Registrar Profile

Academic and administrator with primary interests in identifying the significance of global dynamics for the management and leadership of academic communities and institutions, and working these lessons through into effective organisational practice.


             Dr Rachel Johnson

After a BA (Hons) Modern Foreign Languages at the University of Sheffield, UK Rachel continued her studies under a White Rose PhD Scholarship offered jointly by both Sheffield’s Universities. Her thesis explored how government policy for higher education is transformed and implemented in institutions. Its critical analysis of the effectiveness institutional practice of quality assurance drew on the experiences of both academics and students in giving feedback on curriculum, learning and teaching.

In 1998 – 2000 Rachel worked at Lancaster University as senior research associate to an Economic and Social Research Council study of changes in the management of UK universities. Her published papers covered topics including the significance of resources to organization and management practices; the management of change; managerial concepts of ‘the student’; and, the management/leadership development of academics. In 2000 - 2008 Rachel was Assistant Professor of Educational Research and Evaluation at the University of Nottingham and held three academic-related positions: UK-wide lead for the accreditation of a single professionally qualifying degree; supporting medical practitioners’ engagement in academic research (Universities of Sheffield, Leicester and Nottingham); and leading projects to enhance teaching and learning at Loughborough University. This career included a sabbatical year in which Rachel travelled overland from Cape Horn to Mexico City and set up an English language youth project in the Bolivian Amazon.

Rachel then moved to the UAE as Associate Professor and Assistant Dean of Planning and Evaluation in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at UAEU. She created and took the position of Director of Academic Administration for the College and developed the operations of the Dean’s Office and 12 academic departments. The departments enrolled 3500 mainly Emirati students, were primary contributors to the University’s General Education programme, ran 17 undergraduate and 5 Masters degrees and employed 160 faculty of which 25% were Emirati. Collaborating with the Assistant Dean for Research and Graduate Studies and a visiting professor from Harvard University, Rachel developed the UAE’s first Humanities and Social Sciences PhD programme. Rachel also worked at University level to restructure student academic support services and redefine the university’s expectations for graduation competencies in Arabic, English, Mathematics and employment-related skills. These competencies aligned with the QF Emirates – the UAE framework she helped develop at its initial stages. 18 months before leaving for Singapore, Rachel created and took the position of Director of Academic Quality Assurance for the UAEU serving the purposes of UAEU’s USA accreditation efforts.

Rachel is currently enrolled in a DBA (Higher Education Management) at the School of Management, University of Bath, UK. This part-time research based doctorate is for senior higher education leaders drawn across the globe. Its focus is predominantly international and examines connections between theory, practice and policy of higher education organization/ management. So far Rachel’s work focused on: ‘national’ systems of higher education and the influence of local and international dynamics; globalization and quality assurance / accreditation practices; and, how little is known about international academic migration in general, or specifically the competencies accrued by transnationally mobile academics. Her thesis draws on critical organizational theory and postcolonial studies of multinational companies to investigate the international branch campus. It considers how appropriate to realities of in-country branch campus strategy and management are the predominantly binary (home/host) theories and discourses that pepper current research and policy literatures. It suggests ‘host’ contexts are very much more hybrid, dynamic and agentic than has been acknowledged to date.


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