Bedford Way Papers Series 40

Professional Life in Modern British Higher Education

November 2014
More details
  • Publisher
    UCL IOE Press
  • Published
    18th November 2014
  • ISBN 9780854739998
  • Language English
  • Pages 176 pp.
  • Size 6.25" x 9.5"

This is a ‘problem-focused’ book, dealing with significantly changing aspects of higher education – including professional identities, academic values, pedagogies, and quality assurance – and exploring the effects of these changes upon professional life in universities. It offers a range of perspectives on the ways in which societal, legislative, and educational trends and ‘events’ have transformed, and are further significantly transforming, the work of the professional higher education academic.

The first half of the twentieth century witnessed the continuing evolution of the academic profession, and the inter-war elite image of university academics owed something to the self-constructed notion of ‘academic freedom’. But this image was persistently reconstructed after the Second World War, time and again transforming the professional identity, autonomy, duties, and expectations of academic life in higher education. The historical thread running through the book serves to remind the reader that academic life in the university has never been static, and that new times have brought forth new professional conditions, expectations, identities, and paradigms.

Drawing on contributions from specialist areas of professionally oriented university work, including teacher education and clinical education, as well as ranging more broadly over professional work in higher education, Professional Life in Modern British Higher Education will appeal to and resonate with a UK and international readership of university teachers and administrators, as well as students taking courses with a focus on higher and professional education.

"Working in higher education is a source of joy and of frustration. This timely work shows how and why both of these propositions are true. The answer has a lot to do with the self-conscious emergence of higher education as a modern profession rather than an ageing theme park or simply the carrier of others' professionalism. Bryan Cunningham and his collaborators have performed a significant service in exposing not just the stresses and strains of contemporary academic life but also its dynamism, opportunism, and importance in society at large."

Sir David Watson, Professor of Higher Education and Principal - , Green Templeton College, Oxford

"Privileged but pressured, autonomous and yet highly regulated. This insightful book explores the many dimensions of working in higher education today and helps the newcomer and old hand alike make sense of where they are and what they do."

Professor Sally Power, School of Social Sciences - , Cardiff University

Foreword: The death of ‘the don’, by Sir Peter Scott

Introduction, Bryan Cunningham

1. The changing character of university work, by Paul Temple

2. Being REFable: Strategies and tactics in meeting the challenges of the research quality assessment process, by Andrew Brown

3. Approaches to developing pedagogic skills in the new higher education teacher, by Clare Bentall

4. Enhancing ‘quality’ in the academy: Some tensions and contradictions, by Bryan Cunningham

5. Engaging professionally: Who does quality?, by Harriet Barnes and Janet Bohrer

6. The meta-medical educator OR Three Alices in Wonderland: Stories about medical education, community, and technologies of practice, Sophie Park, Ann Griffin, and Anita Berlin

7. Peripheral professionals? The place of teacher educators in higher education, by Sam Duncan

8. Developing a curriculum for diversity: Raising awareness, increasing understanding, and changing professional practice, by Liz Thomas

Afterword: Whither the HE professional?, by Bryan Cunningham


Bryan Cunningham

Bryan Cunningham is Senior Lecturer in Education at the Institute of Education, University of London.