The metamorphosis of Higher Education in the uk is there an identity crisis?



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The metamorphosis of Higher Education in the UK – is there an identity crisis?

William Fisher – w.fisher@herts.ac.uk

CELT - Centre for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching

University of Hertfordshire


Abstract


Higher education has been going through a metamorphosis and is seeking to create a postmodern identity for itself. However, the pace of change, together with a questionable direction of travel, means that there is a danger that such a quest will ultimately only lead to an identity crisis.

This paper considers the path that has been taken and reviews some of the concepts and the obstacles that have been met along the way. In particular, the issues around the increase in productivity and the development of managerialism are considered, together with a review of the concepts of Identity and communities of practice. A number of conclusions are drawn, within which a paradox has emerged – where the measurement of the teaching of knowledge has led to, and has hidden, a reduction in the experience of learning.

Finally, it is postulated that there is a danger, relating to, a lack of advanced reflection, which could lead to a form of utopia and to the acceptance of a false identity, and hence to an identity crisis.


Keywords: Identity; Teaching; Learning; Reflection; Postmodern; Change; Managerialism; Communities of Practice;

Introduction


Higher Education (HE) in the UK has gone through considerable change during the last three decades. There has been a move from an elite basis to a mass system of education and, according to a number of writers, we now move towards a universal system. Shelley (2005) points out that the number of 18-30 year olds in HE rose from 12% in the 1980s to 43% by 2002. He goes on to explain that…
…‘this expansion has been achieved by great increases in productivity, for whilst public funding has increased it has not kept pace with expansion…between 1977 and 1997 public expenditure per student fell by 40 per cent’.

Shelley (2005)

Such change has led to the need for greater funding from the government, indeed government funding has now reached an all time high. On the 1st March 2006 HEFCE announced ‘the distribution of £6,706 million in recurrent funding for 2006-07 to universities and colleges in England’ (HEFCE, 2006)
With such increased funding has come the need for accountability; this in turn has led to the further development of managerialism. Managerialism was already becoming part of HE with the removal of the binary divide and the drive for greater efficiency. However, accountability has meant that it is not just efficiency, but the need to manage quality that has come to the fore. But, these are not the only changes that are having an impact on HE - there are also a number of other challenges that need to be faced, both now, and, in the future.
The challenges that face higher education lead to the asking of a number of questions. Have the changes, alluded to above, meant that HE has changed in character? If so, then what shape does it need to be in to meet the future needs of the stakeholders and of society? What, in fact, is the identity of higher education and of the higher education institutions that make up the sector? Perhaps it could even be asked, or postulated, that HE needs to be re-invented in some way, or, is even in the middle of some form of identity crisis?

So, what are the goals, the aims, the objectives? Where is HE going? What are the dangers that need to be faced in the future?



Reinventing the University


Trowler (2005) has written an interesting paper entitled ‘Reinventing the University’. In this paper he states that to qualify for reinvention then there is a need to…
‘…look for changes which involve taking significant and well-embedded institutions and practices and then re-organizing them into something distinctly new within a relatively short time-frame.’

(Trowler, 2005)

He argues that it is a depressing business to read the literature in the area of reinvention of higher education, as many of the writers merely take an ideological viewpoint without any real consideration to the difficulties involved with respect to the implementation of their ideas.
He goes on to explain that, a major focus of his paper is to address the difficulties that arise from two particular areas relating to ‘social aspects’ and to ‘change theory’, when he states…
‘…much of this work lacks any sophisticated understanding of the nature of universities as social institutions and most of it is devoid of any explicit theory of change.’

(Trowler, 2005)

Both of these areas are particularly important when put into context by the recent massification of higher education and the large increase in government funding, which, has also brought greater accountability into the sector.
One of the current issues is that the sector is looking for instant answers to the changes that are taking place. However, it is argued that this is only taking a surface approach, to a set of variables, that are more wide ranging and that contain a higher degree of complexity than there appears to be the time to deconstruct. Surely, it is necessary to understand what is happening on a deeper level, a level that impinges on the very identity of what a university actually is.
There appears to be something reassuring, even comforting, in our belief that we understand what a university is; how it relates to our own sense of intellectual development; how it fits into the fabric of society; what it means for future generations.

Thus, any view that questions the foundation of this, sense of stability, will weaken our view of the identity of higher education. To weaken this foundation would not only create anxiety and concern but, possibly lead to the development of an identity crisis. Such a crisis would be fuelled by the resistance to change that comes with major readjustments. So, if the HE sector does not wake up to the need to understand what is underpinning the complexity of the changes that are taking place then there is a real danger that any short term fix may lead to more serious long term consequences.


Sense of Stability


This ‘sense of stability’ is based on our values and beliefs and concepts that have been accepted over time. For example, Bourdieu’s concept of Habitus which he explains as, ‘the structured and structuring mental structure through which individuals acquire their views and behaviour as a second nature.’ (Bourdieu, 1990 translation).
Referring to this definition, Palmer (2001) provides a view of such structure by stating, ‘the structures are internalised as the ‘truth’ to understand the world and beliefs to fight for.’

In other words, once concepts have been accepted as the truth then they can become immovable. Here the question is, has our view of the university now become an immovable concept?

To add further evidence to the notion of a fixed identity we need to consider the work of Schon. In his book ‘Beyond the Stable State’, he argues…
…’belief in the stable state is belief in the unchangeability, the constancy of central aspects of our lives, or belief that we can attain such a constancy. Belief in the stable state is strong and deep in us. We institutionalise it in every social domain..... Belief in the stable state serves primarily to protect us from apprehension of the threats inherent in change…crises in our lives.

(Schon, 1971)

And then goes on to state…
Crises in our lives center around periods of change or transition in which urgent questions of identity are raised.’

(Schon, 1971)



Identity


Thus, there is a need to review our basic assumptions relating to the identity of the university. There is a need to consider the many variables that impact on the sector and that are leading to change.
Identity can be seen to have two foci – the first, relates to the needs of society and the second recognises the economic reality within which a university must operate. This is evidenced by Bernstein (1996) who considers that the concept of identity, relating to education, was first established in 1971. He argues that identity is composed of sacred and profane features. These he explains in the following manner:
The former [sacred] referred to the relation to the form of knowledge (to its otherness) and to the social and discursive obligations this relation require. The latter, the profane, referred to the contextual demands and constraints of the economic context. Thus the identity could be threatened by a change in its classificatory relation, or by an unfavourable change in the economic context.’

(Bernstein, 1996)


Within the ‘sacred’ sits the student and the academic. The student is becoming an increasingly important stakeholder and, is often referred to as a customer. Whether this raising of the profile of the student is due to a desire to ensure a quality learning experience or, whether it is more of a reaction to be seen to be accountable to the ‘quality’ that is contained within the current audit culture is, perhaps, a moot point.

Smith (2004) argues that, a focus on students as customers, changes responsibilities and relationships. In particular she states…


… ‘while these changes may be regarded as responsive to contemporary societal demands, they may act detrimentally in the long run as the move from a social to a financial contract shifts emphasis from personal commitment to market consideration.’

(Smith, 2004)


What is interesting here is that the ‘sacred’ cannot now be detached from the ‘profane’. Thus, the economic demands that are made by external factors, increasingly, have an impact on the internal identity of a university.
But, what of the student? It could be argued that there has been a change in the identity of the student when a number of factors are considered. With the increasing numbers now entering the higher education sector; with the government’s widening participation agenda; with the greater awareness of equal opportunities and the issues surrounding disability; with the changing focus on the primary and secondary levels of education – in particular, in terms of the testing at different levels that now takes place; with the increases in the use of technology, and; with the development of expectations that the coming increase in fees brings, it is difficult to doubt that there has been a change in student identity.
One of the more important areas where there has been a shift in identity is that of the curriculum. However, curriculum as a term is not well defined or understood. Barnett (2005) informs us that this term did not appear in either the Dearing Report or the 2003 White Paper on Higher Education, and that current key terms include: learning; teaching; standards; and, benchmarking. Perhaps, curriculum is one of those concepts that changes its identity over time, as it becomes associated with different words. If we take the recent launch (23rd February 2006) of ‘The UK Professional Standards Framework for teaching and supporting learning in higher education’, (HigherEducationAcademy, 2006), again there is no mention of the word curriculum. Yet these standards are being put forward – as reflected in the press - as having…
…‘wide-ranging’ consequences for the sector’ and they, ‘also signal the increasingly student-focused approach to teaching being adopted by academics’.

(Shepard, 2006)


One concern that exists is whether the increase in the student focus for teaching is actually having a negative effect on student learning. If the student expectation – driven by a testing culture throughout their educational life – is to seek sufficient knowledge simply to pass the next test…and the next test…and the next test…and so on; then academics only need to meet this demand. All that needs to be done is to write learning outcomes that assess the knowledge needed to pass the next test. Thus, when an undergraduate completes their programme of study and, dons their cap and gown, they will have achieved their goal and will have the expected knowledge. The university will have fulfilled its function by providing the expected student focus. Society will approve because when the university is measured against the performance indicators there will be evidence of excellence. But, what about learning? Will the graduate be able to bring critical thinking skills to the workplace? Will employers complain that university graduates are no longer as useful as they once were? Could this be traced back to the increasing student focus on teaching? In other words has higher education moved more into the automated production processes that are evident in a manufacturing production line? Are we now teaching students what to do but not, how to do it?
To consider these questions, it will be useful to reflect on what is happening from the perspective of the academic. Being engaged in the development of new and inexperienced lecturers as they start their careers, has allowed me to see, at first hand, changes in attitudes and expectations that have an impact on the teaching and learning role. Whilst it is still true that a number of lecturers arrive believing that teaching is all about the interface with the student, this innocence is soon discarded when other realities begin to emerge. Although, it can be argued to still be about the interface with the student, there are now a number of other factors that impinge on the time of the lecturer and, this is time that is taken away from the face to face contact with the student that is so important in the learning process.

Lecturers now have many more administrative functions to perform; they have to engage with an increasing diversity of technology; and, most importantly, they have to deal with increasing numbers of students. This increase in student numbers has seen the staff/student ratios more than double and triple in size. It is simple mathematics – if you have 12 students and you wish to see each one for 20 minutes, to give feedback on their first assignment and to help them understand how to improve their learning, then this will take you four hours. Four hours engaging with students in such a way allows you to provide effective feedback and to answer a student’s issues and concerns. It also informs you of the stage of learning that the students have reached which then ensures that as the course continues, you are able to adapt your teaching style to maximise the learning experience.

However, there are now times, especially with first year undergraduates, where you may have 120 students. Now, to give 20 minutes would take you 40 hours (without breaks) – in other words it is no longer practical to engage in such a way. So, what happens where resources are in short supply? There are a number of possible effects that can take place. The curriculum can be reviewed and changes made to the assessments; more generic feedback can be given; there can be a focus on the student expectation of being given enough knowledge to pass the examinations; learning outcomes can be written in such a way that they can be seen to be met in terms of knowledge; a focus can be placed on what needs to be done, to ensure any quality audit or accountability criteria are met and, the ‘box’ ticked. Other effects concern the academics themselves: time becomes in short supply, given the increase in the staff/student ratios and this often can be seen to lead to an increased stress level – especially amongst newer staff - as these other realities start to take shape. There can also be a sense of frustration as staff are unable to engage as closely with the students as they had expected to - this in turn can lead to disengagement or distancing from the student body and, this can then be reflected in the teaching environment. In a recent study, Wellbeing of the UK Academy 1998-2004 – to be published shortly - reported in the Times Higher Education Supplement, it was stated that, ‘levels of psychological distress among academics have been found to exceed those in high-stress occupation such as accident and emergency doctors and nurses’. [There may be a need to separate stress from trauma when considering this comment]. The article also reported that, ‘62% of academics thought they were not coping with their job’ and that they were ‘poorly supported by supervisors and managers’. (McCall, 2006)
Within the higher education sector, the changes in both student identity and academic identity can be seen to have shifted from the juxtaposition of the student and the academic to each other, to a more distant relationship. Again this is evidence that the student focus on the teaching of knowledge has come to the fore, to the detriment of the more elusive concept of learning.
If this balance is to be addressed then there is a need to investigate and research into the changes that have taken place over time. Shelley, sums this up when he states…
There is a need to be aware of how the context of change of the last fifteen years, involving rapid and large scale expansion, resource constraint, productivity gains, funding crisis and uncertainty, has influenced work and work outcomes.’

(Shelley, 2005)


Having considered some of the variables within Bernstein’s ‘sacred’ concept we will now turn attention to his concept of the ‘profane’ – which looks at the contextual demands and constraints of the economic context.
Here we find the economic drivers that now operate within higher education. Certain terms come to mind: accountability; performance targets; risk management; corporate governance; stakeholders; audit; and, quality assurance. These words are synonymous with the new managerialism that is now part of the fabric of higher education institutes.

Nixon (1996) refers to a crisis of professional self-identity and explains that…


Today, in Britain, the choice would seem to have been made. Central government puts the squeeze on the principles and vice-chancellors, who in turn pile the pressure on deans of faculty and heads of department, who then dump on the academic staff by reorganising everything from incentive schemes to contractual agreements. In the meantime any notion of the university asserting itself within the democratic process would seem to remain a distant prospect.’

(Nixon, 1996)

So, it does appear that the demands and constraints of the economic context may be having a detrimental affect on the identity of the university. However, how can this be? Surely, the quality assurance measures that have been put in place and, the resultant reports, clearly demonstrate that the higher education sector is providing society with the excellence that the government says it should now be expecting. A review of the reports on the QAA website clearly shows the success of the audit process. The QAA home page states the following…
Welcome to QAA

We safeguard and help to improve the academic standards and quality of higher education in the UK.’

(QAA, 2006)

Thus we have two voices, on the one hand, there is evidence of excellence in the standards and quality of higher education in the UK. Yet, on the other hand, there is the evidence to consider that comes from the changing identities of both the student and the academic. Can both be right?
In an on-line opinion, McShane (2004) commented that ‘ universities are under seige’ and that, ‘no one seems happy’. He goes on to make two interesting observations:
Our universities have a problem. They are victims of success – full of students, while thousands more desperately seek entry to their hallowed halls. Critics see simultaneous failures, saying that standards are falling, and graduates will not have the skills demanded by a knowledge-based society.’

(McShane, 2004)


Perhaps, the message here is that the demand for places at universities is a clear demonstration of the success of the government’s social and economic policy. But, the price is that this success may not actually be what current societal needs require in terms of future expectations.

McShane’s second observation is perhaps the more worrying, when he says…


Visit any major university today and you will find little sign of a community of scholars, advancing knowledge for its own sake, and searching for a greater understanding of the human condition. Instead you will find crowded lecture halls…full of students sitting weekly “quizzes” designed to enforce attendance and to ensure that they are absorbing enough material to gain some qualification – any qualification – which might enhance their chances of employment in an uncertain world.’

(McShane, 2004)


This is not exactly a positive viewpoint, and indeed, brings into question the whole area of academic professionalisation. Academics, as educators, should have a fierce pride in delivering a learning experience that will equip the student with both knowledge and the skills to use that knowledge, in whatever economic environment they find themselves after they have left higher education for the workplace.
But, if there is value in what Bernstein espouses, regarding his view of the sacred and the profane, then identity may indeed be under threat. In fact, given what appears to be opposing philosophies, it could be argued that the higher education sector is in the midst of an identity crisis.
Identity is connected to practice, but if there is an identity crisis, to what practice should you be connected? Wenger (1998) has studied the concept of identity in practice and believes that…
developing a practice requires the formation of a community whose members can engage with one another and thus acknowledge each other as participants…in this sense, the formation of a community of practice is also the negotiation of identities.’

(Wenger, 1998)


Wenger (1998), identifies a number of characteristics when referring to identity in practice. One of these is of particular interest to the current framework in the higher education sector. He refers to, ‘identity as a nexus of multimembership’, and believes that in order to manifest an identity there is a need to reconcile the various parties that are part of the community. Currently, within HE, there seems to be work to be done, if a multimembership form of identity is to be established.
Given that the maximisation of the student learning experience is the driving force for education, then to have a community of practice with one perceived and real identity would appear to be a worthy aim. However, the road to such an identity is not clear of struggle. Sachs (2001) draws attention to one particular aspect when she refers to academic professionalisation. She explains…
…’What counts as teacher professionalisation has come to be a site of struggle between various interest groups concerned with the broader enterprise of education. Some would say that it is in the best interest of government for teaching not to be seen as a profession as it gives greater opportunity for regulative control of the profession.’

(Sachs, 2001)


In her article, Sachs refers to ‘two discourses’, one related to a democratic discourse and, the other associated to a discourse surrounding managerial professionalism. This is again drawing attention to the notion that there are two distinct forces at play that have a major impact on the identity of teachers. The democratic discourse is more internally focused and can be seen to be trying to shape the academic profession and related identity from within. Terms such as, autonomy, academic freedom and professionalism are brought to mind here. This can be related to the voice of the lecturer, who wants to provide a quality learning experience, and to the student, who looks for knowledge and understanding.

The discourse relating to democratic professionalism, relates more to an external focus. This is being driven increasingly by the managerialism agenda; terms such as performativity, accountability and marketisation are relevant here. Such a discourse can be more easily related to the language of the auditor, and to the need for management to exercise control and due process.


Once again, there can be seen to be conflict in terms of potentially opposing forces at work within the higher education sector. If care is not taken then this could well lead to the development of two very different identities. If this was allowed to happen then, the repercussions could tear the provision of HE apart and lead to further entrenchment of the ideals that are at the foundation of these two identities.
Sachs, sums this view up when she states that:
The managerialist discourse gives rise to an entrepreneurial identity in which the market and issues of accountability, economy, efficiency and effectiveness shape how teachers individually and collectively construct their professional identities.’
Democratic discourses, which are in distinct contrast to the managerialist ones give rise to an activist professional identity in which collaborative cultures are an integral part of teachers’ work practices. These democratic discourses provide the conditions for the development of communities of practice.’

(Sachs, 2001)


Sachs only refers to communities of practice in the democratic discourse. However, Wenger (op cit) refers to the creation of such communities coming through the negotiation of identities. Both views can be seen to be valid in their own way. However, only by attempting to bring together all parties involved can we hope to build the strong identity that is needed to understand and react to the changes that are now present throughout the higher education sector.
Such change includes a number of other variables that need to be factored in, if we are to become a community of practice. Some of these variables are listed below:


  • organisational change - in terms of organisational ideology, mission statements, restructuring, and re-branding;

  • agency theory – in terms of where the power and control rests;

  • complexity theory – in terms of the systems and consequences;

  • leadership – in terms of leadership roles and succession planning;

  • strategy – in terms of corporate strategy and business planning;

  • stakeholders – the identification and changing importance of the various stakeholders now needs to be recognised;

  • third stream funding – this is of increasing importance as there is a need to be less reliant on government funding;

  • marketing – greater emphasis is needed to market HEIs, both within the sector as well as globally;

If we consider these points and, taking into account the higher education institution within which we work, then the need for a community of practice and the complexity of the organisation becomes clearer. Stacy sums this up in terms of the organisation, when he states…


…’It is in their complex, responsive relating to each other that people become who they are, both collectively and individually. Organisation is, therefore, a reflection of human identities, where identity means what an organisation is and who its members are. Identity has to do with being recognised by others for being and doing something and with people recognising themselves in that recognition.’

(Stacey, 1993)


Thus, as higher education strives to understand its true identity, there is the need to understand who the members actually are and, how they can be recognised by the other groups within the organisation. Any institution that succeeds in this quest will undoubtedly gain a competitive edge over its competition and be truly representative of the higher education sector.

Reflection


Yet, our understanding needs to go beyond this basic awareness of complexity, to take on a more postmodern viewpoint, summed up by (Barnett, 2003) when he refers to the need to, ‘build on our notion of conceptual complexity through the idea of supercomplexity’. This notion of supercomplexity requires a deeper level of reflection, on the basic concepts and principles, underpinning the current variables that are affecting the higher education sector. In other words it is not just enough to talk of knowledge, teaching and learning, but there is the need to understand what these terms mean in modern times. There is a need to question our: values; beliefs; ideologies; and, positionality, in order to fully appreciate from where we are actually trying to construct any change in the identity of higher education.
Reflection as a concept may itself need to be de-constructed. Perhaps, as a term or concept it is believed to be something that can be easily understood. Yet, there is now mounting evidence, seen through the massification of higher education and the increasing expectations gap between the teacher and the student, coupled with targets and accountability, to question whether we are reflecting to a deep enough level. It is all too easy to reach a conclusion for action, based on insufficient information, especially where the pressures on the system do not allow for proper discourse.

In a recent article in the Times Higher, Eagleton (2006) takes the view that, ‘information overload and endless means of communication have deprived us of the ability to reflect.’

Eagleton (2006) argues an interesting case. Traditionally, an experience was difficult to reflect in writing. But, in postmodern times, it is communication that is now commonplace and experience that has become more difficult. This is clearly summed up when he states…
…’Instead of experiencing the world, we now experience the experience of it.’

(Eagleton, 2006)
In other words, we no longer need to have the experience, as long as we have the knowledge. This knowledge is readily available through the experience of others - why then do we need to learn the experience? Surely, as long as there is sufficient communication we do not need advanced reflection. So, the university experience becomes one of communication and the acquisition of knowledge. Learning is not really necessary, as we can always communicate when we need to. This is indeed fortunate, because paradoxically, in postmodern times, as lecturers are now more distant from the learning of students, they are closer in terms of communication, and what is perceived to be knowledge. There is further comfort here; as we are able to communicate accountability on the same basis – in other words we can test the knowledge but do not need to be concerned about the learning.

Therefore, society will be satisfied, as; the students will receive the knowledge they require and; accountability will be excellent, as effective quality control can be demonstrated over the knowledge that is provided by a higher education institution.


Given this utopian viewpoint then it would be easy to postulate that we already have a sound community of practice and indeed a strong identity will be forthcoming. Therefore, any changes that are needed in the sector can be made easily and swiftly.
However, there is also the view that, until we reflect properly in the actions that we take, we will never have sufficient evidence to sustain this vision of utopia. As Schon puts it when he refers to whether such a vision is utopian…
The existence of a widespread capacity for reciprocal reflection-in-action is unlikely to be discovered by an ordinary social science which tends to detect, and treat as reality, the patterns of institutionalized contention and limited learning…’

(Schon, 1983)


Thus, there is a necessity to look beyond what may have become a false ‘reality’; and to reflect on the real ‘reality’, to ensure that any quest for identity is not fundamentally flawed.
But, there is also the need to be aware of additional dangers in any attempt for a rapid change in identity - as Trowler establishes, when he cautions…
Sadly, visions of fundamental, rapid and uniform changes are more often than not likely to turn out to be hallucinations based on an ill-founded grip on the complexities of realities on the ground.’

(Trowler, 2005)

Given the multitude of factors now impacting on any higher education institution, this caution needs to be carefully considered, as change may need to be at a pace that makes for the most effective outcome. However, such change needs to be properly identified, structured and implemented if it is to lead to the development of a community of practice and to the maximisation of identity.


Conclusion


This paper has considered the metamorphosis of higher education in the UK and questioned whether there is in fact an identity crisis.
The changes in the last three decades were considered, in particular, the issues surrounding increases in productivity and the development of managerialism have been highlighted.
Re-invention was then considered, but can be seen to be hampered by the concept of a ‘sense of stability’, based on our values and beliefs. This indicates that we have an idealised view of a university. Bourdieu’s concept of ‘Habitus’ was put forward to reinforce this view and Palmer (2001) showed us that what we internalise may be perceived as truth and thus difficult to change. Schon (1971) added to this through his notion of a stable state and an acceptance of what is. In Effect, this establishes that there is comfort in constancy.
Identity was then addressed and two foci – the sacred (social obligations) and profane (economic) - put forward as explored by Bernstein (1996). The view was put forward that these foci are now more interrelated, and this was linked to changes in the identity of the student, the lecturer, and the university. To this was added a shift in the identity of the curriculum Barnett (2005). It was then postulated that such a shift was having a negative effect on learning. This negative effect led to a discussion relating to knowledge and learning, which in turn led to the identification of an expectations gap, in that students are being taught what to do, not, how to do it. This highlighted the changing nature of academic identity and the shift in juxtaposition to a more distant relationship.
The developing identity of managerialism and the increasing focus on demands and constraints of the economic context were considered. A paradox was identified whereby the perceived success of quality assurance is actually masking a reduction in learning. To put it another way - in all this teaching of knowledge we are actually losing the learning.

A further paradox was apparent, where success is heralded by the increasing demand for university places yet at the same time there is an increasing lack of community amongst scholars.


The problem of the formation of a community was considered. In particular the views of Wenger (1998) were reviewed and, these were linked to academic professionalism, as identified by Sachs (2001).
The theme of identity was continued, with the view of an organisation as a reflection of human identities, as shown by the complexity theory of Stacey (1993). This was extended to consider the concept of supercomplexity as put forward by Barnett (2003).
This then led to the identification of the need to develop deeper reflective practice. In fact, it is suggested that the postmodern view of reflection itself needs to be deconstructed. Add to this, the notion that communication has become a more important driver than actual experience and it is easier to understand Eagleton (2006) when he states, ’Instead of experiencing the world, we now experience the experience of it.’
Finally, a view was purported, of the potential danger of a lack of advanced reflection, leading to accepting a form of utopia as a false reality. This in turn could lead to a rapid change towards a false identity, and in fact, to the development of an identity crisis.
To avoid this scenario, there is a need to build a proper strategy to provide a smooth metamorphosis for higher education, as summed up by Stacy…
…‘Strategy is concerned with how an organisation has become what it is and how it will become what it becomes, that is, how its identity evolves’

(Stacey, 1993)

References




w.fisher@herts.ac.uk 2006



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