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The hidden architecture of higher education: building a big data infrastructure for the ‘smarter university’

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-26
Number of pages26
JournalInternational Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 8 Mar 2018


Universities are increasingly organized and managed through digital data. The collection, processing and dissemination of Higher Education data is enabled by complex new data infrastructures that include both human and nonhuman actors, all framed by political, economic and social contingencies. HE data infrastructures need to be seen not just as technical programs but as practical relays of political objectives to reform the sector. This article focuses on a major active data infrastructure project in Higher Education in the United Kingdom. It examines the sociotechnical networks of organizations, software programs, standards, dashboards and visual analytics technologies that constitute the infrastructure, and how these technologies are fused to governmental imperatives of market reform. The analysis foregrounds how HE is being reimagined through the utopian ideal of the ‘smarter university’ while simultaneously being reformed through the political project of marketization.

    Research areas

  • dashboards, data, infrastructure, marketization, standards, visualization

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