Research article

Five perils of the impact agenda in higher education

Author
  • Tristan McCowan

Abstract

The impact of higher education institutions on society has become the focus of significant policy attention in recent years, most prominently as part of research evaluation. This paper presents a theoretical exploration of the notion, identifying the key dimensions as source, form, trajectory, intensity, timescale and destination. While acknowledging the importance of porosity between universities and society, and the need to address critical contemporary challenges, five dangers of the impact agenda are highlighted: the normative dimension; the linear relationship; unpredictability; measurement; and instrumentalization. As a response to dominant conceptualizations, the paper proposes the notion of the generative intrinsic as a more robust basis on which to base the work of universities.

Keywords: HIGHER EDUCATION POLICY, IMPACT, INSTRUMENTALISATION, PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT, RESEARCH EVALUATION, UNIVERSITIES

How to Cite:

McCowan, T., (2018) “Five perils of the impact agenda in higher education”, London Review of Education 16(2), 279–295. doi: https://doi.org/10.18546/LRE.16.2.08

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Published on
17 Jul 2018
Peer Reviewed
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