University strategy in an age of uncertainty: the effect of higher education funding on old and new universities

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This paper seeks to examine the impact due to a shift in funding arrangements, and particularly in tuition fees, on universities and their strategic processes to this transformation. Leveraging on data from interviews with senior managers in four universities, it seeks the most prestigious, pre-1992, universities mainly unstirred by tuition fees and the others reacting to the shift in application patterns and intake. However, the impact of tuition fees on university strategy are not easily disconnected from other changes in the funding of Higher Education, and universities’ strategies were strongly determined by the need to minimize costs and to achieve income. A second dominant apprehension of all four universities was quality, both of inputs such as students and staff and of outputs, in degrees results and ratings in employability, research, teaching and other activities. Marketing was adopting a position of growing significance, with universities aiming to create a ‘brand’ to attract students, staff and funding.

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