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Higher Education Research Centre

Our Team and Associates



Maria Slowey is a Professor in the School of Policy and Practice and Founding Director of the Higher Education Research Centre, Institute of Education, Dublin City University, where she also served as Vice President (Learning Innovation). 

She has held senior academic leadership and managerial positions in Ireland (DCU 2004 to present), Scotland (University of Glasgow 1992-2004), and England (University of Northumbria 1984-1992). Her career has particularly focused on research-led innovation in higher education, widening access, internationalisation and lifelong learning. Educated in UCD and TCD, Maria’s research and policy interests draw on sociology, public policy and education to address issues of governance and management in higher education, patterns of participation in higher education, equality of opportunity and widening access to lifelong learning opportunities, comparative tertiary education policy, the participation of adults in education and training, and the role of the university in the community. She has written extensively on these issues and has acted as a consultant to a range of bodies internationally, including OECD, UNESCO, the EC, the Council of Europe, the European Training Foundation, the European Association for Education of Adults, the Swedish National Board for Higher Education, the New Zealand Qualifications Authority, the US Advisory Council on Continuing Education [read more].



Tanya Zubrzycki is a Research Projects Manager in Higher Education Research Centre.

She is working on Erasmus Plus projects in adult education, lifelong learning and university social responsibility and also in the final stages of her doctoral studies in the Philosophy of Education at Trinity College Dublin where she is a recipient of the Ben Bishop scholarship to explore the changing academic profession in Ireland's technological higher education sector. She has a Master's Degree from the University of Massachusetts, Boston and has previously worked in the Office of the Dean of Graduate Studies and Research at the University of Puerto Rico, USA as part of her graduate studies.

Tanya Zubrzycki's current research interests include lifelong learning, ageing populations and higher education policy. She has recently co-edited a book titled Inequality, Innovation and Reform in Higher Education: Challenges of migration and ageing populations (2020) as part of the Springer Lifelong Learning Book Series. Her contributions to the book as a co-author include a chapter on the Implications of Migration and Ageing Populations for Inclusion and Equality in Higher Education and Lifelong Learning, and a chapter on the Implications of new lifecourse patterns for higher education and workforce dynamics in Ireland. She has also co-authored a report on Living Longer, Learning Longer - Working Longer? Implications for New Workforce Dynamics (2018) exploring the role universities and employers can play in a shift towards more ‘age-friendly’ policies and practices, supported by the public policy. She has served on several editorial boards in the fields of Humanities and Education.


Dr. Anna Logan is one of two inaugural Institute of Education - HERC Research Fellows.

She is Associate Professor at the School of Inclusive and Special Education, Institute of Education in Dublin City University, St. Patrick’s Campus. Prior to working in higher education, Anna spent almost twenty years working as a teacher in mainstream and special schools. She is currently engaged in research projects relating to collaborative practice in higher education, teacher educator identity, initial teacher education and continuing professional development for special and inclusive education with a particular focus on blended and online approaches, and teacher/assistant partnership. Anna’s areas of teaching interest include communication and language teaching and learning, inclusive curriculum and pedagogy, diversity and special and inclusive education and collaborative practice with a particular focus on teacher/assistant partnership. She has supervised twenty masters and doctoral research dissertations and received the St. Patrick’s College President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2015. She is Programme Chair of the Masters in Special Educational Needs and Editor of the Reach Journal of Special Needs Education in Ireland. Anna has conducted, published and presented research relating to many aspects of teacher education, online and blended learning,  inclusion, learner voice, and transition.


Dr. Alan Gorman is one of two inaugural Institute of Education - HERC Research Fellows.

He is Assistant Professor in the School of Policy and Practice in DCU Institute of Education. At initial teacher education level, he works as part of the School Placement Primary team (Bachelor of Education and Professional Master of Education' Primary Teaching). At postgraduate level, he lectures in qualitative research methods on the Master of Education (MEd) and in (i) pedagogies of practice and (ii) teacher education policy analysis on the Doctorate of Education (EdD).  He is a Research Fellow of the National Anti-Bullying Research and Resource Centre (ABC), where he specialises in policy analysis, policy implementation and policy impact. Prior to the DCU Incorporation, he was a lecturer in the Education Department, St Patrick's College, Drumcondra (2012-2016).  Before joining St Patrick's College, Alan worked as a primary school teacher in Dublin. 

Alan's primary research interests include: policy analysis; the interplay between policy, pedagogy and practice; teacher education policy; teacher professional learning across the continuum; professional identity formation of student teachers, teachers as teacher educators, and more recently of early-career principals.

Alan is also the Principal Investigator on a SCoTENS commissioned study focussing on early-career principal identity formation.



Dr. Rob Mark is an Honorary Research Fellow in Higher Education Research Centre (HERC) and at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland.

Previously, he was head of the Centre for Lifelong Learning at the University of Strathclyde and was Director of Education and Research at Queen’s University Belfast.  He also worked in schools, further and higher education sectors and in community and voluntary provision. Dr Mark's research interests focus on the broad field of education and lifelong learning. He has contributed to teaching and research in the following areas: policy and practice in European and international contexts, access to higher education, teacher education and community learning , literacy and social justice.  He has coordinated  a number of European funded  projects including Adult Learning and Participating in Education (ALPINE) and Literacy & Equality in Irish Society (LEIS) and has contributed to projects on the age-friendly university, inter-generational learning and older men’s learning. He is currently editor of the Adult Learner Journal, for the Adult and Community Learning Association (AONTAS) and Executive Secretary to the UK University Association for Lifelong Learning. He has also served on the Steering Committee European University Continuing Education Network (EUCEN) and on many other local projects in Ireland.


Professor Mark Morgan is a Visiting Research Fellow with HERC.

He was appointed as the first Creagan Professor in St. Patrick’s College, Drumcondra. His scholarship can be categorized under four broad headings: motivation and job satisfaction, substance misuse and prevention, literacy, and educational disadvantage, and are derived from his training and experience as primary teacher and social psychologist. Recognising the need for a scholarly programme tailored to meet the needs of Irish educational leaders whose fields of practice were under-researched, Mark has attracted substantial funding from Atlantic Philanthropies. This enabled him to establish at St Patrick’s College what has become an innovative Doctor of Education programme. It was the first of its type in Ireland and a measure of its success is that his prototype has been widely replicated throughout the Irish university sector. Already many of its graduates are following Mark in making substantial contributions to new and emerging areas of scholarship related especially to primary education. Professor Morgan is working with Professor Slowey on a Process Study of the Development of the DRHEA.


Our Associates


John Field is an Adjunct Professor at HERC, DCU and an Emeritus Professor in the School of Education, University of Stirling.

Between 2002 and 2007, he was Deputy Principal (Research) responsible for leading the REF (Research Excellent Framework) strategy of Stirling. He also served as the School of Education’s Director of Research. He is a visiting professor at the University of Warwick, and has been guest professor at the Friedrich-Schiller-University of Jena and the University of Cologne.

He has a long-standing background of interest and involvement in lifelong learning and extensive engagement with research and policy activities at national and international levels. He is author or editor of 9 books and over 200 chapters, papers and articles, including his influential book Lifelong Learning and the New Educational Order (now in its 3rd edition). Recent publications include edited collections on Higher Education and Lifelong Learning, Mental Capital and Wellbeing and Researching Transitions in Lifelong Learning and, drawing on his background in history,  a study of British work camp systems before 1939, published in 2013 by Manchester University Press. He is editor of the Sage Handbook on Aging, Work & Society.

Professor Field has strong connections with DCU: contributing to seminars, research assessment and, in 2016, as keynote speaker at the 48th EUCEN (European Universities Continuing Education Conference) hosted by HERC 1-3 June.



Dr. Tom Doyle is a researcher and consultant specialising in the area of organisational change in higher education.

He has over thirty years’ experience acting as manager or consultant in a wide range of companies and organizations in Ireland, Eastern Europe and more recently in Sierra Leone. He served as a founding member management team at the Institute of Technology in Blanchardstown for eleven years and subsequently completed his doctorate at DCU investigating the  factors that determined the  development path followed by Irish higher education over the last five decades. His present research interest focuses on the use of organisational theory to explain the micro processes of change in higher education and the implications this has for strategic management and leadership development in higher education institutions.


Colleagues and Collaborators previously associated with HERC include:


Visiting Researcher: Claudia Secci

Institution: Department of Pedagogy: Psychology and Philosophy, University of Cagliari, Italy

Research project: Norm and Transgression in Family Education

As a researcher in General and Social Pedagogy and teacher of Adult Education, I’m interested in developing research on new challenges the families might encounter in an era of rapid social changes. Such challenges can affect familiar structures and raise the issue of different familiar values coexisting in the same space.

In September 2018, I have been hosted by the Higher Education Research Centre of the Dublin City University and had access to the Libraries and Campus Services. Thanks to Professor Maria Slowey, Tanya Zubrzycki, Dr. Anna Logan and Admin Secretary Grainne Reddy, I could gain an overview upon the organization of family education programs, like family learning and family literacy, in Ireland. This has been a very important insight in the context of comparing spontaneous and informal education experiences of the parents, and the more formal and pragmatic perspectives.

Thanks to the hospitality and helpfulness of HERC staff, I was also able to gain insight into ongoing debate on the role of Universities and Higher Education, the problem of their funding and effectiveness, that is very relevant not only in the Irish context but in all European Countries.

Dr Claudia Secci, University of Cagliari


Doctoral Student: Carlo Terzaroli

Scientific Supervisor: Professor Vanna Boffo

Institution: Department of Education and Psychology, University of Florence, Italy

Research project: Policies for Employability. The formative value of Career Service in Higher Education

University Career Services play an increasingly important role in fostering employability (Harvey, 2003; Yorke, 2006): studies about Career Service models show the importance of connections and relations in life and career perspective. 

In this framework, the research (developed with Prof. Vanna Boffo, President’s Delegate for Job Placement at the University of Florence) aims to analyse the implementation of strategies and policies in higher education, with the aim of bolstering employability and capabilities of young graduates.

According to the research project, the Higher Education Research Centre, Dublin City University hosted me from the 6th September to 14th September 2016 for a visiting research period. Professor Maria Slowey and her staff provided me with great support, facilitating many contacts and appointments with Heads and Staff Members of Career Services from the main universities in Dublin and in Ireland (Dublin City University, Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, Maynooth University, Irish Universities Association). It really was a special opportunity to collect interesting information and to explore the Irish higher education system as well. 

During the visiting period, participation in the 13th Higher Education Reform Workshop, hosted by HERC in Dublin City University (7-9th September 2016), represented another special opportunity to meet higher education scholars from all over the world.

Carlo Terzaroli, University of Florence 


Doctoral Student: Brenda Yokebed Perez Colunga

Scientific Supervisor: Professor Germán Álvarez Mendiola

Institution: Center of Educational Research and Advanced Studies, Mexico City

The research that I am doing as part of my doctoral studies is about participation of adults as students in higher education, especially, their preferences and choices of university, modality and career. The brief research stay at HERC in DCU allowed me to explore and deepen the lifelong learning perspective through the consultation of specialized literature, discussions and exchanges with specialists in the subject such as Professor Maria Slowey and Dr. Rob Mark. It was also the link to know projects such as DCU in the Community, and discuss issues related to access to higher education for adults and at-risk populations with specialists of civic engagement, such as Professor Ronaldo Munk and Joanna Ozarowska. I am thankful to Professor Maria Slowey for the opportunity and hospitality, and to Grainne Reddy and Tanya Zubrzycki for their kindness.

Brenda Yokebed Perez Colunga


Dr. Noreen Connolly O’Prey, research associate

Dr Eileen Culloty, post-doctoral researcher

Dr Annelies Kamp, Deputy Director of HERC, 2015

Dr Emma Murphy, postdoctoral researcher

Dr Esther Murphy, postdoctoral researcher

Dr Yurgos Politis, postdoctoral researcher

Dr. Eloise Tan, research collaborator

Dr Mark Wallace, postdoctoral researcher

Dr Tony Walsh, research collaborator