Underpinning Excellence: Understanding the way Things are done

By Seng Kiat Kok and Claire McDonald.

Published by The Organization Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Current changes and cuts in funding within the UK university sector have meant that institutions need to perform at their optimum amidst a time of austerity. This has meant that institutions need not only be efficient and effective in their daily activities, but ensure that adequate levels of quality and excellence remain while coping with an environment of diminishing funding alongside increased accountability to the public purse. This has put severe pressure on the sector as it tries to weather the effects of these changes while ensuring that high levels of teaching quality and academic research endeavour remain.

This paper discusses some of the prevalent issues within the sector and highlights some of the key traits that exemplify excellence. Using data collected from Durham University and collaborative Universities of Birmingham, Cambridge, Exeter and Leeds for the Underpinning Excellence in Higher Education Project, this paper will highlight some of the prevalent traits and cultures that allow these institutions to excel. It is hoped that this paper will provide valuable insight into the different methods, approaches and values that are utilised and exist within UK Universities.

Keywords: UK Universities, Underpinning Excellence, Higher Education Management, UK HE Sector

International Journal of Knowledge, Culture and Change Management, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp.119-132. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 901.391KB).

Dr. Seng Kiat Kok

Project Researcher, Strategic Planning and Change Unit, Durham University, Durham, County Durham, UK

Seng Kiat, Kok is Project Researcher at Durham University working on a project examining excellence in UK universities. He was formerly sessional lecturer at Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) teaching research methods to undergraduate and postgraduate students, where he completed his PhD on changing archetypes and management structures of UK Universities. He has a Bachelors in Business Studies from the University of Wales, Institute Cardiff and Masters Degree in Business Studies from LJMU. His research interests include examining and evaluating the effects of managerialism and commercialisation on higher education management, commoditization of higher education internationally and in the UK, and motivational aspects of human resource management.

Claire McDonald

Project Manager, Strategic Planning and Change Unit, Durham University, Durham, Country Durham, UK

Claire McDonald has worked at Durham University since 2005, developing policy and managing projects, with a particular interest in organisational development. In her previous role she managed the University’s staff survey and she is currently seconded to the Strategic Planning and Change Unit to manage the Hefce-funded Underpinning Excellence project. The aim of the project is to investigate the leadership, governance and management behaviours that help to make academic departments successful. The findings will be used to develop a toolkit and resource pack which will be available for the UK higher education sector. Prior to joining the University Claire worked as a researcher in both private and public sectors and has an MSc from Cambridge University.

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