Higher Education Research Centre header
Higher Education Research Centre

Professor Maria

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

Academic biography


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, Ireland, where she also served as Vice President (Learning Innovation). Prior to returning to Ireland she held senior roles in universities in Scotland and England, including: Glasgow University (1992-2004) where she was Professor of Adult and Continuing Education, Vice-Dean Research and Founding Director of the Centre for Research and Development in Adult and Lifelong Learning (CRADALL), and Northumbria University (1984-1992) as Senior Lecturer, subsequently Head of the Centre for Continuing Education and Widening Access.

Her research and policy activities focus on comparative higher education and sociological analysis of equality and access to higher education and lifelong learning opportunities over the life course. She has published extensively on these matters and acted as expert advisor and committee member to a range of bodies and associations including: UNESCO, OECD, EC, European Universities Association, Council of Europe, European Training Foundation, the Scottish Parliament Committee on Lifelong Learning, the Scottish Independent Committee of Inquiry on Student Finance, the UK RAE (Research Assessment Exercise) Panel for Continuing Education, several committees of HEFCE and SHEFC (Higher Education Funding Councils for England and Scotland), the Strategic Research Board of the British Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Irish higher education CAO (Central Applications Office), and the Asia-Europe Ministerial Meeting (ASEM) Lifelong Learning Hub. Maria is active in relevant learned societies in which she has held elected positions including: 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 Vice-Chair of the Committee for Social Sciences of the Royal Irish Academy (RIA).  She is a founder member of the International Advisory Board of the Higher Education Reform (HER) network. In Spring 2020, she commenced a five-year term as Associate Editor of the flagship international journal, Studies in Higher Education – other editorial Boards include Founding Editor of the Scottish Journal of Adult and Continuing Education (subsequently the Journal of Adult and Continuing Education), Studies in the Education of Adults, The Adult Learner, Editorial Board Member for the Springer Lifelong Learning Series and reviewer for the other major HE journals.

Visiting positions at international centres of excellence include: CSHE, Nagoya University (2018); Stanford University, Graduate School of Education (2017); Florence University, School of Education, Italy (2016 and 2017); Oxford University, UK (Kellogg College 1999); DAAD (German Academic Exchange) Guest Professorship, University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany (2011); CSHE Melbourne University, Australia (2009); Cambridge University (Homerton College, 2009); and University of British Columbia, Centre for Policy Studies in HE, Canada (2008).

Maria is an elected Fellow of the British Academy of Social Sciences (FAcSS) (2009) and in 2015 was Inaugurated into the International Adult and Continuing Ed

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.