Exploring the parallel universes of staff and student transitions in higher education

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Research and Development in Higher Education Vol. 34: Higher Education on the Edge

July, 2011, 394 pages
Published by
K. Krause, M. Buckridge, C. Grimmer, & S. Purbrick-Illek
0 908557 85 X

Following the publication of the Browne Review (2010), Higher Education (HE) in England is on the edge, being plunged once more into a significant state of transition. From 2012, the teaching grant paid to publically-funded universities will be cut and a tripling of tuition fees permitted. The implications of these changes are highly significant for new academic staff and students. Much has been written about student transitions into HE but far less is known about the transitional experiences of academic staff who themselves support transitional students. As changes impact, new academic appointments are increasingly drawn from a widening variety of employment backgrounds, with many staff working in HE for the first time. The University of Bedfordshire runs a Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice (PgCAP) for staff new to HE. In undertaking this programme, new staff also take on the additional persona of first-year student. Feedback from the PgCAP therefore informs an understanding of the challenges facing new staff and new students. We also acknowledge a further group of 'new' staff required to move into radically new types of work-roles and who also transition into an alien world. Situated within the context of government and institutional imperatives, this paper explores the differing transitional experiences of academic staff entering a university and draws parallels with institutional approaches employed to support first-year students. An holistic model depicting the parallel universes of these staff and student transitions is presented.

Keywords: transition, new academic staff, institutional mechanisms