Changing Universities

Changing Unis lo resCHANGING UNIVERSITIES: A memoir about academe in different places and times

ISBN: 978-0-9870865-9-4
Publisher: Strictly Literary, 2013
Paperback, 352pp, 210mmm x 1480mm

 Cover pictures: My first and last universities (and many in between): University of Tasmania as it was in the ’50s, University of Hong Kong as in the ’90s.

How have universities changed over the past 60 years? Are they functioning any better now than they once were? These are some of the issues that I face in reviewing my long academic career.

From student days I wanted to apply psychology to education. It was a long journey via universities in Australia, the UK, Canada and Hong Kong. My experiences were variously traumatic, bizarre, hilarious and rewarding, with the SOLO Taxonomy and constructive alignment as outcomes. My experiences tell what universities were once like, how they came to be what they are today, with a hopeful stab at what they might be like in future. I am critical of the modern corporate university but deny that, once upon a time, universities exemplified a Golden Age of scholarship …. Far from it.

“A fascinating and readable account of the significant changes in universities wrought by the new managerial corporate style, with a loss of many of those features academics have prized as the key aspects of university life. Biggs enriches this account with his own personal story, which he tells vividly and frankly. I could not put it down. I found it first class.”                                                                           Professor Alan Gregory in Times Higher Education

“Biggs is a true scholar, happiest when left to his research and teaching. He had administration thrust upon him … but he thrust back.”                         John Kirby, Professor of Education and Psychology, Queen’s University, Canada

“There have been many books about the major changes to universities — usually decrying the managerialism,pursuit of funding and lack of collegiality.  John Biggs tells the story of change via a remarkable career – across four continents, seven universities, and different cultures. The intrigues, the power users and abusers, the games, and the spineless nature of too many within the universities seems not have changed for the last 50 years. More fun to read than the current attacks on universities, Changing Unversities still raises serious questions about how universities are run, for what reason, and for what benefits. This is a perfect read not only for current academics, especially for those moving to senior administrative positions,  but also for outsiders who wonder what happens in the ivory towers.”
John Hattie, Professor of Education and Director, Melbourne Education Research Institute, University of Melbourne

Available as e-book and hard copy on Lulu and on Kindle  or better still FREE PDF if you email   

Some excerpts from chapters:
As a teacher in Luton England I face a punishing task:                                          Chapter 3
From practice to theory at the National Foundation for Educational Research       Chapter 4
Some academic puffery at the University of Newcastle (but worse to come)      Chapter 8
Teaching psychology at the University of Hong: a dream run                                Chapter 16
A brief look at the place of universities in society                                                  Chapter 17