chapter  10
Conclusions
Pages 7

The work of the participants in this study has been a testament to the power of human agency when it comes to acting in line with deeply held pedagogic values. In this chapter, insights into emergent pedagogy in higher education in England are outlined, and implications stemming from this research are drawn out. The methodological issues outlined in Chapter 6 have been effective in opening up the data to reveal aspects of emergent pedagogy and changing structures. Morphogenesis has proved to be a helpful lens through which to start to unravel the extremely complex interplay of various physical, social and discursive structures, both within human beings and in the contexts in which they live and work. These insights have come about through the use of critical realism to develop the analysis of structures, agency, morphogenesis, human knowledge and learning that were elaborated in the earlier chapters of this book. The cases studied have also given some insights into the effects of the marketisation mechanisms currently working their way in higher education (Ball, 2009, 2012) and education itself is increasingly being viewed by some as a commodity for sale. At the global level, universities are subject to comparison across the world (Henry et al., 2001) and there is the constant pressure to score highly in international league tables. A narrow but dominant view of the purpose of universities as tied to economic development (Levidow, 2002; World Bank, 2011) appears to have been accepted (Shelley, 2005) at universities X and Y. This is reflected in their governance and strategic plans, while at University Z, which has a collegiate federal structure, such changes still remain a question for public debate. At a national level, the withdrawal of government funding (Henkel, 2007) leads to pressure on pedagogy, either in the form of a lack of resources, which means tutorial numbers increase, or because it is difficult to fund teaching accommodation and materials. Universities find themselves competing with each other at a national level. There are pressures on staff time from the growing research-teaching divide, and from the constantly changing goalposts of the research evaluation frameworks. As state provision is rolled back (Ball, 2012) and the higher education system becomes dependent on student fees or private partnerships, managers become preoccupied with marketisation (Broadbent, 2007). Rather simplistic ‘performance

indicators’ are being used to compare courses. This takes decisions about what counts as academic quality further out of academic control. At institutional levels, the same global and national mechanisms have been seen to have varying effects across the cases studied. In all of them, there is some effect of the resource squeeze. In terms of governance, staff at the high status collegiate University Z retain a high degree of autonomy over academic issues and cuts in funding can be ameliorated by the fact that colleges have some autonomy and private resources. However, tutorial numbers are creeping up as the research-teaching divide cuts into teaching time. At the distance learning institution University X, there are changes in the governance structure at faculty level to give more power over academic decisions to management, as opposed to academic staff. Here there is some evidence of financing pressures, and the university embraces the market as part of its strategy. At the post 1992 University Y, power was always with the governing body and their preoccupation with key performance indicators and new forms of ‘agile’ managerialism are affecting pedagogy as Jim Hope’s account traces. Within these contexts the following insights into pedagogy were gained.