Heterodox forms of university ownership/control, governance, financing and organisational structure

  • Catherine Butcher

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This study explores heterodox forms of higher education institutions in the context of the intensification of neoliberal forms in the UK and Australia. It aims to understand how heterodox forms might enhance students’ educational experiences, in which under-privileged students will be recipients of higher education at no cost to them.

    Students have been recast as customers who must pay for their education and a debt crisis is being created among young people who are made to carry, what I refer to as, an ‘educational mortgage’ throughout their adult life. The situation is even more burdensome for students from under-privileged backgrounds whose debts will continue to accumulate with interest as they take a longer time to repay the debt than their more affluent fellow students.

    An interpretivist approach to data collection was adopted. Interviews were conducted with eight senior executives and government officials in contemporary public higher education institutions in the UK and Australia to gain insight into the market model that is being adopted and its impact on students’ experiences. Case-studies were also undertaken of four alternative higher education institutions in the US, Europe and Asia, to gain an in-depth understanding of their forms of ownership, governance, financing and organisational structure and the ways in which students’ experiences in these alternative models differed from the mainstream. The findings revealed that students democratically participated in governance and operations of two institutions as beneficial owners, while students took ownership of curriculum design in one
    institution. Two institutions provided students with a free tuition education while students participated in a labour/work programme in all institutions.

    The study concludes with a conceptual framework of a heterodox higher education institution model and proposes a hybrid of a cooperative and trust, as provided in Chapter 7, that will be owned and operated by students, academics and other stakeholders in a democratic process, and in which students will be integrally involved in the process of their education and in curriculum development. This research therefore, contributes to the body of knowledge on alternative forms of higher education institutions and on-going efforts aimed at addressing issues of access to higher education for students from under-privileged backgrounds. It also has practical significance for education policy.
    Date of Award7 Nov 2018
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Roehampton

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