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John Butcher and Rohini Corfield, Leadership discourses differentiated: the challenge for Widening Participation and employability across the disciplines

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John Rose-Adams
9 January 2012

 

To be presented at the Widening Participation Conference 2012 'Discourses of Inclusion in Higher Education', 24-25 April 2012
Leadership discourses differentiated: the challenge for Widening Participation and employability across the disciplines
Dr John Butcher and Rohini Corfield
This paper reports on institutional research at the authors’ university, in which senior discipline leaders’ (Deans) perceptions of Widening Participation (WP) were explored in relation to discourses of employability. The research coincided with unprecedented   turmoil in the UK higher education sector (mid-2011) as fees were set to triple and numbers were capped. The researchers probed the Dean’s awareness of the implications   of a changed WP discourse (Butcher et al, 2011) on the recruitment and progression of students from under-represented backgrounds.
The researchers designed an institutional case-study which drew evidence from semi-structured interviews with discipline leaders contextualised by a critical review of current institutional policies, structures and processes. 
Findings offer   unique insights into   leadership interpretations about the social, political and economic factors influencing the employability of WP students (Greenbank, 2006). Analysis suggests discipline leaders navigate the changing Higher Education WP environment through a ‘subject lens’, interpreting the interplay of complex factors which drive decision making (Stevenson et al, 2010) in relation to employability. 

To be presented at the Widening Participation Conference 2012 'Discourses of Inclusion in Higher Education', 24-25 April 2012

Leadership discourses differentiated: the challenge for Widening Participation and employability across the disciplines

Dr John Butcher and Rohini Corfield

This paper reports on institutional research at the authors’ university, in which senior discipline leaders’ (Deans) perceptions of Widening Participation (WP) were explored in relation to discourses of employability. The research coincided with unprecedented   turmoil in the UK higher education sector (mid-2011) as fees were set to triple and numbers were capped. The researchers probed the Dean’s awareness of the implications   of a changed WP discourse (Butcher et al, 2011) on the recruitment and progression of students from under-represented backgrounds.

The researchers designed an institutional case-study which drew evidence from semi-structured interviews with discipline leaders contextualised by a critical review of current institutional policies, structures and processes. 

Findings offer   unique insights into   leadership interpretations about the social, political and economic factors influencing the employability of WP students (Greenbank, 2006). Analysis suggests discipline leaders navigate the changing Higher Education WP environment through a ‘subject lens’, interpreting the interplay of complex factors which drive decision making (Stevenson et al, 2010) in relation to employability. 

 

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John Rose-Adams
12:24pm 24 April 2012


Chairing this session! John Butcher (JB) talks of nostalgia for the Golden Age of widening participation where funding and initiatives were plentiful. Introduces the research as a 'snap shot in time', the University on which the research is based having restructured dramatically and rationalised its staff support for widening participation.

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