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It remains to be seen whether ‘…an academic revolution has taken place in higher education in the past half century marked by transformations unprecedented in scope and diversity.’ (Altbach, Reisberg, & Rumbley, 2009). It seems fair to state however that,

…the developments of the recent past are at least as dramatic as those in the 19th century when the research university evolved…and fundamentally redesigned the nature of the university worldwide. The academic changes of the late 20th and early 21st centuries are more extensive due to their global nature and the number of institutions and people they affect. (Altbach et al., 2009)

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  1. 1.

    Borges et al. (2017), on how the Sustainable Development Agenda was created in 2007, via the UN Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) under the UN Global Compact.

  2. 2.

    Altbach et al. (2009) (accessed 12.01.19) adding that ‘comprehending this ongoing and dynamic process while being in the midst of it is not an easy task.’

  3. 3.

    See further Hoover et al. (2010) on ‘desirable executive skills’ such as communication, team-working, interpersonal skills, and problem-solving.

  4. 4.

    Steur et al. (2012), outlining also how ‘intellectual cultivation’ amongst learners arises, and arguing that reflective thinking offers the best scope for lifelong learning. See also however the seminal work of Knight and Yorke (2013).

  5. 5.

    Hall (1976).

  6. 6.

    Cohen and Mallon (1999) on ‘portfolio workers’ [as cited by Nicholas (2018)].

  7. 7.

    Borges et al. (2017) further argue that ‘SDGs need concerted global efforts and good governance at all levels, including local, national, regional, and global…’ (citing Sachs 2012).

  8. 8.

    Mills (1959) (as cited by Barton et al., Chap. 33).

  9. 9.

    Putnam (2000) [describing social life as ‘networks, norms and trust’; see also Putnam (1996) (accessed 01.02.19); see also Arrow (2000)].

  10. 10.

    See further Borges et al. (2017) on Article 26 of the UNDHR (1948) and the various other rights milestones that have flowed from it, including the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) (2000), and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (2015), adding however that the SDGs need ‘unprecedented mobilization of global knowledge operating across many sectors and regions’ and citing King (2016) on how the principal focus is still on ‘developing countries’ and the ‘least developed countries’ (King 2016); See also King (2017).

  11. 11.

    On illiteracy levels and poverty in the least developed countries (LDCs) see Regmi (2015).

  12. 12.

    On gendered poverty, see further Bradshaw, Chant, and Linneker (2017).

  13. 13.

    Bellino, Paulson, and Worden (2017).

  14. 14.

    See however McArthur and Zhang (2018) on how the various disciplines have embraced—or perhaps avoided—the issue. For example, The Lancet had the highest number of MDG references amongst 12 academic journals examined (‘…it is probably not a coincidence that global health saw the most significant MDG breakthroughs…at least some portion of the health research community considered itself as MDG protagonist—an outlook seemingly not shared across all academic disciplines. The leading economics journals, for instance, rank among the lowest in terms of MDG references)’ (available at accessed 28.02.19).

  15. 15.

    Bellino et al. (2017).

  16. 16.

    King (2017) adding that ‘the complexity of the global governance architecture for the SDGs and their implementation’ is relevant, as is the ‘critical lens of the Global Education Monitoring Report (2016)’.

  17. 17.

    On the Longitudinal Education Outcomes (LEO) data (on graduate earnings), see: 28.03.19). See further Kushner’s (2011: 311) observations on how evaluations offer ‘a unique ethic based on citizen rights to information,’ with ‘every evaluation [is] itself a case study of society.’ He argues however the dangers associated with having ‘productivity and economic benefit …outweigh other criteria for measuring program quality…We know that good programs often miss their predicted outcomes—and that weak or even unethical programs can generate desired outcomes.’ Kushner (2011).

  18. 18.

    See further (accessed 12.03.19).

  19. 19.

    See further (accessed 02.03.19).

  20. 20.

    A small but telling body of case law—examined briefly later on in this chapter—has grown up around student disappointment: the role of academics (involved in course administration and in the design and delivery of assessment) is also discussed. See further Palfreyman (2010) on how academic judgement ‘immunity’ is threatened by ECHR/Judicial Review cases, the Consumer Rights Act 2015, Equality & Discrimination laws, and a growing over-precision in the drafting of ‘learning outcomes;’ See also Kamvounias and Varnham (2006).

  21. 21.

    Lysova et al. (2018).

  22. 22.

    See also Pavlin and Svetlik (2014, p. 420), on how ‘…the core area for the competitive advantage of European countries seems to be the development of professional human resources via a well-considered higher education system.’

  23. 23.

    Borges et al. (2017), citing Baker (2008); and also citing Peltier et al. (2008) on how student organizations can contribute to future career preparation by offering ‘a professional development environment…and practical learning experiences’ (Peltier et al., 2008).

  24. 24.

    Arguing also that factors such as technology and corporate downsizing ‘have increased job mobility and brought attention to the art of self-managing careers’ and the need for ‘diverse competencies’ and ‘dynamic fluidity’ grounded in ‘transferable critical thinking skills’.

  25. 25.

    See further Tomlinson (2008) (as cited by Pinto and Ramalheira, 2017).

  26. 26.

    See further Hoover et al. (2010) on the emotional components underpinning behavioural skills, namely, emotional control and emotional management (p. 193).

  27. 27.

    Freire (1983); see also Freire (1985).

  28. 28.

    See also Moon (2019), who argues that ‘…the moral imperative of universities is to tackle societal and global issues and problems…the UN Sustainable Development Goals provide a framework which universities can use to guide teaching, research and practice to address problems of poverty and the effects of climate change.’ (available at, accessed 01.03.19).

  29. 29.

    See further Freire and Slover (1983) on how ‘…the student is the subject of the process of learning [to read and write] as an act of knowing and a creative act. The fact that he or she needs the teacher’s help, as in any pedagogical situation, does not mean that the teacher’s help annuls the student’s creativity…’See also Freire (2008).

  30. 30.

    Turner (2014), stressing that ‘while critics of the skills agenda in employability have argued for a shift in focus from skills to action..the two are in fact inextricably linked. Self-belief underpins action and needs to be developed alongside and through the development of skills within the context of the disciplinary curriculum.’

  31. 31.

    See further the excellent work of McKenzie (2015), on how the increasingly urgent ‘need’ for widespread, upward social mobility further stigmatises poverty, as ‘evidence’ of an apparent unwillingness or inability to learn, which may easily mask the presence of ‘strong, resourceful, ambitious people who are ‘getting by’, often with humour and despite facing brutal austerity.’

  32. 32.

    Audenaert et al. (2019).

  33. 33.

    Morin (2003), [as cited by de Paula Arruda Filho (2017)].

  34. 34.

    Delors et al. (2006).

  35. 35.

    (Emphasis added) adding that the 5th pillar (Learning to transform oneself and society) also ‘recognizes that each one of us can change the world by acting individually and together, and that quality education provides the tools to change society’ (p. 186).

  36. 36.

    See further Hoover et al. (2010) for a useful discussion of a whole-person learning and experiential/behavioural skill pedagogy, developed for an executive skills course (an MBA), aimed at addressing criticisms over program ‘irrelevancy’ and graduate skill sets.

  37. 37.

    See further Kemp-King (2016) arguing that ‘No matter what unquantifiable, subjective quality controls—such as the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF)—are put in place, the planned deregulation of the sector …could well result in an evolution of English universities echoing America’s experience. The new “for-profit” colleges could end up as little more than debt-generating engines with lower and lower entry standards and huge dropout rates blighting the financial future of a generation of graduates—and ultimately the entire economy’ (p. 38).

  38. 38.

    Arguing further that ‘on the other hand, there is a need to support investments’ in research and development … ‘whereby these investments shorten technological cycles and rapidly change job requirements which tend to increase…[raising] the problem of the fit between the knowledge and competencies that are acquired and actually required.’

  39. 39.

    On the challenges associated with this in the literal sense (and the harsh consequences of failing to offer any possible solutions) see Casal and Selamé (2015).

  40. 40.

    See also Brennan et al. (2013).

  41. 41.

    For a disheartening view of ‘social mobility’ see further The 2019 Report of the Social Mobility Commission ‘State of the Nation 201819: Social Mobility in Great Britain’ available at (accessed 30.04.19).

  42. 42.

    Adding that ‘research has been decoupled more and more from (mass) higher education and linked to the needs of the national economy’.

  43. 43.

    Clark v University of Lincolnshire and Humberside [2000] EWCA Civ 129.

  44. 44.

    Croskery’s application [2010] NIQB 129.

  45. 45.

    Siddiqui v The Chancellor, Masters & Scholars of the University of Oxford EWHC 184 (QB).

  46. 46.

    Ibid., at para 29: the student accepted that it was a difficult course with certain ‘issues peculiar to it’.

  47. 47.

    Ibid., at para 59.

  48. 48.

    Adding that, ‘…last year I was simply (and physically) unable to devote the same amount of time to each student—which, I accept, an exceptionally demanding student, such as [SB], may have taken as an affront to her ‘rights’…’.

  49. 49.

    Other urgent issues –which are beyond the scope of this book but can undoubtedly impact significantly upon students’ opportunities for success—include the need to better safeguard students who are vulnerable on the basis of e.g. undeclared or undiagnosed disabilities, mental health issues, financial hardship, gender or sexual orientation. Austerity measures clearly compound the strains on support mechanisms within HE. Greater funding for pastoral care and peer support systems could perhaps be framed as a key component of employability-enhancing measures.

  50. 50.

    Croskery’s application [2010] NIQB 129.

  51. 51.

    Ibid., [per Treacy J, at para 18. Article 6 of the European Convention (on the right to fair hearing) was also discussed].

  52. 52.

    Para 21.

  53. 53.

    Re Humzy Hancock [2007] QSC 034 His reasons for plagiarising are noteworthy: in addition to having collaborated on an essay with a fellow student, he also cited family issues which caused him to run short of time and fail to reference his sources correctly. A third incident involved a ‘take-home’ paper assessment, which had contained only minimal citation of sources.

  54. 54.

    The court looked, for example, at Liveri, Re [2006] QCA 152, and AJG, Re [2004] QCA 88, Law Society of Tasmania v Richardson [2003] TASSC 9.

  55. 55.

    See also Gopikrishna, R v The Office of the Independent Adjudicator [2015] EWHC 207, where the issue was one of the student being withdrawn, having failed her second-year medical exams, on the presumption that she had little chance of successfully completing the course. This was deemed ‘an act of academic judgement’ by the OIA (on which Offices, see further, accessed 21.03.19). The student argued that the decision-making process was unfair, because the university panel had looked only at her first year’s performance. Her mitigating circumstances had not been considered, nor had her personal tutor been consulted with (a requirement under the university’s own Regulations). Given that these factors equated to clear ‘failings of reason and procedure,’ the usual norms of academic judgement immunity did not apply.

  56. 56.

    See for example R (Mustafa) v OIA [2013] EWHC 1379 (Admin) on plagiarism, where the student gained a mark of zero, citing a number of mitigating factors. Having been assigned group work, for example, he claimed that he was unable to either find or join a group, so as to complete his assignment. An extension to the deadline had led to exhaustion and depression, which in turn impacted upon his exam performance. The court looked in detail at the University’s definition of plagiarism, noting that it differed to that of other HEIs. The OIA made it clear that questions of plagiarism (and the extent to which these might adversely affect a student’s mark) fell under the protective umbrella-immunity of academic judgement. See also R (Cardao-Pito) v OIA [2012], EWHC 203 (Admin) where a student complained that ‘harassment’ by a lecturer had adversely affected his mark.

  57. 57.

    On the need for an interdisciplinary approach to education (for sustainable development, and to acknowledge differing perspectives on sustainability and corporate social responsibility) see Annan-Diab and Molinari (2017).

  58. 58.

    Haertle et al. (2017).

  59. 59.

    See further (accessed 12.04.19).

  60. 60.

    See further (accessed 10.04.19).

  61. 61. (accessed 03.05.19); See also (accessed 05.05.19). See also;

  62. 62.

    Bandura (1989); See also Bandura (2005).

  63. 63.

    McKenzie (2015) at Loc. 3452, kindle ed).

  64. 64.

    Ibid., arguing further that universities ‘are not fully capable of managing CoPs, but they can provide the right environment for the CoPs to succeed’.

  65. 65.

    Outlining how a scientific-model approach to business studies can easily exclude ‘human intentionality or choice’ and ‘the use of sharp assumptions and deductive reasoning.’ On ‘the pretence of knowledge’ which can also occur in such scenarios, see further von Hayek (1989).

  66. 66.

    Hill and Petty (1995); see also Park and Hill (2016).

  67. 67.

    Arguably, we are their ‘trustees’ too in the sense that we must act equitably and fairly in overseeing their efforts to gain a university education.

  68. 68.

    Vassilis and Race (2007, p. 76) (emphasis added).


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Diver, A., Diver, G. (2019). Conclusion. In: Diver, A. (eds) Employability via Higher Education: Sustainability as Scholarship. Springer, Cham.

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