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Olena Fimyar


Senior Research Associate, Kazakhstan Project;

Organiser: Kazakhstan programme open seminar series

E-mail Address


+44 (0)1223 767677


  • PhD (University of Cambridge)
  • MPhil (University of Cambridge)
  • BA (Kherson State University, Ukraine)

Membership of Professional Bodies/Associations

  • British Educational Research Association (BERA)
  • British Association for International and Comparative Education (BAICE)
  • European Educational Research Association (EERA)
  • Comparative and International Education Society (CIES)
  • Association for the Study of Nationalities (ASN)

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Olena holds an MPhil and PhD from the University of Cambridge, Faculty of Education and has published extensively on education reform, actors and power of educational policy-making in Ukraine. Prior to joining the Kazakhstan Projects team, she led a project on 'Return Academic Migration in Post-Communist Europe' at the Centre for Area Studies, Free University Berlin and prior to that, a study on the 'Sociology of Post-Communist Intellectuals' at the Collegium Budapest, Hungary. In the past two years Olena has been a visiting scholar at the School of Education, University of Nottingham, a DAAD scholar at the Department of Social Sciences, Goethe University Frankfurt am Main and a Returning Scholar at the Faculty of Political Sciences, Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Ukraine. Before embarking on her research and university teaching career, for five years Olena worked as an EFL teacher in Tsyurupynska Gymnasium, Kherson region, Ukraine.

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Research Topics

  • Education reform and policy
  • Teacher identity
  • Student transition from school to higher education
  • Academic mobility and migration
  • Comparative education

Current Research Projects

  • Internationalization and Education Reform in Kazakhstan

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Selected Publications

Journal Articles

Al Azmeh, Z, Dillabough, J., Fimyar, O., McLaughlin, S., Abdullateef, S., Aldien Aloklah, W., & Rashid Mamo, A., with Abdulhafiz, A., Al Abdullah, S., Al Husien, A., Al Mohamad Al Ibrahim, A., Al Ibrahim, Z., Barmu, B., Farzat, A., Kadan, B. (2019, forthcoming). Cultural trauma and the politics of access to higher education in Syria. Discourse.

Fimyar, O., Kushnir, I. & Vitrukh, M. (2019). Understanding Ukrainian pedagogical sciences through textbook analysis of four ‘Pedagogy’ textbooks. Special Issue Article. European Educational Research Journal, 18(5), 576-595.

Dillabough J., Fimyar, O., McLaughlin, C., Al Azmeh, Z., Abdullateef, S. & Abedtalas, M. (2018). Conflict, Insecurity and the Political Economies of Higher Education: The case of Syria post-2011. International Journal of Comparative Education and Development, 20(3/4), 176-196.

Fimyar, O. (2017). ‘We have a window seat’: A Bakhtinian analysis of international teachers’ identity in Nazarbayev Intellectual Schools in Kazakhstan. European Education: A Journal of Issues and Studies, 50 (4), 301-319.

Fimyar, O. and Kurakbayev, K. (2016). ‘Soviet’ in memories and teachers’ professional beliefs: Points for reflection for reformers, international consultants and practitioners. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 29 (1), 86-103.

Fimyar, O. (2014) Critical Review. What is policy? Sociological perspectives on researching education policy-making – A pre-Foucauldian turn – Educate ~ The Journal of Doctoral Research in Education, 6-21.

Fimyar O. (2011). A manifesto of a post-communist post-structuralist researcher: Post
viva voce reflections, European Education: Issues and Studies, 43 (2), 74-97.

Fimyar, O. (2008a). Educational policy-making in post-communist Ukraine as an example of emerging governmentality: Discourse analysis of selected curriculum choice and assessment policy documents (1999-2004), Journal of Education Policy, 23 (6), 571–593.

Fimyar, O. (2008b). Using governmentality as a conceptual tool in education policy research, Educate ~ The Journal of Doctoral Research in Education, 3-18.

Chapters in Edited Volumes

Fimyar, O., Saniyazova, A., & Mun, O. (2017) Collaborative research: Searching for a synergy in the study of student transition in Kazakhstan, Sage Research Methods Cases 

Fimyar, O. (2014). Five conversations and three notes on the ‘Soviet’, or finding a place for personal history in the study of teacher education policy in Kazakhstan. In Smeyers, P., Bridges, D., Burbules, N. and Griffiths M. eds, International Handbook of Interpretation in Educational Research, Dordrecht: Springer.

Fimyar, O. (2014). ‘Soviet’, ‘Kazakh’ and ‘world-class’ in the contemporary construction of educational understanding and practice in Kazakhstan. In Bridges, D (ed.) Educational Reform and Internationalisation: The case of school reform in Kazakhstan. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 177-195.

Fimyar, O. (2014). Translating ‘Excellence’ into three languages, or how Kazakhstani teachers ‘change’. In Bridges, D (ed.) Educational Reform and Internationalisation: The case of school reform in Kazakhstan. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 301-324.

Fimyar, O., Yakavets, N. & Bridges, D. (2014). Educational reform in Kazakhstan: the contemporary policy agenda. In Bridges, D (ed.) Educational Reform and Internationalisation: The case of school reform in Kazakhstan. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 53-70.

Frost, D., Fimyar, O., Yakavets N., & Bilyalov, D. (2014). The role of school directors in educational reform in Kazakhstan. In Bridges, D (ed.) Educational Reform and Internationalisation: The case of school reform in Kazakhstan. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 217-238.

Fimyar, O. (2010a) 'Policy Why(s): Policy Rationalities and the Changing Logic of Educational Reform in Post-Communist Ukraine (1991-2008)', in I. Silova (ed.) Post-Socialism is not Dead: (Re)reading the global in comparative education. Bingley: Emerald Publishing. Link to the chapter:

Fimyar, O. (2010b). 'The (Un)Importance of Public Opinion in Educational Policy-Making in Post-Communist Ukraine: Education Policy 'Elites' on the Role of Civil Society in Policy Formation'. In S. Fischer and H. Pleines (Eds.), Civil Society in Central and Eastern Europe: Successes and Failures of Europeanisation in Politics and Society, Changing Europe Book Series (Vol. 7, pp. 157-173). Stuttgart: Ibidem Publishers. Pre-publication version available online:

Book Reviews

Fimyar, O. (2013) Book review: 'Borderlands into Bordered Lands: Geopolitics of Identity in Post-Soviet Ukraine', by T. Zhurzhenko (2010) in Ab Imperio, pp. 490-494.

Fimyar, O. (2012) Book review: 'Politics, Modernisation and Educational Reform in Russia: From Past to Present', by D. Johnson (ed.) (2010) in COMPARE: A Journal of International and Comparative Education, 42 (3), pp.553-557.