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Professor Manuel Souto-Otero

Professor Manuel Souto-Otero


School of Social Sciences

+44 (0)29 2087 0327
Room 1.21, Glamorgan Building, King Edward VII Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3WA
Media commentator
Available for postgraduate supervision


My main areas of interest are education policy analysis and evaluation. I have a particular interest in the link between education and work (including, although not restricted to, digitalisation, the future of work and its implications for skills development), social stratification and inequalities, internationalisation in education and internatinonal student mobility and the governance of education systems (including non-formal education). Most of my work focuses on post-compulsory education. I make use of a range of qualitative and quantitative methodologies in my work.

I am Co-Director for Teaching and Learning (Employability and Enhancement) in the School of Social Sciences and Head of the Education Research Group. I am currently Co-Principal Investigator in the project "Digital Disruption and the Future of Work: Reimagining Education, Skills and Employability" -see "Research" tab for further details. I am also a Senior Professorial Fellow at the Singapore University of Social Sciences.

I have undertaken a large number of consultancy projects on education issues for the European Commission, European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop), the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), various government departments in the UK and internationally, think-tanks and voluntary sector organisations. I have been grant reviewer for various organisations, amongst others: DG Education and Culture, European Commission; DG Research, European Commission; Research Council of Norway; Research Foundation - Flanders. 

I hold a DPhil. in Social Policy from the University of Oxford. I am originally from Santiago de Compostela.


Honours and awards

Best Article Award "2021 Comparative and International Education Society Study Abroad and International Students Special Interest Group" for Van Mol, C., Caarls, K. and Souto-Otero, M., (2020) International student mobility and labour market outcomes: An investigation of the role of level of study, type of mobility, and international prestige hierarchies. Higher Education, pp.1-27.

Runner-up for “Educational Review Article of the Year 2013" for Souto-Otero, M. (2013) ‘Neo-liberalism and continuing vocational training governance in the UK: an examination of three theoretical accounts’ Educational Review, vol.65(1), pp.20-35.

Professional memberships

  • Associate Editor: Journal of Education and Work,
  • Member of the Editorial Board: British Journal of Sociology of Education,
  • Member of the European Sociological Association,
  • Member of the European Evaluation Society.

Speaking engagements

I have been a plenary speaker at academic and professional conferences in a large number of occasions, I have blogged for various organisations (Microsoft Europe, Organising Bureau of European School Students Unions, *ResearchProfessional, etc.) on skills-related issues, Media experience: press, radio and tv.

Recent invited talks:

October 2021 "Skills prioritisation and conceptions of education as micro-foundations of class inequalities: an analysis of 28 European countries" Bremen workshop on Developments and Changes in Education Systems across Global Cultural Spheres. University of Bremen, 8th October 2021.

August 2021 "The Learning Outcomes Approach in the European Union" Invited talk at the International Labour Organisation (ILO)/ Cinterfor conference 'Working towards a regional qualifications framework for Latin America and the Caribbean', Montevideo, 5th of August 2021.

September 2019 "Skills, guidance and employment of older people in Europe" Keynote at the 21st International Conference on Training, guidance and employment of the Galician and Portuguese network for the study of work and employment. University of Santiago de Compostela, 21st September 2019.

November 2018: "The impact of the Erasmus programme on higher education staff and institutions in Europe" Presented at the Directorate General for Education and Culture, European Commission. Brussels, 20th of November 2018.

November 2018: "The prospects for skills and employment in an age of digital disruption: A cautionary note". Presented at: Centre for Skills, Knowledge and Organisational Performance (SKOPE), Department of Education, University of Oxford. Oxford, 16th of November 2018.

November 2018: "Non-formal learning and Youth in Europe: activities, initiatives and recognition in the labour market". Presented at: 'Activa't Symposium' Fundació Ferrer i Guàrdia. Barcelona, 9th of November 2018.

October 2018: "Labour market analytics and key industrial sectors in the UK and Wales". Presented at: "Digital Innovation in Wales Seminar" part of the Welsh's Government Independent Review of Digital Innovation. Cardiff, 18-19 October, 2018.

September 2018: "International agencies and norm setting in education policy". Presented at: "The ethics of sustainable prosperity for all" The Learned Society of Wales International Symposium. Magdalene College, Cambridge University. 11-13 September 2018.

July 2018: "The future of VET policies: big data, responsiveness and vocational education and training" Presented at "The future of Vocational Education and Training in Europe" organised by the Austrian Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Vienna, 9-10 July 2018.

April 2018: "Education at the centre of equal opportunity?" Presented at: "The Social Pillar and the European Semester as Tools for Delivering Social Europe -a Reflection with Civil Society" European Centre of Expertise in the field of Labour Law, Employment and Labour Market Policies and DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion of the European Commission, Brussels, 17th April 2018.

Other recent talks/ presentations:

May 2019: "International Student Mobility and European identity" Presented at the "Students in changing higher education landscapes Conference" University of Surrey, 14th of June 2019.

Committees and reviewing

Journal Reviewer:


American Education Research Journal; British Educational Research Journal; Critical Studies in Education; Educational Review; European Journal of Higher Education; Globalisation, Societies and Education; Higher Education; Higher Education Policy; International Journal of Educational Development; Journal of Curriculum Studies; Journal of Education Policy; Journal of Education and Work; Journal of Research in International Education; Journal of Vocational Education and Training; Journal of Youth Studies; Studies in Higher Education.

Political Science and Public Administration:

Evidence and Policy; Journal of Common Market Studies; Journal of European Social Policy; Public Administration; Regulation and Governance; Representation.


British Journal of Sociology of Education; European Sociological Review; Sociology of Education; Work and Occupations; Youth and Society.


















I teach in the areas of education, labour markets, social policy and research methods -from undergraduate to doctoral level.

My research focuses on the following areas:

(1) internationalisation in higher education and international student mobility,

(2) the link between education and the labour market and the future of work,

(3) education policy and educational inequality,

(4) the social and labour market recognition of non-formal and informal learning,

(5) digital governance in education.

Current projects:

'European Network on international student mobility: Connecting research and practice' Funded by the European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST) Action. Period: 2021-2025.

"Building capacities to better integrate non-formal and formal learningg" Funded by the European Commission. Country focus: Estonia. Period: 2021-2023.

"Digital Disruption and the Future of Work: Reimagining Education, Skills and Employability" Funded by the Institute of Adult Learning, Singapore, for the period 2019-2023. Country focus: China, Germany, Finland, India, Singapore, USA, UK and Vietnam.

"Second European Skills and Jobs Survey: The impact of digitalisation and technological change on skills mismatch on EU workers" Funded by CEDEFOP for the period 2020-2022. Country focus: EU countries.

I have recently been part of the following research projects:

  • Skills imbalances in the European Union (DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, European Commission, 2020)
  • Independent Review of Digital Innovation for the Economy and the Future of Work in Wales (Welsh Government, 2019)
  • Building Singapore’s Talent Pipeline: Corporate and International Policy Perspectives (Institute of Adult Learning, Singapore, 2018)
  • Erasmus+ Impact Study (DG Education, Youth, Sports and Culture, European Commission, 2019)
  • A European Inventory on validation of non-formal and informal learning (DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, European Commission, 2018)


I have substantial experience supervising doctoral (PhD/ EdD) theses. I welcome applications for doctoral supervision from highly energetic candidates in the following areas:
  • Internationalisation in higher education and international student mobility
  • Education and labour markets (including digitalisation, the future of work and skills development
  • Education policy analysis and evaluation
  • European education policy
  • Validation of non-formal and informal learning
  • Digital governance in education

Current doctoral students:

  • Khalifa Al Harmi (Topic: The Impact Of Credentials And Social Capital On Employment Outcomes)
  • Faisal Al Balushi (Topic: The Role Of Student Council Engagement In Shaping Policies In Higher Education)
  • Tassaneeya Robinson (Topic: Digital transformation and the acquisition of digital skills: implications for
    employability and inclusion)
  • Moaath Alhamidi (Topic: Digitalisation and teachers' work in higher education)
  • Rebekah Bawler (Topic: Digitalisation and schools' as learning organisations)

Recently completed doctorates:

  • Dr. Amnah Albehiji (Topic: PhD Degree Mobility and Career Outcomes)
  • Dr. Issa Al Shabibi (Topic: Entrepreneurship Education And Economic Diversification Strategies)

Current supervision

Khalifa Al Hatmi

Research student