Dr William C Smith

Senior Lecturer in Education and International Development & Director of Internationalisation


William C. Smith is a Senior Lecturer in Education and International Development and Director of Internationalisation at the Moray House School of Education and Sport, University of Edinburgh. Since starting as Director of Internationalisation in September 2023, William has focused his attention on student diversification, alumni relations, and international partnerships. Since 2019, William has been working to strengthen and expand the CEID (Comparative Education and International Development) Community at the Moray House. This includes ensuring all PGT, PGR, Post-docs, and Faculty interested in CEID are able to participate in the Community. The CEID Community consists of three parts: 1) the MSc CEID programme [www.ed.ac.uk/education/msc-ceid], launched in September 2022, in which William currently acts as Programme Director, 2) the CEID Society, a student led society under the umbrella of EUSA [https://www.facebook.com/ceid.edinburgh/; @CeidSociety], and 3) the CEID Research Group [www.ed.ac.uk/education/ceid], where he acts as chair. To follow events and updates on the CEID Community at Moray House join us on Twitter @MorayHouseCEID.

Prior to joining University of Edinburgh, William worked as a Senior Policy Analyst at UNESCO’s Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report where he contributed to the 2016, 2017/8, 2019, and 2020 GEM Report cycles - including acting as lead for the thematic section of the 2017/8 GEM Report "Accountability in Education: Meeting our Commitments". Additional experience includes a prestigious Thomas J. Alexander Fellowship with the OECD and work as a Senior Associate on the Right to Education Index (RTEI). Based at RESULTS Educational Fund and working with civil society partners in Chile, Nigeria, the Philippines, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe, William helped develop and lead the pilot round of the index. In 2018, RTEI was completed in over 20 countries (https://www.rtei.org/en/). 

His experience as a teacher also has a profound impact on his work. Specifically, William worked as 6 years as a secondary social studies school teacher in the United States during the time of No Child Left Behind (NCLB).



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Dual Title Ph.D. , Education Theory and Policy and Comparative International Education, The Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA: December 2014

Minor: Sociology          Concentration: Quantitative Methods

Dissertation: The global expansion of the testing culture: National testing policies and the reconstruction of education.

Advisor:  David Baker


M.A. in International Development, Josef Korbel School of International Studies-University of Denver, Denver, CO: June 2011

Concentrations: Political Theory and Education


M.A. in Teaching, Western Oregon University, Monmouth, OR: June 2003

Concentration: Secondary Social Studies

Thesis: The inclusion of handicapped students and the impact it has on their self concept.

Advisor: Mark Girod


B.S. in Sociology with High Honors, Portland State University, Portland, OR: June 2001

Minor: Psychology

Responsibilities & affiliations

Current Roles outside of Moray House:

BRAC Institute of Educational Development, Bangladesh (https://bracied.com/): Guest Faculty

Data for Children Collaborative (https://www.dataforchildrencollaborative.com/): Academic Lead

UKFIET - The Education and Development Forum (https://www.ukfiet.org/): Executive Committee Memmber



Undergraduate teaching

Past Undergraduate Teaching Experience

  • Introduction to Comprative Education (Penn State University)
  • Education in American Society (Penn State University)

Postgraduate teaching

2023-2024 PGT Teaching Responsibilities

  • Global Governance and Education (Course Organizer)

Past PGT Courses at University of Edinburgh

  • Comparative Education and International Development (Course Organizer)
  • Comparative Analysis in Education (Course Organizer)
  • Education Policy and the Politics of Education (Course Organizer)
  • Conceptualising Research: Foundations, Assumptions, and Praxis

Other PGT/Graduate Teaching Experience

  • Educational Theories and Practices: A Critique (BRAC Institute of Educational Development, Dhaka, Bangladesh)
  • Educational Measurement and Evaluation (BRAC Institute of Educational Development, Dhaka, Bangladesh)
  • International Educational Development (Sorbonne University, Paris, France)

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Areas of interest for supervision


Interested in supervising PhD students pursuing research in areas of education and development. A broad range of topics is considered including:

  • Global Governance and International Organizations
  • SDGs
  • Education and Health
  • Migration
  • Acess and Equity
  • Socio-political dimensions of national development
  • Global-local relationships
  • Critical views on policy discourse, creation, and difussion

I am not a higher education or an international education scholar

Current PhD students supervised

Yuqing Huang: International mobility of early-career researchers: macro structure and agential practice (First Supervisor)

Hazhari Bin Ismail: Education access in policy in promoting equitable quality in early childhood education: a phenomenology study of teachers' perspective in public preschool in Malaysia (Second Supervisor)

Past PhD students supervised

Takuja Numajiri: What matters for improving primary school mathematics education in St. Lucia? (Second Supervisor)

Research summary

Exploring Educations Role in Social and Economic Development & Barriers to the Benefits of Education.

My research is fueled by the belief that the power of education as an institution is immense, working both as a tool for upward mobility and for social reproduction. However, structural impediments often prevent individuals from fully capitalizing on the potential of education.  Focusing on the role of education in capitalizing health and economic capital my interests are situated around identifying macro level policies that may act as barriers, keeping some individuals from realizing the benefits of education. My work has resulted in over 40 publications, including my edited book, The Global Testing Culture: Shaping Education Policy, Perceptions, and Practice (Symposium Books, 2016).

Current research interests

Current research interests are situated in 3 areas: 1. Education and Social Development a) Barriers to accessing services b) Education and population health 2. Global Governance a) International organizations b) Global goals, monitoring, and local interpretations: a look at voluntary national reviews 3. Global Testing Culture a) Testing, teachers, and accountability b) Global learning metrics

Knowledge exchange

For interviews on the Global Testing Culture see:

Current project grants

Title: A Review of Schools’ Reopening in Scotland and Comparator Countries
Funding Source: Scotland COVID-19 Inquiry
Amount: £24,200
Role/Contribution: Principal Investigator

Past project grants

Title: Summative Analysis of Out-of-school Data and Impact of COVID-19 in Bangladesh, Cameroon, Kenya, Lao PDR, and Madagascar
Funding Source: UNESCO Institute for Statistics
Amount: $6,000
Role/Contribution: Principal Investigator

Title: The Future of Teaching as a Collaborative Profession: What is Needed for Inclusive and Equitable Education
Funding Source: International Task Force on Teachers for Education 2030
Amount: $9,000
Role/Contribution: Collaborating Investigator

Title: Child Poverty and Access to Services
Funding Source: Scottish Funding Council/ Data for Children Collaborative with UNICEF
Amount: £109,137
Role/Contribution: Collaborating Investigator

Title: Universal Secondary Education in the Asia-Pacific Region
Funding Source: Scottish Funding Council
Amount: £20,000
Role/Contribution: Principal Investigator

Conference details

Regular presenter at the annual Comparative International Education Society (CIES) Conference

Past presentations at annual/bi-annual conferences of Population Association of America (PAA), American Education Research Association (AERA), and the European Education Research Association (EERA)

Looking forward to participating more in the British Association for Interantional and Comparative Education (BAICE), the UK Education and Development Forum (UKFIET), and other venues spanning academia, civil society, and practitioners

Invited speaker

Select Past Invited Talks and Guest Lectures:

  • Access and Barriers to Primary Education: An International Perspective (Shijiazhuang Preschool Teachers College, Shijiazhuang, China - Delivered Remotely)
  • The Role of Global Actors in Shaping Education Policy  (University of Kansas, Lawrence, USA - Delivered Remotely)
  • Quality, Equity, and the Role of Learning Assessments (University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, USA - Delivered Remotely)
  • Teacher Satisfaction: Exploring the Role of Teacher Support and Evaluation (Lahore University of Management Sciences, Lahore, Pakistan - Delivered Remotely)
  • The Global Testing Culture: Challenges and Consequences for Today and Tomorrow (Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia)
  • UNESCO and the Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report (University of Luxembourg - Delivered at UNESCO Headquarters)
  • UNESCO and the Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA - Delivered Remotely)
  • UNESCO and the Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report (Linnaeus University, Växjö, Sweden - Delivered Remotely)
  • Global Trends in Education (University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, USA - Delivered Remotely)