Assessing the impact of the 2010 Browne Review and the 2010 Amendment to the Higher Education Act 2004 using Nottingham Trent University as a case study

Jarvis, G., 2014. Assessing the impact of the 2010 Browne Review and the 2010 Amendment to the Higher Education Act 2004 using Nottingham Trent University as a case study. DBA, Nottingham Trent University.

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The 2012/13 academic year saw the introduction of the most significant changes to the funding of higher education in England for over fifty years. This followed the publication of the Browne Review in October 2010 (Browne, 2010), which recommended that the cap on tuition fees be removed and that universities be allowed to charge fees that they felt were appropriate. It further recommended that the funding of England’s higher education system shift away from one that is largely funded by the taxpayer to one that is, for the most part, funded privately by graduates from their future earnings. The subsequent government White Paper published later in 2011 incorporated some features of Lord Browne’s recommendations: loans would be offered to all students to cover fees, to be repaid only when graduates were earning over a certain threshold. However, the government proposed an absolute cap on fees of £9,000 per year. Those universities charging fees of over £6,000 per year would be obliged to contribute to a national scholarships programme, and there would be a tougher regime of sanctions encouraging these universities to widen access. These new measures were challenged at the time from a variety of sources: politicians, the press and academic research all suggested that this change in funding would ostracise students who came from backgrounds that did not traditionally access higher education. Two years after the introduction of higher fees, this thesis investigates whether there has been any change to the nature of the student demographic accessing Nottingham Trent University (NTU). For some, going to university is seen as a method of ensuring social mobility, so if there is any change in the demographic of the student accessing university following the change in funding, this could have a far-reaching impact across the whole of society. Additionally, given that universities are now increasingly run as businesses as well as places of learning, any changes to the student demographic could have a disruptive impact on the business model of universities. Given that the change in funding was relatively recent, there has been limited work in this field of research. This thesis examines a number of hypotheses in order to understand whether there has been a change in the student demographic accessing NTU following the introduction of higher fees. The analysis looks at not only the socio-economic composition of the student population, but also students’ academic credentials on entry, the distance between their home and the place of study, their choice of subject, and what actions and interventions the University has taken in light of its increased fees. Using secondary data from the University’s student data system, supplemented by other external data, this investigation looks at the composition of the first-year England-domiciled undergraduate student population from the 2008/09 academic year to the 2013/14 academic year to test a number of hypotheses that emerged from a review of current literature relating to the student decision-making process. In order to ensure validity and reliability, the records of the entire cohort for each year of entry were used rather than a sample approach. The findings suggest that, contrary to the popular opinion that was so vociferous at the time of the Browne Review, there has been no erosion in the number of students from deprived backgrounds accessing university. Instead, for NTU at least, the proportion of students from the most deprived backgrounds has actually increased following the introduction of higher fees. Aligned to this slight change to the socio-economic composition of the student population is a potential decline in the average tariff points on entry to the University. However, there has been little change to the other aspects of the demographic of the student population, namely the distance travelled, the subjects studied, and the shift in university policy with regard to the academic attainment it requires from its students to access its courses. Whilst the results noted above are specific to NTU, the University shares a position in the English higher education market with other similar universities offering similar courses to a similar demographic of student. In terms of geographical location, NTU shares a region with a number of these similar higher education institutions, so it may be valid to generalise the findings of this thesis to other similar universities in England.

Item Type: Thesis
Creators: Jarvis, G.
Date: 2014
Divisions: Schools > Nottingham Business School
Record created by: Jonathan Gallacher
Date Added: 03 May 2016 08:44
Last Modified: 19 Jul 2016 15:08

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