Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Students as neo-institutional actors : a comparative case study of how German and English undergraduates understand, experience and negotiate higher education
Author: Budd, Richard Christopher
ISNI:       0000 0004 5347 2714
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2014
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
A great deal of scholarly research describes substantial shifts in higher education policy over the past fifteen to twenty years. Against the backdrop of a global knowledge economy, governments and supranational organisations are seeking to harness higher education more closely to economic goals. Trends associated with this shift include the rise of target-driven, performance-based governance structures, as well as increased private tuition and research funding. The adoption of policies in this vein can be seen worldwide, but there is still a great deal of national unevenness. Much of the commentary and analysis of these trends is critical/normative, perceiving them as unwelcome moves away from the sector's traditional missions and towards an excessive instrumentalism of university activity. There is, though, relatively little research that empirically explores student perspectives of how universities operate - perhaps should operate - or how students make decisions in relation to higher education. This study involves in-depth, semi-structured interviews with undergraduate students at two research-intensive universities, one in Germany, the other in England. These countries have responded to knowledge economy discourses in somewhat contrasting ways, and the conditions in which universities and their constituents are situated differ accordingly. Applying a theoretical model based on a form of socio-historical neo-institutionalism, actors' - in this case students' - action is seen as the result of an internal relationship between three areas: personal understandings of context, identity, and decision-making rationales. Each of these themes is explored and then combined through the participants' accounts to develop overlapping but also somewhat distinctive images of studenthood. This thesis seeks to show how, and how far, this is attributable to differences between the national university systems. Within this, evidence will be presented to show how this is mediated at the (nationally-embedded) university level, as well as through individual sense-making.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available