Calibration of Stakeholder Influence in the UK Higher Education Sector

Laura McCann* (Corresponding Author), Norman Hutchison, Alastair Adair

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
4 Downloads (Pure)


Over the last 20 years the UK Higher Education sector has experienced a significant change to its funding base with a shift away from government funding, to operating within a highly competitive marketised environment. This shift has impacted on the governance and management structures within the sector, with universities encouraged to adopt a more corporate and managerial style. Moreover, over this period, universities have evolved and adapted to social, economic, environmental and technological changes, necessitating a change in dialogue with the large number of internal and external stakeholders who influence Higher Education policy as well as university practices and
operations. Adopting a Stakeholder and Resource Dependency Theory perspective, this paper seeks to calibrate the changing influence and importance of these stakeholders.
The paper analyses a survey of 22 university secretaries1 conducted in mid-2020, and the results show that academic staff and students are seen as the most influential internal stakeholders as the quality of teaching and research is vital to the reputation and attractiveness of the university in a global
market. Undergraduate home students are seen as the most influential student group due largely to the numbers enrolled, followed by international postgraduate taught students, an outcome consistent with resource dependency theory. UK and devolved governments2 are seen as the most influential
external stakeholder reflecting their role in university funding and in setting Higher Education policy and regulation, an influence that has increased over the past two decades. The influence of financial stakeholders has also grown over the past two decades.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1502-1523
Number of pages23
JournalStudies in Higher Education
Issue number7
Early online date21 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • stakeholder and resource dependency theory
  • UK universities
  • marketisation


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