Tag Archives: student experience

Why leadership in higher education is like driving a nail through blancmange

A review of:
Turnaround Leadership for Higher Education
by Michael Fullan & Geoff Scott, Jossey-Bass, 2009

I have spent the better part of the last decade trying to understand, from the inside, what makes institutions of higher education change. We all purport to be in the midst of it – change, that is – with strategic visions and plans that call for us to “build on our strengths”  or “define our dreams.”  Let me guess, your institution’s plan says something about…increasing enrolment/graduate enrolment/international enrolment, improving your profile/reputation regionally/nationally/internationally, probably talks about some “pillars” and sets a lofty goal around “improving the overall student experience”, the part that gets us student affairs types all giddy.

And yet, despite all the effort – townhall meetings and consultation sessions, green papers and white papers, beautifully designed strategic plan websites and glossy brochures ­– the returns on investment are often ambiguous, marginal or incremental, and rarely transformative. Continue reading

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Post-secondary in peril: why higher ed in Ontario is stuck in the past

Book Jacket: Academic TransformationAcademic Transformation: The forces reshaping higher education in Ontario

Ian D. Clark, Greg Moran, Michael L. Skolnik, David Trick

For the past six years, my beloved institution has been working toward enhancing the undergraduate student experience as its primary objective under the academic planning framework. A couple of weeks ago, I asked a room of about 40 relatively engaged students (residence dons) what they thought the top priority for the University has been. “Increasing graduate enrolment?” Nope. Though that is a newly established objective. “International student recruitment?” A priority, yes. But not the top one. “Research excellence?”  It took about ten tries. Continue reading

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2 Books about student experiences and expectations

Promoting Reasonable Expectations

Aligning Student and Institutional Views of the College Experience

By Miller, T., Bender, B., Schuh, J., et al.

Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, CA 2005

– reviewed by David Newman, University of Alberta

In higher education, a growing focus on the quality of the student experience is clearly evident in our institutions. It has been built more strongly into our institutional vision statements in recent years and is often used for purposes of recruitment, alumni support, and community support. However, what happens when the promises contained in such vision statements cannot be realized? How can we determine what types of promises are meaningful to our students? How do institutions balance the potentially contradictory needs that exist between students, external communities, and the institutions themselves? Continue reading

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