Higher Education Research Centre

Professor Maria

Primary Department
Higher Education Research Centre
Phone number: 01 700
Glasnevin Campus
Room Number

Academic biography

Maria Slowey is Full Professor and founding Director of HERC (Higher Education Research Centre www.dcu.ie/herc) – an interdisciplinary hub that focusses on comparative research with implications for policy and practice in the area of higher education and lifelong learning. Recently she also served as Vice-President Learning Innovation and Academic Registrar in DCU. Previously she held the Chair in Adult and Continuing Education Glasgow University, Scotland with other roles including: Director of Adult and Continuing Education; Vice-Dean Research; and, Founding Director of the Centre for Research and Development in Adult and Lifelong Learning (CRADALL). Previous positions include: Senior Lecturer, subsequently Head of the Centre for Continuing Education and Widening Access, Northumbria University, England; Lecturer in Adult and Community Education, National University of Ireland, Maynooth: and, Head of Ruckholt Adult Education Centre, London Borough of Waltham Forest.

Maria Slowey’s research and policy activities focus on comparative policy and sociological analysis of equity and access to post-compulsory education and training over the lifecourse. 
She has published widely on these matters and acted as expert advisor and committee member at national and international levels to inter alia: OECD (including, in 2014, an OECD National Review of the Education System of Indonesia); UNESCO; EC; European Universities Association; Council of Europe; European Training Foundation; Scottish Parliament; and the Higher Education Funding Councils of England and Scotland. In 2015 she worked for several months in Indonesia as an International Expert on an EU and Australia Aid project supporting the development of the Indonesian Framework of Qualifications.

Research and policy committee memberships have included: British RAE (Research Assessment Exercise) Panel for Continuing Education (twice); several committees of HEFCE and SHERC (Higher Education Funding Councils for England and Scotland); Strategic Research Board of the British Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC); Vice-Chair of the £35m ESRC Teaching and Learning Research Programme; Board member of the Irish Central Applications Office (CAO) and various statutory and working groups of the Irish Universities Association (IUA).  She is active in relevant learned societies, serving as Vice-Chair of Council and Chair of the R&D Committee of the Society for Research in Higher Education (SRHE), Executive member of UALL (Universities Association of Lifelong Learning) and founding member of the HER Network (Research on Higher Education Reform). Editorial Boards include Studies in the Education of Adults, Journal of Adult and Continuing Education and The Adult Learner and the Springer Lifelong Learning Series.

She has been a visiting scholar at the leading international centres in the field, recently: Universities of Oxford; Melbourne; Stanford; Duisberg-Essen and Florence. Educated in University College Dublin and Trinity College Dublin, in 2009 Maria was elected an Academician of the British Academy of Social Sciences (AcSS) and in 2014 elected Vice-Chair of the Royal Irish Academy (RIA) Committee for Social Sciences. In November 2015 she was inaugurated into the International Adult and Continuing Education Hall of Fame. 

Research interests

Maria's research and policy interests draw on sociology, policy analysis and comparative education to address issues of: equality of opportunity and widening access to higher education; lifelong learning; comparative tertiary education policy; the role of the university in the community; and, governance and management in higher education.

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 the Education of Adults, the Swedish National Board for Higher Education, the New Zealand Qualifications Authority and the US Advisory Council on Continuing Education.

For current projects and publications please refer to HERC website.