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Bringing about positive change in the higher education student experience: a case study

Sally Brown (Leeds Metropolitan University, Leeds, UK)

Quality Assurance in Education

ISSN: 0968-4883

Article publication date: 12 July 2011




The purpose of this article is to outline the ways in which staff of a post‐1992 UK university set about enhancing the student experience, at a time when the institution had poor student evaluations as demonstrated by the UK National Student Survey and other indicators. Using a range of interventions led by the PVC (Academic), a concerted effort is made to improve classroom teaching, assessment and feedback, and the ways in which actions taken in response to student feedback were reported back to students.


The article reviews some of the literature available on the NSS and on bringing about changes in universities, and demonstrates how such approaches were put in place.


Over a period of 18 months, it was possible to report significant changes in practice, resulting in demonstrable improvements, both in NSS scores and staff morale.

Research limitations/implications

The article uses a reportage approach, describing the steps taken as part of an evidence‐informed approach: potential future work will be undertaken by a new team, following a wide‐ranging restructuring of the university.

Practical implications

It was necessary to recognise that teaching staff felt they were already working very hard, so changes had to be both manageable for staff and demonstrably leading to measurable improvements.

Social implications

The article argues that a top‐down approach alone is insufficient to bring about rapid changes in a difficult context, and describes how diverse agents' enacted improvements.


The quality enhancement approaches described here are shared by a number of universities with similar aims: the originality of the approach lies in its coherence and collaborative nature, which combined evidence‐led leadership and cross‐institutional commitment.



Brown, S. (2011), "Bringing about positive change in the higher education student experience: a case study", Quality Assurance in Education, Vol. 19 No. 3, pp. 195-207.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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