Curricula change in response to the changing governance in higher education

Mullineaux, Mark Stuart (2007). Curricula change in response to the changing governance in higher education. EdD thesis The Open University.



This thesis seeks to provide a causal explanation of a new curriculum model (NCM) within a university college with a view to examining the changing nature of governance in higher education. Critical realist explanatory frameworks guide the structure of the thesis. Accordingly, the thesis first explores the 'efficient causes' behind the NCM, arguing that it evolved from within a broader political, economic, managerial and institutional relational network. This was to give rise to a series of significant structures and mechanisms leading to reforms in Higher Education including widening participation, decreased per capita funding, the centrality of economy and efficiency and a 'lifelong learning' agenda. This thesis also argues, using the theory of integrated institutionalism (Scott, 1995) that the legitimation of these new demands would be felt through one or more of coercive (through rules and sanctions), normative (through 'appropriateness') or mimetic (through reference to other organisations) means. Testing of the theorised demands and the nature of legitimation was undertaken through semistructured 'realist interviews' (Pawson and Tilley, 1997) with nine members of academic staff from the college. Analysis utilising NViv07 suggests perceived demands of 'changing mission', 'college demands', 'enforcement and monitoring', 'nature of the world' and 'student population'. There exists a high degree of confirmatory evidence for the theorised demands, most especially in terms of economy, efficiency, effectiveness, widening participation and the commodification of HE. The testing of the legitimation mechanisms suggests a high degree of coercion within governance of HE.

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