Dr Celia Whitchurch
Institute of Education, University of London
Professor George Gordon
Centre for Academic Practice and Learning Enhancement, University of Strathclyde
Research, June 2013
Staffing models within higher education are changing significantly as institutions respond both to market pressures and to recommendations from national policy agencies.1 While remaining committed to the National Framework Agreement2, there is also a sense that the system, and individual institutions, are now so complex that one-size-fits-all solutions are unlikely to be appropriate. Institutions are, therefore, taking account of a range of variables including academic profile, student mix, locale and, not least, local relationships with staff and unions, in developing innovative practices.
In doing so they are drawing on approaches from both public and private sectors and taking a measured approach, weighing up the advantages of developments such as outsourcing or shared services in relation to, for instance, how these might affect the student experience. The approaches institutions adopt are also likely to reflect their positioning in the sector, their aspirations and their stage of development.
Nevertheless, in responding to external pressures, institutions are investing significant time and resources in seeking arrangements that meet the needs and aspirations of their staff, while supporting institutional strategy. Local managers have a key role to play in managing expectations around the interpretation of formal contracts and in assessing at what point arrangements might be optimal for individuals as well as for their department or school. These managers should be supported in working constructively with staff in local settings.
The report has identified three generic models as an overarching frame for reviewing higher education staffing developments:
• The integrated model is characterised by an employment proposition closely related to institutional development, which is clearly communicated to staff and seeks to align the contribution of individuals with institutional mission and values.
• The partnership model is based on negotiating common agendas with partners, internal or external, around the added value of collaboration in relation to specific activities.
• The private sector model is characterised by an employment proposition that represents more of a transactional relationship between an institution and its staff, based on a quid pro quo around competitive advantage.
1 Higher Education Funding Council for England (Hefce) (2010a, b, c; 2012), Scottish Funding Council (SFC) (2007a, b; 2011), Universities UK (UUK) (2011)
2 Joint Negotiating Committee for Higher Education Staff (JNCHES) (2003)