Student voice in higher education: opening the loop

Young, Helen ORCID: and Jerome, Lee ORCID: (2020) Student voice in higher education: opening the loop. British Educational Research Journal, 46 (3) . pp. 688-705. ISSN 0141-1926 [Article] (doi:10.1002/berj.3603)

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UK national policy and the practices of university course boards tend to reduce understandings of ‘student voice’ to a feedback loop. In this loop, students express feedback, the university takes this on board then they tell the students how they have responded to their feedback. The feedback loop is a significant element of the neoliberal imaginary of higher education globally. This qualitative research study drew on interviews with course representatives in three universities in England and on policy analysis to explore the discursive construction and enactment of student voice. It uses the feedback loop as an analytical frame. Drawing on Foucault’s later work, the article aims to open up the feedback loop by exploring its manifestation in the mundane everyday practices of universities. In opening the loop, we identify the following effects of the student voice policy ensemble: students have to construct feedback as it is not just waiting to be gathered; it promotes a dividing practice where reps are positioned differently to other students; there is a focus on problems; an ‘us and them’ is reinforced between staff and students; the loop closes down discussion; and a managerial logic obscures political processes. The article articulates its opening of the loop as a way of unmasking the modes of power which work through discourses of ‘student voice’ and hence seeks to create possibilities for resistance to being governed this way.

Item Type: Article
Keywords (uncontrolled): feedback loop, student engagement, student satisfaction, course representative
Research Areas: A. > School of Health and Education > Education
Item ID: 29495
Notes on copyright: This is the pre-peer reviewed version of the following article: Young, H. and Jerome, L. (2020), Student voice in higher education: Opening the loop. Br Educ Res J, 46: 688-705. doi:10.1002/berj.3603, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions.
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Depositing User: Lee Jerome
Date Deposited: 05 Mar 2020 11:24
Last Modified: 09 Feb 2022 10:35

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