Measurement imperatives and their impact: Academic staff narratives on riding the metric tide

Carol Taylor, Jean Harris-Evans, Damien Fitzgerald, Manuel Madriaga

Research output: Chapter or section in a book/report/conference proceedingChapter or section

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Higher education is in the grip of an unprecedented level of attention to quantitative performance indicators. The recent trajectory of government policy discourses position such measures as necessary in enabling students to have more and better information to inform their choices, in ensuring that institutions are more transparent in their offer, and in justifying to the public that government funding for higher education is well-spent. Measurement imperatives are, therefore, positioned in policy discourses as key to the generation of market competition and institutional differentiation. But beyond government policymakers, many are sceptical about their use and value. Some consider that the measures themselves are flawed instruments; some are concerned about their role in increasing surveillance of staff; and some feel they have little value in relation to enhancing knowledge and knowing, improving pedagogic relationships and developing learning communities. This chapter uses a narrative approach to explore these tensions. It includes five academics’ accounts of their personal responses to measurement imperatives. In tracing how individual narratives intersect with broader discourses of marketisation, equity and differentiation, the chapter activates the sociological imagination (C. Wright Mills, 1959) to bring into closer view some vital questions about the aims, purpose and value of contemporary higher education.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEquality and Differentiation in Marketised Higher Education
EditorsMarion Bowl, Colin McCaig, Jonathan Hughes
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-78313-0
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-78312-3, 978-3-030-08671-8
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jun 2019

Publication series

NamePalgrave Studies in Excellence and Equity in Global Education
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan


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