Research interests

NEW RESEARCH PROJECT: SIHEG - Student Impact on Higher Education Globally  (

Timeline: 1 May 2021 - 1 September 2022

Manja Klemenčič is Principal Investigator of the research project SIHEG - Student Impact on Higher Education Globally which is conducted  in partnership with researchers from the Global Student Forum (GSF).

Project objectives:
SIHEG project examines student political agency and maps existing opportunities for students to influence higher education and their societies. The guiding research questions for this research project are twofold: (1) How do students enact political agency in higher education and society at large? (2) How student organizing, student representation and student politics compare across countries worldwide? The objective is to advance the understanding of student political agency in higher education and the impact students have on higher education and their societies through representation. 

A major outcome of the project is a Bloomsbury Handbook on Student Representation Globally (proposal under review), comprising empirical chapters on student representation and politics in 43 countries and on regional student associations and the Global Student Forum. The collection presents an unprecedented empirical coverage of  contemporary student politics in a global comparative perspective.

The chapters draw on data collected through NAT-SIHEG survey (SIHEG 2022) (surveying national-level student leaders with data from 79 countries) and LOC-SIHEG survey (SIHEG 2022) (surveying student leaders on institutional level with data from 41 countries). The two survey instruments specifically developed for this research project yielded the largest existing data set on student politics globally. The findings in the chapters also draw on the content analysis of formal documents and data obtained through expert interviews. Furthermore, the collection seeks to reexamine, revise, and further develop the existing theoretical concepts and analytical lenses in existing research on student politics. Each chapter starts with an extensive review of literature. As part of the research project, contributors created a collective SIHEG library containing not only the most important international publications in this field, but also the often-unnoticed works from national publishing venues and in languages other than English.

The research project is the first large-scale global collaborative research on student agency and student impact in higher education. This collection and SIHEG research project are a result of a unique resaerch partnership between one notable scholar of student politics, and the Global Student Forum (GSF) joining together as co-editors of the volume as well as 60 contributors from 43 countries from all world regions.  SIHEG research project not only generates original knowledge on contemporary student politics worldwide but also builds capacity of student leaders and their associations and movements to conduct research and publish on student politics. Each of the student leaders involved in SIHEG project is an authority in student politics with vast substantial and procedural knowledge, experiences, and networks.


Key points:
- A unique democratizing-research project based on partnership between a leading scholar on student politics and 34 student leaders with vast substantial and procedural knowledge, experiences and networks joining as core research team and co-editors of the volume

- A truly global coverage with empirical chapters from 41 countries from all world regions written by 60 authors, and 7 chapters by 14 authors on regional student associations and the Global Student Forum active in the transnational higher education policy arena

- Reexamines and advances theoretical approaches to study of student politics globally

- Based on rigorous research drawing on interviews, formal documentary sources and the largest existing dataset obtained through global surveys: NAT-SIHEG (2021) surveying national student leaders with data from 79 countries and LOC-SIHEG (2021) surveying student leaders within institutional governance and with data from 41 countries

- Makes a major contribution to understanding contemporary student politics globally



Mahindra Seminar



Klemenčič's research spans several areas within sociology and politics of higher education, and is mostly international comparative and or focused on European higher education.

Student agency and the impact of students on college

The study of higher education impact on students has been one of the most prolific subfields in sociology of higher education and explores variety of ways that higher education influences student outcomes. Klemenčič's research seeks to corrects this one sided perspective arguing that student too have impact on their colleges and universities.  Klemenčič introduces theory of student agency as students’ capabilities to intervene in and influence their learning pathways and educational environments. She investigates student impact on higher education through student representation, student activism, student voluntary service and student campus employment as students having direct effects on higher education. In addition, she investigates indirect effects students have on higher education through consumer preferences and consumer behaviour. 


Student centred learning and teaching in higher education

Klemenčič has investigated European policies and practices on SCLT both analyzing the theoretical underpinnings of policies and offering prescriptive advice. With Sabine Hoidn she developed the model of student centered learning and teaching ecosystems and theorized student agency and actorhood in student centred learning and teaching.SCLT ecosystem

Quality assurance and institutional research in higher education

Klemenčič investigated institutional research in Europe and in Central and Eastern European countries and student involvement in quality assurance. 


Civic role of higher education and higher education for democratic citizenship

In research on civic role of universities, Klemenčič has focused mostly on education function preparing students for democratic citizenship and civic engagement. Klemenčič argues that to develop students' civic agency and dispositions for active citizenship and civic involvement two measures are needed. One is to build-in these topics into regular classes and create connections to real-world problems as part of the existing course offer when possible (as opposed to offering special "civics" courses). Another measure is for universities and colleges to operate as sites of citizenship and civic involvement. Through practices of student representation in decision-making and offering opportunities to students for public service on campus, colleges and universities enable student university citizenship. Through representative and service roles, students learn how to enact their civic agency in an institutional context. Any by having opportunities for civic engagment their sense of belonging to the home institution and their sense of ownership of their institution strenghten. Both are important for student wellbeing. 


Academic profession and conditions of academic work

Klemenčič has been a member of the Slovenian research team within the Global Network on Academic Profession in Knowledge Societies (APIKS), which is a continuation of decades long international comparative research on Changing Academic Profession (CAP). Over 20 national teams are conducting system-wide surveys of academic staff based on a common questionnaire. The Slovenian team conducted a system-wide survey in 2013 and 2018 on the conditions of academic work and the state of academic profession. Klemenčič was specifically interested in the questions of academic imbreeding in the Slovenian academic space and academic staff's agency towards internationalisation of higher education.


Internationalization of higher education

Klemenčič's most important contribution in this area is on internationalization of higher education in peripheral countries and on academics as agents of internationalization. She developed a framework for integrated international engagements arguing for multiple layers of international cooperation as "gears" that mutually reinforce internationalization efforts. Klemenčič also researched the effects of Erasmus programme on higher education developments, and regional cooperation in higher education.

Gear effects of integrated international engagements

The gear effects of integrated international engagments (Klemenčič 2015, p. 6)


Higher education policies and reforms

Klemenčič has researched various aspects of higher education policies and reforms in general, and in Europe, Western Balkans and Slovenia in particular.