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Managing the Duals: T he role of manager-academics working in a dual sector institution Bruce Macfarlane, Ourania Filippakou, Liz Halford, Arti Saraswat Thames Valley University. Attitudes to duality Traditionalists

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Challenges and responses cultural differences

Managing the Duals:The role of manager-academics working in a dual sector institutionBruce Macfarlane, Ourania Filippakou, Liz Halford, Arti Saraswat Thames Valley University

Attitudes to duality


See further and higher education as representing distinct entities with different educational values, purposes and cultures


Want to protect the identity of own sub-brand of the merged organisation arguing that existing structures are better understood in the educational marketplace

Institutional context

2004 - Thames Valley University (TVU) merged with Reading College and School of Arts and Design creating a ‘dual sector’ institution in England

2005-2008 – A research project based at TVU funded by HEFCE entitled ‘Managing Change and Collaboration in Dual Sector (FE-HE) institutions

What is a ‘dual sector’ institution?

A post-secondary institution that includes substantial elements of both ‘further’ and ‘higher’ education.

There are a number outside the UK in Australia (eg Victoria University), Canada (eg Thompson Rivers University), South Africa (eg Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University) and New Zealand (Unitec)

Duals also include Mixed Economy Colleges of Further and Higher Education in the UK

What is the purpose of a ‘dual’?

To widen participation by creating ‘seamless’ opportunities for student progression within and between further and higher education

HEFCE Leadership Governance and Management project

Stage 1 National and international comparison

Stage 2 Interviews with manager-academics at TVU

Stage 3 Management development

Interviews with ‘manager-academics’

Semi-structured interviews with middle ‘manager-academics’ called heads of subject, directors of study, programme and curriculum leaders at Thames Valley University.

Project contact details


Challenges and responses

Cultural differences

Are the aims and values of ‘further’ education compatible with those found in ‘higher’ education?

‘…if you have more FE students than HE students then

you run the risk of the university not being a university…’

‘[It] creates a problem, that you’ve got HE students

mixing with FE students, the cultures are different, the

ethos is different’

‘FE is a much more regulated environment…..HE is more


Geography and communication

Can a large, multi-campus institution with 65,000 students bring together further and higher education?

‘In terms of resources there’s a perception that the library is

very much an FE library [at Reading campus]’

Improving the student experience

How does duality improve the student experience, if at all? Does it make progression easier? Should structures be integrated or separated?

‘where it works [ie duality]…is where the FE and the HE

is separated out on the campus’

‘I was an external examiner for an institute that was

predominantly an FE college, they had separate buildings,

separate common rooms, tutorial systems – they gave their

FE students something to aspire to’

Development and identity

How does duality impact on the self-identity of academics and the institution? What are the implications for the development of staff?

‘There are some people in further education who are not as

academically qualified….and I think they now feel slightly


‘I am not sure it [ie the merged institution] is really

understood…how we market ourselves and how we promote

what we do and make it understood is quite critical..’

Main rationale




Structural preference







Favour two separate but strong further and higher education parts of the merged institution as a more effective means of achieving student progression and managing the demands of external funders and quality agencies


Favour integration of cultures of further and higher education to improve student progression arguing that boundaries between further and higher education have already blurred