Insights into cross-disciplinary communication, growing partnerships for advancing sciences, and networking without borders
The Consortium support cross-disciplinary academic exchange, international networking, and engaging collaboration in sciences and technology
    Subscribe for updates
    1. Stay up-to-date with the latest developments in science and technology with the AST Consortium newsletter!
    2. Join our community of researchers, scholars, and practitioners and receive exclusive updates on our events, initiatives, and programs.
    3. Subscribe now to access valuable resources, stay informed, and be a part of a dynamic network of professionals committed to advancing knowledge and promoting innovation.
    © AST Consortium. All rights reserves.
    News and Events: AST Consortium in the World

    Martha C. Merrill of Kent State University Joins the AST Consortium to Tackle Research Problems in Education in Central Asia

    The AST Consortium, one of the leading organizations dedicated to addressing pressing research problems in education, has recently welcomed an esteemed expert, Dr. Martha C. Merrill, to its ranks. Dr. Merrill, a Professor of Higher Education at Kent State University, brings with her a wealth of experience and expertise in the field of international education, particularly in Central Asia. Her extensive background in higher education reform and research in the region positions her as a valuable asset in the consortium's efforts to advance educational practices and outcomes in Central Asia. Dr. Merrill's invitation to speak at the International Annual Conference on Recent Research in Education Science (EduResCon 2023), organized by the AST Consortium in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, further highlights her prominence in the field.
    Dr. Martha C. Merrill's research interests revolve around the globalization of quality assessment standards in higher education and the impact of globalization in Central Asia. Her expertise in these areas is widely recognized, making her an ideal candidate to contribute to the AST Consortium's research endeavors. With her comprehensive understanding of intercultural issues, international education, and Central Asia, Dr. Merrill's work has significant implications for enhancing educational practices and policies in the region.
    The AST Consortium has been fostering growing collaborations with educational and research institutions in the United States. These partnerships provide opportunities for knowledge exchange, joint research projects, and capacity-building initiatives.
    Dr. Martha C. Merrill's inclusion in the AST Consortium presents an excellent opportunity to develop collaborations with other prominent experts in the field of education. By engaging renowned scholars and researchers, such as Dr. Merrill, the AST Consortium can further enrich its network and expertise. Potential areas of cooperation with experts may include comparative studies on educational systems, curriculum development, teacher training, and policy analysis.

    Martha C. Merrill lived in the Kyrgyz Republic from 1996 to 2001, while working on higher education reform, and has returned regularly for research and consulting with funding from Fulbright, IREX, and the Asian Development Bank. More recently, she has also been researching the International Branch Campuses and new domestic private universities in Uzbekistan. Her research on Central Asia has been published in the journals Asian Education and Development Studies, The Forum on International Research in Education, Higher Education in Russia and Beyond, European Education, International Higher Education, and Central Eurasian Studies Review, as well as in local journals in Kyrgyzstan. She also has chapters in the books Globalization on the Margins: Education and Post-socialist Transformations in Central Asia; Reimagining Utopias: Theory and Method for Educational Research in Post-Socialist Contexts; Post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan: Political and Social Challenges; The European Union in Central Asia; and the forthcoming Redefining Educational Leadership in Central Asia. With Christopher Whitsel, she has published two works on cultural differences in research ethics.

    Dr. Merrill is a Professor of Higher Education at Kent State University and Coordinator of the program's International Education Certificate. Her degrees are in Russian literature (BA, University of Michigan), Creative Writing (Master's, Boston University), College and University Administration (Master's and Ph.D., University of Michigan) and Islamic Studies (Master's, Columbia University). In addition to her work in Kyrgyzstan, her experience in international and comparative education over three decades includes curriculum design for a planned international college; academic leadership for an education abroad agency; and teaching of international, intercultural, and comparative education courses at the graduate level at two institutions.
    The invitation to join the EduResCon 2023 accepted by Dr. Martha C. Merrill to the AST Consortium strengthens its research capabilities and positions the organization as a key player in addressing research problems in education in Central Asia. Dr. Merrill's extensive experience in higher education reform, international education, and her specific focus on the impact of globalization in Central Asia make her a valuable asset to the consortium's efforts. Moreover, the growing collaborations between the AST Consortium and US educational and research organizations open doors for expanding cooperation and fostering meaningful change in the region's educational landscape. By leveraging the expertise of Dr. Merrill and other prominent experts, the AST Consortium is poised to make significant contributions to educational research and practice in Central Asia, ultimately shaping a brighter future for the region's students and educators.
    "Global Perspectives on Higher Education: Four Inter-Related Themes"
    Abstract of the EduResCon 2023 Keynote Address by Dr. Matha C. Merrill

    Four inter-related themes are affecting higher education institutions in many parts of the world. Central Asian educators have choices to make about how to respond to these four issues.

    Massification (Trow, 2005) means that as a higher education system in a country enrolls larger percentages of the relevant age group, beliefs and practices about what higher education should be change. Three results of massification are relevant to Central Asia. First, massification produces institutional differentiation. Second, massification puts pressures on systems designed to admit and fund a much smaller number of students. Third, different students and subjects require different teaching methods and new skills for faculty.

    Internationalization is an important component of higher education changes, as massification often leads to branch campuses of universities from abroad entering a system, as well as policies and practices being transferred from universities abroad to domestic universities – and not always for educational reasons.

    Privatization is the private provision of formerly public goods. In higher education, this often takes place simultaneously with massification, as the state can not fund all of the new higher education institutions that are needed to meet the increased demand by students and the economy. Not only are new institutions created, but also traditional institutions are expected to generate revenue to supplement state support. Privatization also is connected to both internationalization and to questions of quality, as privatization often means that new, sometimes unknown actors enter the education sphere.

    Questions of quality: Reforms often raise questions of quality: the quality of the old ways, the quality of the new ways, the quality of new educational providers, how to assess quality, and indeed how to define quality. Moreover, in an internationalized higher education world, whose definitions and whose judgements about quality are important in what contexts?

    Central Asian educators have many choices about how to deal with these issues. Ignoring them, however, is not an option.