Purpose – This chapter provides an overview of the book and discusses student diversity and institutional responses.
Methodology/approach – The chapter draws together literature and conceptual thinking about what student diversity is. It then analyses the drivers for increased diversity within higher education in the case studies in this book. Alternative approaches to diversity are presented, drawing on a synthesis of approaches identified in the literature. Finally, the chapter provides a summary of the other chapters and the associated case studies.
Findings – The chapter finds that diversity incorporates difference across a number of dimensions: education, personal disposition, current circumstances and cultural heritage. There are a wide range of reasons prompting institutions to recruit a diverse student population: a commitment to social justice, expansion and access to new markets, tapping the pool of talent, enhancing the student experience, national and/or regional policy, funding incentives, conforming with equality legislation, institutional research and personal commitment of staff. Institutions can respond to diversity in different ways. The idealised types are: altruistic (no institutional change), academic (little or no change), utilitarian (special access and additional support mechanisms) and transformative (positive view of diversity resulting in institutional development).
Research limitations – This chapter draws largely on the author's work in England and the United Kingdom and the case studies presented in this book.
Practical implications – This chapter is important as an introduction to the book, and providing frameworks to think about diversity.
Social implications – The framework for institutional change assists institutions to critically consider the response they make to a more diverse student population.
Originality/value – The paper provides original perspectives to conceptualising and responding to diversity.
Thomas, L. (2011), "Chapter 1 Institutional Transformation to Engage a Diverse Student Body", Thomas, L. and Tight, M. (Ed.) Institutional Transformation to Engage a Diverse Student Body (International Perspectives on Higher Education Research, Vol. 6), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 1-15. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1479-3628(2011)0000006003
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