IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


Student Agency and Self-Formation in Higher Education

06 February 2024, 2:00 pm–3:00 pm

Interior of a library. Image by hit1912 / Adobe Stock.

Join this event for the launch of this new book that argues for positioning students at the centre of higher education.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







Emily Betz

Higher education has broader and more important purposes than what a neoliberal human capital approach would suggest. The narrow definitions in the latest decades have reduced higher education students to consumers, income maximisers, or passive information receivers. How students exercise their agency and realise holistic self-formation in higher education is mostly left behind.
This book argues for positioning students at the centre of higher education, drawing from the concepts of student agency and self-formation. The book brings together disciplinary, cultural, and contextual diversity and provides international perspectives to readers interested in higher education theories, policies, and practices.
In this CGHE webinar, Yusuf Oldac will introduce the book and its sections and chapters. Afterwards, Soyoung Lee and Kelsey Inouye will discuss their chapters. A Q&A session will follow that will be chaired by the host, Simon Marginson, who also contributed a chapter to this book, ‘Antecedents of Student Self-Formation in Social Theory and Educational Philosophy: What Do They Tell Us About Structure and Agency?’
Soyoung Lee’s chapter ‘The Mechanism of Student Agency in Self-Formation Through Knowledge Engagement in Higher Education’ explores how students’ active engagement with disciplinary knowledge contributes to their self-formation. Integrating the call to ‘bring knowledge back in,’ the study reveals the reflexive mechanisms underlying academic self-formation.
Kelsey Inouye will introduce her collaborative chapter with Søren Bengtsen titled ‘New Spaces for Agency in Doctoral Education: An Ecological Approach’. In her part, Kelsey Inouye will introduce how their chapter explores how the ecological university (Barnett, 2018) creates spaces for agency in which doctoral researchers may shape their academic, social, and personal lives.

This event will be particularly useful for researchers, policy makers and teachers.

Related links

About the Speakers

Yusuf Ikbal Oldac

Hong Kong Lingnan University

Yusuf Ikbal Oldac is an Assistant Professor based at Hong Kong Lingnan University. He is also a Core Centre Fellow at the Institute of Policy Studies of the same institution. Yusuf has conducted his doctoral training at the University of Oxford with a full scholarship from the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies. His research focuses on international and comparative higher education in the context of globalisation.

Soyoung Lee

University of Oxford

Soyoung Lee is a DPhil Candidate in Department of Education, University of Oxford. Soyoung’s research interests involve international students, student agency and cultural differences in higher education. Soyoung’s research is fully funded by University of Oxford and her thesis involves comparing international and local higher education as student self-formation by integrating empirical and conceptual approaches.

Kelsey Inouye

University of Oxford

Kelsey Inouye is a Research Associate at the Centre on Skills, Knowledge, and Organisational Performance, University of Oxford, and a Supernumerary Fellow at Jesus College. Her research areas include doctoral education, scholarly communication, and PhD career trajectories.