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Standardising Europe

The Bologna Process and new modes of governing

Andreas Fejes

This article explores how the discourses of the Bologna Process have been accepted and adopted as the dominating ones in European higher education. It consists of a governmentality and discourse analysis inspired by Foucault and based on selected European and Swedish policy documents. The aims of the analysis are to illustrate how governing operates discursively and how it is legitimized, to identify what subjectivities are being shaped and fostered and to de-stabilise the taken-for-granted ideas of the present and so contribute to a space for reflection on how governing and power operate in higher education today.

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Marte Mangset

British universities are known among the other Bologna countries not to have adjusted fully to the new common three-tier degree structure. Is it the case that British higher educational concerns are different from Continental concerns? A study of recent developments in two British graduate schools of history shows that a three-tier study structure was generalised in British universities 15 years ahead of Bologna as the one-year taught master's degree gained ground. This article argues that there were similar concerns related to massification and to an increasing demand for efficiency and employability in British, French and Norwegian higher education policy. These common concerns have been met by common reform measures in the three countries: a transition from individual and unstructured postgraduate degrees to structured and skill-oriented taught degrees. In contrast to the situation in other European countries, the Bologna Process has not represented a legitimate framework for higher education policy in Britain. However, British universities have proved susceptible both to national policy measures and to foreign university models. If the Bologna Process gradually appears as a strong and unified model, the British universities might not be immune to change.

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Susan Wright and Davydd J. Greenwood

This special issue focuses on universities run by and for the benefit of students, academics and the public. Three contributions cover existing initiatives from ‘free’ universities and other long-established institutions that are fee-free and where students and faculty are central to their operations and governance.1 Other contributions focus on using tried and tested participatory organisational structures to create alternatives to the deteriorating state of universities: one sets out ways universities could be run by ‘beneficial owners’; the other reports on a project to design cooperative universities.

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Susan Wright and Davydd J. Greenwood

After analysing the organisational pathologies and societal ills created by the neoliberalisation of universities, the article engages in an organisational critique of the pseudo-business model currently in use. It poses as a solution the re-creation of universities as trusts, with a model of beneficiary ownership, a matrix form of organisation and renewed relations with society. For inspiration it looks to beneficiaryrun organisations on the model of the John Lewis Partnership or the Mondragón University. The article explains why such beneficial matrix organisations are superior to current universities and how they offer an opportunity to recreate universities for the public good.

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Catherine Norma Butcher

This report describes my field visits to Berea and Deep Springs Colleges in the U.S.A. and explores their forms of ownership/control, governance, financing and organisational structure. Berea and Deep Springs are small, liberal arts colleges, distinctive in American higher education, in which students actively participate in a spirit of democracy. This report highlights the relationship between these heterodox organisational forms and student outcomes. It examines the practical significance of these two colleges for education policy and how certain features could be resources for hope used in constructing heterodox higher education institutions in other parts of the world. This report complements that of Wright, Greenwood and Boden (2011) on Mondragón University – a cooperative in the Basque country of Spain – by adding to the body of knowledge on alternative models of higher education institutions.

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Mike Neary and Joss Winn

This report provides an interim account of a participatory action research project undertaken during 2015–16. The research brought together scholars, students and expert members of the co-operative movement to design a theoretically informed and practically grounded framework for co-operative higher education that activists, educators and the co-operative movement could take forward into implementation. Our dual roles in the research were as founding members of the Social Science Centre, Lincoln, an autonomous co-operative for higher education constituted in 2011 (Social Science Centre 2013), and as professional researchers working at the University of Lincoln. The immediate context for the research was, and remains, the ‘assault’ on universities in the U.K. (Bailey and Freedman 2011), the ‘gamble’ being taken with the future of higher education (McGettigan 2013), and the ‘pedagogy of debt’ (Williams 2006) that has been imposed through the removal of public funding of teaching and the concurrent tripling of tuition fees (Sutton Trust 2016).

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Barbara Grant and Penny Welch

Gritt B. Nielsen (2015) Figuration work: Student Participation, Democracy and University Reform in a Global Knowledge Economy Review by Barbara Grant

Mats Alvesson (2013) The Triumph of Emptiness: Consumption, Higher Education, and Work Organisation Review by Penny Welch

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Paula Booke and Todd J. Wiebe

The study of U.S. elections as a part of introductory political science courses has become an increasingly difficult endeavour as students encounter the ever-changing landscape of electoral politics. Instructors seeking to equip students with the skills needed to navigate this complex terrain may look for partnerships with library faculty and staff as a means of bridging the research gap faced by students in these courses. This article examines the efficacy of a courseembedded librarian and information literacy training as a means of increasing student research confidence and competence. The findings of our quasi-experiment suggest that students participating in a course with an embedded librarian, information literacy training and an assignment based on the training session reported higher levels of research confidence and demonstrated the use and understanding of selected information literacy skills and concepts.

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Jeroen Huisman

James E. Côte and Andy Furlong (eds) (2016) Routledge Handbook of the Sociology of Higher Education London: Routledge, 396 pp., ISBN 9781138778122

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Riding alone on the elevator

a class experiment in interdisciplinary education

Anna M. Frank, Rebecca Froese, Barbara C. Hof, Maike I. E. Scheffold, Felix Schreyer, Mathias Zeller and Simone Rödder

The ability to conduct interdisciplinary research is crucial to address complex real-world problems that require the collaboration of different scientific fields, with global warming being a case in point. To produce integrated climate-related knowledge, climate researchers should be trained early on to work across boundaries and gain an understanding of diverse disciplinary perspectives. This article argues for social breaching as a methodology to introduce students with a natural science background to the social sciences in the context of integrated climate sciences. The breach of a social norm presented here was to ask people whether the experimenter could ride on an elevator alone. We conclude that the approach is effective in letting students with a natural science background explore and experience the power of social reality, and is especially suitable for a small-sized introductory class.