Rethinking Higher Education Research: Ontology Mapping of Higher Education Systems

Tanveer HASAN
Tata Institute of Social Sciences, India

University of Illinois at Chicago, United States

EDGE and National Institute of Advanced Studies, India


We propose ontology mapping as a method to study higher education systems systematically and systemically. The method can be used to synthesize extant data from multiple sources to visualize the 'big picture' of the state-of-the-aspiration of the system, and analyse the 'bright', 'light', and 'blind/blank' spots within it. Higher Education strategies can then be directed at managing these emphases. We first present an ontology of higher education system. We then explain the rationale of its construction and its application as a lens to study a higher education system. We illustrate the mapping with our study of the higher education system in Karnataka, India. We will discuss the sources of data, the collection of data, the quality of data, problems with the data, and the coding of data to derive ontology maps of the state-of-the-aspiration of the Karnataka higher education system. We will present a resulting map to illustrate how the method can be used to analyse the emphases and managing them strategically. After highlighting the limitations of the method we will discuss how the method can be improved and applied to other higher education systems. In conclusion, we will project how the method can be used to monitor the evolution of a higher education system over time. Thus, we argue that ontology mapping can provide an excellent foundation for developing evidence-based strategies to transform higher education systems. To sustain the long-term transformation of the system both the knowledgebase and the associated mapping have to grow symbiotically.

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