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Open Access Managing the student experience in English higher education: Differing responses to market pressures

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This paper reports on recent research aimed at assessing how the management of the undergraduate student experience in English higher education is changing in the light of the new tuition fee regime introduced in 2012, as well as other government policies aimed at creating market-type pressures within the higher education sector. A distinction was observed between the research-intensive universities studied – defined here as institutions where research income comprised 20 per cent or more of total turnover, with correspondingly strong positions in published research-based rankings – and universities largely dependent on income from teaching, with weaker market positions. Broadly speaking, the latter group were responding to market pressures by centralizing services, standardizing procedures, and strengthening management controls over teaching processes. The research-intensive universities tended to work within existing institutional cultures to respond to students' needs. Organizational change here usually took the form of creating more coherent functional groupings of student services, rather than comprehensive reorganizations. It appears to us that these different responses to a changed environment point to the creation of two distinct English university types, one strongly managerial with 'student as customer' orientations, and a smaller group with less centralized, more collegial cultures.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2016

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  • The London Review of Education is now published by UCL Press. New issues and all the back content shown here are available through ScienceOpen and accessed from the journal's page at UCL Press Founded in 2003 by the UCL Institute of Education, the journal reflects the Institute's broad interests in all types of education in all contexts - local, national, global - and its commitment to analysis across disciplines using a variety of methodologies. It shares the Institute's aspiration to interrogate links between research, policy and practice, and its principled concern for social justice.

    Drawing on these strengths, LRE is a wide-ranging and engaging journal that features rigorous analysis and significant research across key themes in education, including: public goals and policies; pedagogy; curriculum; organization; resources and technology; and institutional effectiveness. Articles and book reviews are written by experts in education, psychology, sociology, policy studies, philosophy and other disciplines contributing to education research, and by experienced researcher-practitioners working in the field. The highest quality of reporting and presentation are ensured through an independent, anonymised peer-review process. As an entirely web-based open access journal, LRE has been able to offer innovative features and formats including: epistolary conversation; colour photos and illustrations; illustrative video clips.

    LRE welcomes relevant articles and book reviews. Please email them to [email protected]

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