, interest groups, and its extensive good practice network. Small scale research bursaries are open members as part of MEG’s mission to promote higher education excellence for the benefit of students, staff and the wider HE community.
Published research can be found at :
Recent research projects include –
  • Bedford College – Updating Teachers’ Vocational Knowledge via Digital Technology.
  • Newcastle college – An Investigation into the Impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic on Mental Health Services in a CBHE Setting.
  • New College Durham ​- An investigation into the viability of documenting teaching observations through video recordings that support andragogical practice in teacher training settings.
  • South Devon College – Reviewing college-based HE assessment and moderation practices in response to Covid and national policy changes.
  • South Thames College Group – Defining Higher Education ‘Identity’ within a Further Education Environment.
  • Leeds City College – Confronting the Culture of CBHE Scholarship: Implementing a Research and Scholarly Activity Framework at the University Centre Leeds .
  • TEC Partnership ( formerly Grimsby Institute of Further and Higher Education) ) – Exploring Employability in a Coastal Town.
  • University Centre South Essex – Student Perceptions of the Importance of Embedding Well-being within the HE Environment.
For further information about MEG’s activities contact Nick Whitehouse, MEG Coordinator at :

Blog by Dr Wendy Fowle – Oxford Brookes University

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