• Meet the Team

Karen MacFarlane

Karen MacFarlane

Currently carrying out research and an evaluation of GCU’s Advanced Higher Hub, Karen’s other institutionally focused research projects have included a Thematic Review of Blended Learning and  a Gender Study which set out the gender profile of GCU students and explored strategies to increase male participation at GCU. Karen is also leading the current HEA project, ‘Students in transition: a lifecycle approach in Scottish Higher Education: A review of research, policy and practice.’ Karen is also the University’s representative on the Universities Scotland working group on Widening Access measures.

Karen graduated with a First Class Honours degree in Psychology from the University of Glasgow in 1987. Karen’s background in research and development spans a 28 year career starting in psychological research at the University of Manchester in 1987 and moving on to lead a number of research projects for the Scottish Qualifications Authority before joining GCU in 1996 to lead the FE/HE Links project.

This research work led to a new developmental role for Karen when she helped to establish and then manage GCU’s Greater Glasgow Articulation Partnership (formerly the College Articulation Project), a role which also included liaison with external stakeholders in relation to policy and practice (partner colleges, Scottish Government, SFC, QAA, Universities Scotland, SCQF, SDS, etc.). From 2011-2015 Karen’s role as GCU Widening Participation Manager involved monitoring and evaluating the impact of a range of widening participation activities, at GCU targeted at transition, progression, and retention; developing GCU’s Schools and Colleges Engagement Strategy and developing the Transition and Progression Road Map; monitoring and reporting the impact of the University’s strategies and procedures to support care leavers; working with GCU’s Strategy and Planning department to establish and maintain a robust data system for reporting progress against Outcomes Agreement targets on participation and progression especially in relation to the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation.

Research interests

Widening participation to HE, transition, progression and retention; articulation; gender; widening access measures.


Connor, C. & MacFarlane, K. (2007), Work Related Learning (WRL) in HE– a scoping study, Centre for Research in Lifelong Learning, Glasgow Caledonian University, Higher Education Academy.

Gallacher, J. & MacFarlane, K. (2005) Higher Education in Further Education Colleges: An analysis and discussion of the available data. Glasgow, SQA.

Gallacher, J. MacFarlane, K. & Caldwell, J. (2004) Progression of HN holders into employment: a study based on available data sources. Glasgow, SQA.

Gallacher, J., Leahy, J. & MacFarlane, K. (1997) Department for Learning and Educational Development and Department of Economics, Glasgow Caledonian University, ‘FE/HE Links: New Pathways into Higher Education’, SOEID.

Gallacher, J., Leahy, J., MacFarlane, K., & Yule, B., (1997), Centre for Continuing Education and Department of Economics, Glasgow Caledonian University, ’FE/HE Links: Evidence of a New Educational pathway’, SOEID.

Reason, J., Manstead, A., Stradling, S., Baxter, J., & Campbell, K., (1990) Department of Psychology, University of Manchester, ‘Errors and violations on the roads: a real distinction?’, Ergonomics, Volume 33, Nos 10/11, pages 1315-1332.

Baxter, J., Manstead, A., Stradling, S.,  Campbell, K., Reason, J., & Parker, D. (1990) Department of Psychology, University of Manchester, ‘Social facilitation and driver behaviour’, British Journal of Psychology, Volume 81, Issue 3, pages 351–360.

Recent conference paper: Connecting the many not the few: a model to support the student journey to Glasgow Caledonian University, Scotland. European First Year Experience Conference, Nottingham Trent University, 10 June 2014.

How to contact Karen

Karen MacFarlane
Researcher, Centre for Research in Lifelong Learning
William Harley Building (room H113C)
Tel: +44 (0)141 273 1341
Email: K.MacFarlane@gcu.ac.uk