Changing Higher Education - Other Research - University of Derby

Changing Higher Education

Group of students, used for CHE page

Changing Higher Education (CHE) Research Cluster

Cluster leads:  Dr Ruth Ayres, Dean of Learning Enhancement and Professor Dennis Hayes, Professor of Education

The catalyst for a new approach to Higher Education in the UK was the Report of the National Committee of Inquiry into Higher Education (1997) chaired by Lord Dearing.  Among the recommendations of the ‘Dearing Report’ were: the principle that learning should be increasingly responsive to employment needs and include the development of general skills, widely valued in employment; that a system is introduced by which students pay fees; that an institution to accredit training programmes for higher education (HE) staff should be established and that student learning should be promoted as a high priority.

Since that Report was published Higher Education has increasingly become site of contestation. Many support pedagogic initiatives which have been keenly promoted by universities themselves and bodies such as the Higher Education Academy (HEA). These have culminated in the recent announcement of a proposed Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) to complement the Research Excellence Framework (REF).  Universities have also enthusiastically embraced the idea of the ‘student as consumer’ and have become ‘student-centred’ and are proud to put the student at the centre of all they do. These changes have been celebrated as steps forward in creative learning and in equity and social justice.

Critics see the new ‘higher education’ as the abandonment of the idea of a university, traditionally concerned with the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake. For them, the new focus on the student experience and 'student satisfaction' is not a positive development but part of the transformation of the academy into a business.   They argue that the consequence of the recent changes has been what many call a 'managerialist' orientation leading to stifling bureaucratisation, to what one of the CHE members has labelled ‘The McDonaldisation of Higher Education’.

Reacting to these changes, many universities have set up research centres for the study of higher education and higher education pedagogy.  CHE is one of those initiatives but with a unique quality. Some members are advocates of innovation and creative practice while others are critics of the current direction of higher education. In our writing research and practical activities there will be disagreement and dissent.  To that extent the CHE research cluster upholds one feature that has always defined the university – the willingness to accept disagreement and dissent.

The CHE draws its membership from across the University and welcomes individual members and links with other centres and institutions in the UK and globally.

Members of CHE

Dr Ruth Ayres

Kuldeep Banwait

Judith Gill

Melody Harrogate

Alison Hardman

Professor Dennis Hayes

Dr Ruth Mieschbuehler

Rose Schofield

Dr Ian Whitehead 

Christopher Wilson

Areas of Research Expertise

Academic Freedom                         HE Policy and Practice                                    HE Pedagogy


Contact Details

To become a member of CHE or to request an institutional or other link please contact Professor Dennis Hayes (email:  telephone: 00 44 (0) 7791 200 341 - mobile)