The paradigm wars rage: the need for an integrated approach for the future of higher education




higher education, epistemologies, paradigm wars, student voice, student partnership


Are higher education researchers at war – with each other? In this invited article, I introduce a keynote manuscript, which I presented at the Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia’s (HERDSA) 2023 conference. Through it, I argue that despite over 30 years of a wealth of qualitative and mixed methods data arising in the field of higher education, quantitative data continues to play an outsized role in university decision-making. This speaks to a hierarchy of epistemologies in our sector, which, ultimately, may limit the sector’s ability to prepare for change or navigate in troubled times. Alternatively, I present an ‘integrated approach’ which would encourage researchers and university decision-makers to equally respect and value the various epistemologies that exist in the study of higher education. Critically, this includes those epistemologies and methodologies that harness the nuanced, complicated data that draws on students’ voices and their lived experiences. I conclude by reflecting on Associate Professor Barbara’s Grant’s concept of “a thousand tiny universities” to consider how each of us, researchers, practitioners, senior leaders, has a role to play in addressing, and correcting, the existing epistemic biases that continue to thwart progress in higher education.


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How to Cite

Dollinger, M. (2023). The paradigm wars rage: the need for an integrated approach for the future of higher education. Advancing Scholarship and Research in Higher Education, 4(1).



Invited Articles