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  • Author or Editor: Rosie Alexander x
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Existing policy discourses in the north of Scotland focus on expanding higher education provision in the region in order to support both individuals (and their aspirations) and the regional economy. However, drawing on data from a research project with students from the islands of Orkney and Shetland, the chapter argues that there are significant limitations in the capacity of on-island higher education provision in the small islands in the region to meet the needs of all islanders and all areas of the economy. Rather, this chapter suggests that higher education planning in small islands needs to acknowledge intersecting local, regional, national and global dynamics in provision of higher education, and move towards thinking about how to function effectively within these dynamics. This involves accounting for skills flows and skills routes, and considering not just on-island higher education delivery but also the accessibility of, and routes through, other (mainland) higher education providers.

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The introduction sets out the key rationale behind a book focusing on higher education in small island contexts and introduces the key themes for the book. The chapter starts by focusing on the value of a small island lens for surfacing and exploring issues of place and mobility, which are significant concerns in higher education provision more generally. The chapter then moves to providing an overview of existing literature relating to island higher education, drawing particularly on a body of work developed in the 1980s and 1990s on higher education in small states, which includes island states. Key themes from this literature are explored and contextualized in relation to current themes in higher education scholarship and the context of the small island (rather than the small state). The chapter concludes by introducing the structure of the book and providing an introduction to each of the chapters.

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This collection shifts the focus of higher education research away from the traditional urban centre and onto small island contexts across the world. Introducing the small island as a context for higher education delivery this book extends beyond the existing literature on higher education in small states, arguing for the value specifically of the small island as a conceptual frame for exploring multiscalar dynamics between global, national and local contexts in higher education provision. Drawing on examples from around the world, the book identifies how the small island opens critical questions relevant to higher education scholarship much more widely about the purposes and functions of higher education especially in relation to national, regional and local development, as well as questions about specific issues in higher education such as quality and management. The insights offered by the contributions in this book will be relevant to higher education scholars as well as scholars in the field of island studies, and especially those concerned with the relationship of higher education provision to regional and island development.

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Challenging the Geographies of Centrality and Remoteness

This collection shifts the focus of higher education research away from the traditional urban centre and onto small island contexts across the world. Introducing the small island as a context for higher education delivery this book extends beyond the existing literature on higher education in small states, arguing for the value specifically of the small island as a conceptual frame for exploring multiscalar dynamics between global, national and local contexts in higher education provision. Drawing on examples from around the world, the book identifies how the small island opens critical questions relevant to higher education scholarship much more widely about the purposes and functions of higher education especially in relation to national, regional and local development, as well as questions about specific issues in higher education such as quality and management. The insights offered by the contributions in this book will be relevant to higher education scholars as well as scholars in the field of island studies, and especially those concerned with the relationship of higher education provision to regional and island development.

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This collection shifts the focus of higher education research away from the traditional urban centre and onto small island contexts across the world. Introducing the small island as a context for higher education delivery this book extends beyond the existing literature on higher education in small states, arguing for the value specifically of the small island as a conceptual frame for exploring multiscalar dynamics between global, national and local contexts in higher education provision. Drawing on examples from around the world, the book identifies how the small island opens critical questions relevant to higher education scholarship much more widely about the purposes and functions of higher education especially in relation to national, regional and local development, as well as questions about specific issues in higher education such as quality and management. The insights offered by the contributions in this book will be relevant to higher education scholars as well as scholars in the field of island studies, and especially those concerned with the relationship of higher education provision to regional and island development.

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In this final chapter of the collectionwe return to the aims and objectives of the book, and explore the emerging themes across the collection, as well as indicating future areas for study. The first section of the chapter draws together themes around conceptualizing the ‘small island’; the second section explores how the small island context offers scope for reconceptualizing higher education provision; and the final section outlines the value of a future research agenda focused on higher education in small islands.

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