Seminar: Dr Ben Williamson 'Policy networks, performance metrics, and market-making: charting the expanding data infrastructure of higher education'

Policy networks, performance metrics, and market-making: charting the expanding data infrastructure of higher education

Dr Ben Williamson, University of Edinburgh

12-1.30pm, Paterson's Land rm 1.18, Holyrood Road, Moray House School of Education

Watch Ben's seminar via Media Hopper here


Current political priorities to measure the performance of higher education institutions in the UK bring together processes of digitization, datafication and marketization. This presentation charts the expansion of a data infrastructure for the collection, analysis and diffusion of student data. Understood as a dynamic sociotechnical system, the data infrastructure consists of organizations such as HE sector agencies, government departments, think tanks, consultancies, and private tech companies; specific digital platform technologies for capturing, processing and communicating student data as a proxy for institutional performance; and policies relating to market regulation, competition and performance comparison across the sector. The presentation is part of ongoing research to trace how data infrastructure takes part in processes of performance measurement, metrification and marketization in UK HE.


I am a Chancellor's Fellow at the Centre for Research in Digital Education and the Edinburgh Futures Institute, examining the intersections of digital technologies, science, and data with education policy and governance.

My current research focuses on two key themes. One is the expansion of educational data infrastructures to enable information to be collected from schools and universities, then analysed and circulated to various audiences. The second is the emergence of ‘intimate data’ relating to students’ psychological states, neural activity, and genetic profiles, and the implications for increasingly scientific ways of approaching educational policy and practice. 

I previously published Big Data in Education: The digital future of learning, policy, and practice, maintain the research blog Code Acts in Education, and on Twitter I am @BenPatrickWill.


Date of Event 
12 Oct 2018
Event Leader 
Sian Bayne
Paterson's Land rm 1.18
Research Area 
Data Society
Event type