Higher Education’s Cluster Model

Feb 27, 2022 by

Some universities are switching things up, moving from a departmental organizational structure to instead using a cluster model to group disciplines. According to Mukhamedov, Khodjamkulov, and Shofkorov (2020) a higher education cluster is a way to counteract the effects of globalization by integrating education, science, and industry around a common goal. The authors detail the goals, objectives, principles, and directions of the pedagogical education cluster in terms of a theoretical and competitive approach. Batagan, Boja, and Cristian (2011) advocate for higher education clusters and to support them through “intelligent educational systems” that are purposeful.

Other college campuses have opted to use the cluster model for freshmen only to help them build relationships and form connections. Meanwhile, South Carolina’s Department of Education encourages two- and four-year colleges and graduate schools to utilize career clusters to help identify possible career pathways for students.

Cluster hiring is also being used by universities to build diversity and inclusion as well as bridge the gaps among disciplines. However, some have said they are unsure of the practice’s effectiveness in fostering interdisciplinary collaboration. Bloom, Curran, and Brint (2020) assert that cluster hire groups do not typically spend much time collaborating with others in their group despite the good intention. But they do help universities to align with emerging research areas in ways that departments may have difficulty doing (Bloom, Curran, and Brint, 2020).


Should universities use a cluster model instead of having academic departments? Should students be clustered by discipline rather than major or academic department? What are the benefits of having a cluster model at your institution?


Higher education, cluster model, disciplinary collaboration, Interdisciplinary Higher Education Research


Batagan, L., Boja, C., & Cristian, I. (2011, April). Intelligent educational systems, support for an education cluster. In Proceedings of the 5th European conference on European computing conference (pp. 468-473).

Bloom, Q., Curran, M., & Brint, S. (2020). Interdisciplinary cluster hiring initiatives in US research universities: More straw than bricks? The Journal of Higher Education, 91(5), 755-780.

Mukhamedov, G. I., Khodjamkulov, U. N., & Shofkorov, A. M. (2020). Pedagogical education cluster: Content and form. Theoretical & Applied Science, (1), 250-257.

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