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Title: The changing higher education environment in England : a study of student perceptions
Author: Lecca, Helga
ISNI:       0000 0004 5919 2668
Awarding Body: Brunel University London
Current Institution: Brunel University
Date of Award: 2015
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The English Higher Education system continues to face many political and organisational changes with respect to funding, fees, student numbers and quality controls. Within this changing landscape, the introduction of up to £9,000 annual tuition fees for Home/EU undergraduates probably has the highest impact on students’ perceptions, their decision-making and, most of all, expectations in relation to their university experience. To investigate the implications of recent changes, an exploratory research approach is applied, using mixed methods across three distinct research phases. An initial study aims to measure the expectations of commencing students in light of the fee changes and to explore how demographic and other personal characteristics influence student expectations in relation to their overall university experience and specifically to the ancillary services offered by Higher Education Institutions. Through this, services related to student employability are identified as an area of increasing concern for students. The second study aims to further investigate this area from a student perspective through the exploration of students’ motivations to participate in an extra-curricular employability programme. The expectations regarding such a programme are also investigated prior to the programme and the satisfaction levels of students after the completion of the programme are evaluated. The analysis of the second study suggests that confidence is a key factor within the context of student employability. Consequently, the final study aims to explore the role and importance of confidence within employability from a student point-of-view and to evaluate how confidence and employability may be developed throughout the university experience. From this study, it is argued that Higher Education Institutions should focus on the development of confidence within students in order to improve their employability. As an outcome, recommendations are formed on how to support such development through general and course-specific activities within and outside the curriculum. Overall, the research addresses various gaps within the fields of interest, particularly through the focus on a student perspective, and provides methodological, theoretical and practical contributions. The different stages of the research suggest that it is important to the competitiveness and strength of universities to understand student expectations and to design and develop high-quality university experiences which meet the needs and demands of students. Based on the data collected, recommendations are given on how Higher Education Institutions can manage and meet student expectations and develop activities to enhance student employability and increase confidence.
Supervisor: Macredie, R. Sponsor: Department of Computer Science, Brunel University London
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Student expectations ; Employability ; Employability skills ; Confidence (Development) ; Ancillary services in higher education