Higher Education Quarterly

Published by Wiley
Online ISSN: 1468-2273
Publications
Article
This paper explores the effects of changes in funding arrangements, particularly fees, on universities, and their strategic responses to these changes. Using data from interviews with senior managers in four universities, it finds the most prestigious, pre-1992, university largely unaffected by tuition fees and the others responding to changes in application patterns and intake. However, the effects of tuition fees on university strategy are not easily separated from other changes in the funding of Higher Education, and universities strategies were strongly influenced by the need to reduce costs and to generate income in a number of areas. A second major concern of all four universities was quality both of inputs such as students and staff and outputs, in degree results and ratings in employability, research, teaching and other activities. Marketing was assuming a position of increasing importance, with universities striving to develop a ‘brand’ to attract students, staff and funding.
 
Article
The recommendations of the Dearing Report concerning research organisation and content are critically examined. Many of them are seen to be benign and to adopt an appropriately pluralist approach to the objectives and working of the higher education system. The report is criticised, however, on several grounds. The Committee had a fragile grasp of the nature of knowledge and of its modes of production, and failed to remedy this by consulting sufficiently available international and national research. It is, therefore, inadequate as an example of the way in which research on higher education should be used in determining higher education policy. It takes for granted conventional wisdom on several key issues: the application of selectivity in research funding; the priority to be given to areas identified in the still largely unevaluated Technology Foresight programmes, and the relationships between uni- and multi-disciplinary work.
 
Article
This article, adapted from an address given in November 1988 to the Centre for Educational Development and Training at Manchester Polytechnic, offers an analysis of some of the problems of developing a coherent policy for research. It distinguishes three types of research, recognises the difficulty of defining an adequate level of support for basic research, and proposes some reforms of current arrangements.
 
Article
Participation rates in higher education are an important indicator to pursue one of the main European policy objectives, which is to increase the proportion of population attending higher education. A model used to detect the determinants of participation rates is proposed in this paper, and it is empirically tested for 14 European countries through a five-year panel regression. The model considers the potential explanatory factors as follows: the country's socio-economic conditions, the human capital stock, the organisation of the higher education sector, the higher education expenditure. The results show the important role of financial resources devoted to higher education; but also, as expected, the influence of other factors. More specifically, there is a role for the variables related to higher education organisation and structure, also confirming that higher entry rates are influenced both by an improvement in public investments in the sector and by organisational elements. These findings are relevant for policy purposes, since they suggest some possible solutions for improving participation rates. Although future research would need to explore the impact of income inequality, the overall level of spending is the key element that influences entry rates. Therefore, in periods of public finance pressure, the best way to resolve this problem could be to improve private resources.
 
Article
With the exception of lecturing staff, research on occupational groups and cultures within the UK higher education system is relatively sparse. This paper focuses upon one specialist group, to-date under-researched but which plays a central role in contemporary higher education administration: graduate research administrators. This occupational group is of particular interest as its members administer and manage an increasing complex and key area of university life, which in many cases appears to span the putative occupational divide between ‘academic’ and ‘administrative’ work. Based upon qualitative interviews with 27 research administrators, and using some of Bourdieu's conceptual devices, the paper analyses particular kinds of informal occupational knowledge and practice, necessary in order effectively to ‘do’ the complex task of research administration in the pressurized environment of contemporary British higher education.
 
Article
The authors' survey showed that the role of good qualifications in accessing better jobs can be overstated. For a young person seeking their first job in the 1980s it helped enormously to be born the right sex and the right colour into a family with the right occupational connections.
 
Article
The questionnaire survey reported in this paper is part of an ongoing evaluation of the effect of a bursary scheme on recruitment to Cambridge University. It sought to identify factors that encouraged or discouraged highly successful A Level students from applying to Cambridge. Findings reveal three main dimensions associated with the decision to apply to Cambridge, the nature of the courses, the prestige of the university and anxiety about the application process combined with fear of failure. Further analyses showed that there were complex interactions between these three dimensions which governed the decision to apply to Cambridge. These findings are relevant to other prestigious universities. The availability of a bursary did appear to influence the decisions of those who were eligible, but its influence was not as great as some of the other factors.
 
Article
Between 1939 and 1999, when the Australian population increased from 7 to 19 million, university enrolments rose from 14,236 to 681,870. Until 1974 the most notable changes were the increases in the size of universities and of departments (which encouraged greater specialization), continued increases in research expenditures, in the percentage of postgraduate students, and a gradual decline in collegiality. In 1974 the Commonwealth Government assumed full responsibility for government grants to universities and abolished fees at just that time when growth rates in the economy fell sharply. Government influence on the universities increased, and there were some departures from the no-fees policy for international and postgraduate course-work masters and diploma students. Then in 1988 the Government decided to abolish the distinction between universities and colleges of advanced education, to create through amalgamations a smaller number of much larger universities and to set a specific mission for each university in the interest of economic growth. The Tertiary Education Commission was abolished and the universities dealt directly with the Minister and his Department. The Universities became distinctly more managerial, less collegial, and the range of courses and degrees was greatly expanded. There are now legitimate doubts about the quality of some degrees. Student fees came back, but in a way that reduced the financial burden on the government without giving the universities greater freedom. The government sponsored collective bargaining for university staff but as universities were not given the capacity to earn much additional income, increases in salaries increased student/staff ratios and induced a decline in morale.
 
Article
Assessments of Labour's achievements in education in the immediate post-war period have been largely critical, but almost exclusively focused on schools’ reform. This article in contrast considers Labour's policies for higher education, particularly universities. Three themes dominated the post-war agenda: science and technology, expansion (and access), and appropriate models of higher education. The demands of science and technology and the conse-quent need for expansion were the main drivers in Labour's programme. But the failure to offer a clear view of post-war development in higher education, together with a deep-seated ambivalence as to the role of technology and vocational education in universities, meant that plans for science, technology and expansion were only partially realised. The issue of appropriate models of higher education has bedevilled subsequent Labour governments, including the present administration, in their search for a policy for higher education.
 
Article
This article presents a descriptive account of the pay fortunes of ‘old’university academic staff since 1949. The main issue addressed is the question of whether there can by any remaining doubt that the salaries of academic staff are chronically low, both absolutely and relative to the historic pay movement of other groups in the public and private sectors. It is argued that the highly equivocal conclusions of the National Committee of Inquiry into Higher Education (NCIHE) on pay levels would be unwarranted in the light of the evidence set out in the paper. This evidence includes two reports prepared for the NCIHE but delivered to it at a late stage in its deliberations.
 
Article
For the past forty years, institutional mergers have been a major and controversial theme in Australian higher education. Three main phases of major mergers are reviewed with particular attention being paid to reasons for merger, success factors, and longer term results. While merger experiences have often been traumatic for participants and participating institutions, on balance the longer term results have been positive, producing a university system today comprising relatively large and comprehensive institutions, well suited to compete in the new internationally competitive environment.
 
Article
The New Universities of the 1960s began as a dream and degenerated into a myth before waking up to reality. The dream was to reform English higher education by example: to recover advanced general education, restore small-group teaching, renew interest in research, introduce cross-disciplinary subjects, and rebuild community in green-field, residential sites. Early euphoria turned to disillusionment, born of unrealistic expectations and student unrest. Finally, they achieved solid institutional success but failed to transform national higher education.
 
Article
This paper examines the long term pattern of starting and early-career salaries of U.K. university graduates relative to average non-manual earnings. Salary statistics collected by several university careers services are aggregated to create a new data-set which records starting salary trends at aggregate, faculty and subject levels, and data from the 1960,1970 and 1980 graduate cohort surveys are used to extend the investigation to later years. Considerable differences in remuneration across subjects are reported but the paper demonstrates that graduate starting salaries, generally, have been substantially below average non-manual earnings throughout the period since 1960. Further, graduates’ relative position has deteriorated over time: whilst at the start of the period graduates six years into their careers could, in most subjects, expect to earn more than the average non-manual wage, by the end of the period, this was no longer generally so. The paper offers an explanation of graduate salary trends, viewing these as the result of changing demand and supply forces in the graduate labour market, and it concludes by addressing some of the key policy and planning issues to which an awareness of salary levels is relevant.
 
Article
The Robbins Committee (Committee on Higher Education 1963) is often given as the cause of university expansion in the 1960's. This important report was, however, the result rather than the cause of the expansion. The policies recommended by the Committee were already in being during the 1950's and the Robbins Committee served merely to confirm the trends determined by the University Grants Committee in response to growth in the age cohorts, rising expectations of better qualified school leavers who had stayed at school longer and belief in expenditure upon higher education as a means of procuring national prosperity. New universities were created partly to cope with the expansion in numbers but also with a view to injecting fresh thinking into the university system. The new universities tended to be placed in the south east and in old cathedral and county towns but this was as much because of the enthusiasm and donations of local people as because of any preference for such locations.The next expansion will be less easily achieved and may include preference for polytechnics, worsening staff-student ratios and lower per capita costs.
 
Article
The development of a planning body for public sector higher education in England has created the potentiality for an integrated planning approach to university and non-university higher education. Following a difficult birth, the National Advisory Body has worked with the University Grants Committee on a range of transbinary issues. The contrasting relationships between the Department of Education and Science and the two planning bodies is discussed and the need for further developments of the planning machinery debated. The arrangements for Wales and Scotland are also discussed.
 
Article
After a brief resumé of the background to the growth of the university system in the sixties and seventies, - the period of the Robbins report and its implementation - the paper discusses in some detail the financial changes that have occurred over the period 1979–1986. This period covers the removal of overseas student subsidies, the massive cuts exercise of 1981, and the reallocation exercise of 1986. The methods of approach used by the UGC to the 1981 and 1986 allocations are compared and contrasted, whilst the paper concludes with some thoughts on the possible long term consequences of the approach that is now being adopted for grant allocations.
 
Article
This article argues that in moving from being self governed to being state governed the policy drivers for higher education are no longer those of the system itself but are derived from a set of policies designed for the reform and modernisation of the public sector of the economy. The formation of higher education policy therefore needs to be reinterpreted as an adjunct of public policy, rather than as something intrinsic to higher education. The impact of ‘new public management’ approaches and of political interventions are explored in illustrating the consequences of the centralisation of the management of the public services and of higher education becoming an issue in national politics.
 
Article
The paper discusses the factors which led to the merger of Royal Holloway and Bedford Colleges, University of London over the period 1981–85 and which resulted in the formation of Royal Holloway and Bedford New College in 1985. The merger was the first step in a radical reorganisation of the nonmedical Schools of London University. The paper examines the internal and external decision making processes involved, as well as the academic and financial planning. It suggests some lessons which might be drawn from the experience, which include the problems of estimating costs and benefits; whether or not there is an optimal minimum size for a university institution even when part of a Federal University; and the problems of reconciling strong creative leadership to deal with a continually changing external environment, with the traditions of participation and collegiality which are thought to have characterised the academic environment.
 
Article
The National Advisory Body was established to advise the Secretary of State for Education and Science on the allocation of money to support advanced work in polytechnics and colleges. The committee system of NAB was representative of local authority and college interests and there was always a tension between NAB and the Department of Education and Science. The paper charts the decisions that were taken by NAB in progressing the 1987–88 planning exercise. The policy context of these decisions is analysed and the political consequences are discussed. The paper argues that the 1987–88 exercise was the wrong approach to the planning problems and that the resulting conflict with the Government destroyed the credibility of NAB.
 
Central government higher education expenditure as a percentage of GDP3 Source: Ministry of Education (2006a).
Change in number of students and faculty, 1990–20066 Source: Ministry of Education (2006b, 2007).
Interview participants
Article
This study uses data summaries and interviews to analyse changes in Hungarian higher education since 1989. The first part of the article relies on statistical data and puts the Hungarian higher education system into the international context. It focuses on enrolment changes, spending patterns and the number and quality of teaching personnel. Available data suggest a dramatic increase in enrolment, coupled with declining or stagnant resources. The second part of the study focuses on micro-level activities of selected universities and departments, with special emphasis on research, teaching, administration and institutional change. The study argues that the creation of a stable, performance-oriented, well-financed higher education system in ex-socialist Hungary has been achieved imperfectly.
 
Article
This paper focuses on the relationship between education and political partisanship, using the British Household Panel Study (1991–1999). It is known that partisanship has been falling in Britain since the mid–1950s. However, voting abstention rose only gradually until the June 2001 election where the turnout (at 59 per cent) was the lowest since 1918. Partisanship also fell sharply during the 1990s. Although social class and education are associated with turnout in the USA, no relationship has been reported in the UK, and voting seems to have been perceived as a citizen duty. However, in the light of recent changes in voting patterns and educational participation, this paper investigates the role of education, contextualising education effects in social class and gender effects. The preferences of young people are observed in their late teens, before entering the labour market or higher education, and are compared with those of the same young people in their early 20s, after completing higher education courses or gaining labour market experience. The BHPS yielded a sample of about 500 young people with the required data over the time period. It was hypothesised that dissatisfaction with government performance would take different forms for the more and the less educated, with the more educated shifting preferences to minority parties while the less educated shift preferences to voting abstention. The hypothesis was confirmed for young men. Endorsement of abstention was very high for adolescent women who also seemed to be more influenced by their family’s social class. However, by early adulthood a lower proportion of young women endorsed abstention than young men. Strong effects of education were still found with more highly educated young women (as with more highly educated young men) being more likely to have party preferences.
 
Article
Since 1990, there has been considerable debate concerning the benefits of the expansion of higher education and the appropriate way to fund such an expansion. This paper demonstrates that three factors are decisive to the individual contemplating higher education: national economic growth; the relative earnings of graduates and non-graduates; the difference between the average and the marginal student. The results, of analysis based on rates of return, reaffirm the view that a proportion of the costs involved in higher education can be transferred to the graduates themselves in the form of loans. However, there appear to be limits to the costs that can be transferred if all students are to judge that undergraduate study is a worthwhile proposition. Notwithstanding this, most students could be lent more income to study than is now the case and indeed an average student would be advised to take any loans despite the greater debt. Marginal students, however, are making a risky private investment and, therefore, any decisions to further expand may result in students not taking up the places.
 
Article
The White Paper Higher Education: A New Framework, (May 1992), announced a set of new policies for British universities and polytechnics without offering either argument or evidence. The policies include the end of the binary system, the creation of new higher education funding councils, and a strong emphasis on new mechanisms for quality assessment and control. The White Paper projects rapid enrolment growth, but says nothing about the resources needed for the expansion or the significance for growth of Further Education or the European Community.
 
Article
My main theme is the relationship between British universities and Government, how it is likely to change in the next few years, and what effect this will have on what universities do and how they do it. I shall discuss what I expect to happen, which is not always what I would wish to see; the weather forecaster who predicts cold and rain does not thereby declare himself a masochist.
 
Article
While students have always found balancing their finances difficult, the current generation are faced with unprecedented debt burdens during and on completion of their studies. Student debt is now an expected outcome of attending university and, apart from the negative consequences it may have on participation in higher education, it may have a detrimental impact on the academic performance and psychological well-being of students as they strive to fund their education and reduce their debt through part-time working patterns. However, student debt can be managed better if students possess adequate personal financial awareness, have a responsible attitude to debt and are able to budget carefully. This study attempts to measure the personal financial awareness, attitude to debt and budgeting capabilities of 149 first-year business school undergraduates using a specially developed test. The mean test score of 34 per cent on the financial awareness section indicates significant gaps in their personal financial knowledge and it appears that they are entering a critical stage of their lives ill-equipped to cope with the severe cash restrictions they will encounter. This study is a valuable starting point in understanding the financial challenges faced by students in higher education in the UK and highlights how academic institutions can provide support to increase the financial awareness of students so that they can manage better their personal finances while at university.
 
Article
This article argues that the constitutions of higher education corporations created by the 1992 Further and Higher Education Act are flawed. It argues that the constitutions were created with insufficient regard both for precedents for the creation of universities and also for emerging problems and principles of corporate governance. This resulted in a model of governance which maximised the role of the vice–chancellor or chief executive and ‘independent members’ of governing bodies, limited the participation of staff and students, and allocated a restricted role to academic boards. This article examines a number of the problems arising from inadequacies in governance in a number of post–1992 universities and their similarity with problems arising in further education colleges who shared common governance arrangements from the 1992 Act. This article compares these problems with governance problems in Australian universities and concludes that there is a need to reform the governance arrangements created by the 1992 Act.
 
Article
Different interest groups define quality in different ways. Enterprises such as education, and, specifically, teacher education, serve many interest groups including funding bodies, employers and students as consumers. Assessment of quality in this context has to take account of the priorities of such groups if the process is to have credibility. Processes involved also have to take account of the purposes to which such assessments might be put. Issues related to the recent cycle of inspections of secondary initial teacher education courses are discussed in the light of these factors. The process is fairly robust and comprehensive and is thus well equipped to inform various stakeholders and to bring about improvement through inspection. Because of a range of variables which have the potential to influence the outcome of an inspection, the process is less valid as a mechanism for influencing resourcing or as a means of comparing quality in initial teacher education with that in other areas of higher education.
 
Article
This paper provides a case-study of the Australian quality assurance or quality assessment program which ran for three years from 1993 to 1995. The program was somewhat unusual among recent experiments with quality assurance in OECD countries in that, while it was based on annual academic audits of participating institutions, it also included publication of detailed annual reports on each institution, national rankings of institutions, and performance funding with additional funds coming from a special additional government allocation. In each of the first two years of the program, the most highly rated universities received an amount of additional funding equal to three per cent of their annual government operating grant.
 
Article
In order to determine trends in the percentages of good degrees awarded, data showing the awards profiles for the five academic years 1994–95 to 1998–99 for universities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland were analysed by institution and by subject area. Although earlier research had shown a rise in the modal class of honours degree over the period 1973 to 1993, the present analyses demonstrate that, although there is an overall upward trend in the percentage of good degrees, the direction of the trend has varied from subject area to subject area. In seven of 17 subject areas, the upward trend is, statistically, reasonably robust. The trends in individual institutions have varied, probably as a result of differing combinations of influences.
 
Article
Attention has recently focused on sectoral concern with assessment and feedback as a result of the National Student Survey. Government, the higher education agencies and the NUS have called for urgent action to address this concern. Existing data from institutional student feedback surveys, using the Student Satisfaction Approach, some dating back well over a decade, shows that the issue is not a new one. Indeed, several institutions have been addressing student concerns and as a result, have seen student satisfaction increase.This paper explores the existing student feedback data in order to identify not only how students' perceptions of assessment and feedback have changed over time but also the main concerns of students and institutions and what action has been taken by institutions to increase satisfaction.Several main concerns emerge from the data. Students value feedback as it is re-assuring as an indication of their progress and that it should be timely. Institutions that have used the Student Satisfaction Approach are concerned to clarify their processes to students, to increase their own efficiency in returning work, to monitor and review their assessment and feedback régimes and to share good practice, both internally and externally. Action taken as a result of listening to the student voice results in increased satisfaction but this can take several years.
 
Article
Ratings awarded to university departments in the UK Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) 2001 were analysed to determine whether they were influenced either by the status of the university (pre-1992 or post-1992) or by whether the university was represented on the panel that determined the ratings. There was little evidence that panel membership has any effect on ratings, but an analysis of covariance also showed that, among universities not on the panel, pre-1992 universities were more favourably assessed, relative to post-1992 universities, than would be expected on the basis of their ratings in the 1996 RAE. This finding, along with the preponderance of pre-1992 universities on all panels (even those where the majority of the research is conducted by post-1992 universities), is used to urge strongly that in future RAEs, panel membership should be made much more representative of higher education in general and of the institutions submitting the research considered by each panel in particular.
 
Article
The persistence of the social class gap in higher education (HE) participation presents one of the biggest challenges for the English HE sector at the start of the 21st century. This paper considers the evidence collected by the Aimhigher partnerships in the South West of England to assess the progress towards closing the social class gap in HE participation within their region. Since Aimhigher is a complex, long-term initiative, these partnerships have adopted a multi-strand approach to evaluation through a combination of secondary data, activity and quality indicators, and a longitudinal tracking study. Encouragingly, the social class gap is beginning to narrow as the number of applicants from upper social groups has fallen slightly while those from other social groups increased by 25 per cent between 2000 and 2004. HE awareness, aspirations, attainment and educational progression are also increasing. The paper raises three policy issues concerning targeting, sustainability and vocational progression. Engaging the ‘right’ beneficiaries remains a key concern. The tracking study indicates that, although over 80 per cent of Aimhigher beneficiaries have the ability to progress to HE and would be first-generation entrants, only one in three comes from a manual background. The findings, however, indicate that compared with their peers whose parents have HE experience, these first-generation entrants were less well informed about HE, less likely to aspire to HE by year 11, to progress to level 3 or to study A-levels. These findings suggest that the focus on first-generation entrants remains appropriate. Second, although wider participation in HE is beginning to happen, there is still a long way to go. Sustaining the Aimhigher programme into at least the medium term is essential if it is to complete the work it has begun and maintain the trust of the communities within which it works. Finally, the paper finds that the Aimhigher cohort includes learners who want to take a vocational route into and through HE and who are at present less well served by current provision.
 
Article
Ireland has experienced substantial increases in participation in higher education in recent years. This paper examines whether or not increased admission rates between the mid-1990s and 2000s led to a reduction in social class inequality in access to higher education. We draw on two data sets, one, a dedicated survey of new entrants to higher education in 2004, the other, a combination of the results of a series of school leavers' surveys conducted in the mid-1990s and early 2000s. We show that the period has been characterised by both continuity and change. Continuity is reflected in persistent social inequalities in access to higher education: the children of higher professionals and farmers, in particular, have maintained their privileged access to higher education. Change is reflected in some closing in relative social inequalities, partly arising as more advantaged groups reach a saturation point in progression to higher education, and partly due to the children of manual workers increasing their participation rates.
 
Article
British institutions and individual academics have in recent years suffered large losses, perceived and real, in their autonomy; either to a hostile State or to managers within the institutions. This paper looks at recent research evidence, to see which autonomies may have survived and how important they are. Signs are found that the culture of autonomy in Britain is still strong, that managers are under pressures to enlist scholarly support and that political ideologies do not always retain some significant control of their own values. Some basic British assumptions, mainly historical, about administration and about the state here and in Europe are then looked at, where it seems that misunderstandings may contribute to the current crisis, perhaps collapse, of confidence within the universities. If these understandings could be seen in a wider context, the crisis itself might become more manageable.
 
Article
Under a Federal Labor Government, over the past three years Australian higher education has undergone dramatic and fundamental restructuring and redirection. The programe of reform has been extensive, covering numerous aspects of the structure and work of higher education and how higher education relates to government. This paper concentrates on two aspects – abolition of the binary system, and the dramatic reduction in the number of separate institutions through institutional amalgamations.
 
Top-cited authors
Celia Whitchurch
  • University of London
Simon Marginson
  • University College London
Bruce Macfarlane
  • University of Bristol
Ben Jongbloed
  • University of Twente
Yvonne J. Moogan
  • University of Salford