Paradise lost or created? How higher-education staff perceive the impact of policy on students

Sazana Jayadeva, Rachel Brooks, Predrag Lazetic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper explores how university staff in Denmark, Germany, and England perceived higher education (HE) policy as impacting the experience of being a student in their respective countries. While, in each nation, different policy mechanisms were identified as having triggered transformations in the experience of being a student, the transformations themselves were described in a strikingly similar manner across all three countries: staff stressed that students had become more instrumental in their approach to learning; that the student experience had become more circumscribed; and that students were under greater stress. We analyse how staff’s narratives about the impact of policy on the experience of being a student were mediated by their own ideas about what constituted ‘good education’, which in turn were strongly rooted in national traditions. Furthermore, in each country, staff’s assessment of the impact of specific policies on HE differed sharply from those of policy actors. Our findings contribute to the scholarship on the marketisation of HE, through drawing attention to how the rationality underpinning policy does not determine how it is engaged with by key stakeholders on the ground, and by demonstrating how the neoliberalisation of HE can unfold in different formats, some more explicit than others.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Education Policy
Publication statusPublished - 22 Apr 2021


  • higher education
  • Policy
  • students
  • Bologna Process
  • marketisation

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