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September 7, 2012 - This past summer, students in Penn GSE’s Executive Doctorate in Higher Education program got a chance to investigate Ireland’s system of higher education.
The annual experiential field research project affords a rich opportunity for the career educators enrolled in the Executive Doctorate in Higher Education program to understand U.S. higher education challenges against the backdrop of international efforts. In past years, the class has visited such countries as Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Spain, and South Africa.
For the 2012 session, faculty members Alan Ruby, Laura Perna, and Joni Finney and the cohort of 24 doctoral students examined the history, current status, and challenges of higher education in Ireland as a comparative case study in each of four areas: college preparation and participation, completion, affordability, and research productivity.
Building on the program’s public policy course and the acclaimed five-state higher education policy review project completed this year by Joni Finney and Laura Perna, students met with past and current Irish government officials to learn about the role that higher education plays in Ireland’s broader policy picture. While visiting a range of colleges and universities, the students met with institutional leaders to better understand how the country’s policies unfold at the institutional level.
At the end of the visit, students presented preliminary findings and conclusions from the data they collected. They also participated in a "policy roundtable" at Trinity University with Irish higher education leaders, U.S. higher education leaders from five states and other policy experts.
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