Senior management perspectives of mathematics and statistics support in higher education: moving to an ‘ecological’ approach

Michael Grove, Helen Mackenzie, Harry Tolley, Anthony Croft, Duncan Lawson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

132 Downloads (Pure)


This article explores the perspectives of three senior managers in higher education institutions in England regarding their mathematics and statistics support provision. It does so by means of a qualitative case study that draws upon the writing of Ronald Barnett about the identity of an ‘ecological’ university, along with metaphors associated with the notion of organisations as living ‘organisms’, suggested by Gareth Morgan. Using these ideas as a heuristic sheds light upon the view that whilst outwardly universities appear to represent a uniform landscape, mathematics and statistics support alternatively, can be seen as different ‘species’ within the higher education system. The study illustrates how three universities occupying contrasting ecological ‘niches’ are responding to the challenges they face by providing and planning different forms of learning support for mathematics and statistics. In conclusion, it is recommended that senior managers reflect upon the possibilities offered by the idea of ‘ecological’ identities in order to explore how they might respond strategically to a rapidly changing environment. This includes adapting various solutions and the further development of innovative ways of supporting students’ transitions throughout the academic lifecycle. In addition, an ecological approach could also aid the formation of the co-creational relationships and networks required for the future success of those developments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)550-561
JournalJournal of Higher Education Policy and Management
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jun 2016


  • Ecological university
  • higher education
  • management,
  • mathematics and statistics support
  • student transition


Dive into the research topics of 'Senior management perspectives of mathematics and statistics support in higher education: moving to an ‘ecological’ approach'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this