A Cross-national Survey of Communicators at Higher Education Institutions across Europe

Higher education institutions (HEIs) play a central role in today’s knowledge society. However, little is known about the key actors who communicate scientific knowledge to the public and promote the dialog between science and society: communicators in the central communication offices of HEIs as well as communicators responsible for communication of decentral units (e.g., specific institutes or research centers). Although there is an increasing body of empirical findings from individual countries on the tasks or structures in HEI communication departments, a cross-national perspective on public communication of HEIs has only recently received more attention, with decentral communicators in particular being studied.

This research project contributes to this emerging research field and, in collaboration with the European Association of Communication Professionals in Higher Education (EUPRIO), aims to examine differences and similarities in public communication of HEIs in Europe. It is a follow-up study to its predecessor project C3H, the first research project in Switzerland to monitor and compare nationwide developments in HEI communication, which runs until 2023 and is funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF).

Based on a comparative survey design, this project will examine communicators’ role conceptions, ethical perceptions, and experiences with hostility. Moreover, the study will capture the communication goals, target groups, channels of communication, as well as structural changes in HEI communication following the COVID-19 pandemic. The results will provide the first large-scale empirical insights into the similarities and differences in HEI communication across European countries, as well as across different types of HEIs, such as full research universities or universities of applied sciences.

Runtime: 2022

Funding: European Association of Communication Professionals in Higher Education (EUPRIO), Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) and IKMZ

Participants: Prof. Dr. Mike S. Schäfer, Dr. Silke Fürst, Isabel Sörensen, Dr. Daniel Vogler & Dr. Sophia Charlotte Volk

Total Funds: 2,500 CHF (EUPRIO) and own funds (SNSF/IKMZ)