Knowledge, power and democracy are being more explicitly related to higher education globally. Increasingly there are calls for cognitive justice and the development of a sociology of absences, particularly in relation to structures of inequalities and knowledge production from the Global South. The university of the future will need to be cognizant and inclusive of a broader base of constituencies. However, what appears to exist now in higher education policy is an absence of sociology, rather than a sociology of absences. This article will consider some of the silences in current thinking about the morphology of the university of the future and ask whether creative and inclusive visioning have been eclipsed by pressing economic concerns and tensions in the present. The article will draw on empirical data from the recent research project ‘Widening participation in higher education in Ghana and Tanzania: developing an Equity Scorecard’ (www.sussex.ac.uk/education/cheer/wphegt) to exemplify how the massification of higher education can mask the maldistribution of opportunity structures. While there is a popular mythology that higher education has been hyper-modernised to respond to a rapidly changing global economy, it is often underpinned by archaic and exclusionary practices and remains the hereditary domain of the socio-economically privileged.
Morley, L. Researching absences and silences in higher education: data for democratisation. Higher Education Research and Development (2012) 31 (3) 353-368. [DOI: 10.1080/07294360.2011.634385]