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Title: Repositioning the student in higher education : policy, strategy and academic praxis
Author: Court, Scott John
Awarding Body: Lancaster University
Current Institution: Lancaster University
Date of Award: 2011
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The thesis explores a series of interrogatory themes in relation to the repositioning of the student in four key policy areas, drawing on multiple methods of data collection and utilising practice theory to understand interpretations of and responses to policy at different levels of the 'implementation staircase' (Saunders 1986). By reconceptualising the implementation staircase model so that it synthesises the notion of praxis with the process of policy development, implementation and adaptation, I demonstrate how different groups of practitioners actively shape the process through their own distinctive agendas, meanings and values. The research illustrates that policy makers and university managers think of students as individuals who make a significant investment, in terms of both time and money, in their employability and future careers. The needs and expectations of students are therefore central considerations in both policy and strategy praxis. Quality assurance policy and strategy provide a regulatory framework which aims to boost market confidence in the quality of teaching in higher education, while quality enhancement is intertwined with wider debates about employability and student satisfaction. The publication of detailed information on student satisfaction serves as a form of normative power that provides insight into the outcomes of improvements in academic practice. Most notably, top-up fees have given added salience to the notion of the competitive market for fee paying students. Academics also think of students as individuals who make a significant investment in their employability and future careers. However, while the aims of student-focused policy and strategy are not in themselves perceived as a threat by academics, there are concerns among this group of practitioners about the loss of academic autonomy. The findings suggest that consumerist frameworks in higher education may deter innovation in teaching and assessment if fee paying students respond negatively to changes in academic practice. The publication of teaching quality information and student satisfaction data represents a threat to the reputations of individual academics and academic units, and student satisfaction policy presents a further challenge to the dominant role of academics in the relationship between expert and learner. Additionally, there is evidence that student recruitment policy has contributed to the intensification of working practices among academics, particularly when resources do not keep pace with increasing student numbers.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available