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No room at the top? The glass wall for professional services managers in pre-1992 English universities

Shepherd, Sue (2016) No room at the top? The glass wall for professional services managers in pre-1992 English universities. Perspectives: Policy and Practice in Higher Education, 21 (4). pp. 129-134. ISSN 1360-3108. E-ISSN 1460-7018. (doi:10.1080/13603108.2016.1256844)


Pre-1992 English universities are changing the way they appoint their deputy and pro-vice-chancellors (PVCs). Traditionally, PVC posts were filled by internal secondment from within the professoriate, but these days an increasing number are appointed by means of external open competition involving advertisement and/or executive search. So has this ‘opening up’ of PVC positions created new career progression opportunities for professional services managers? Findings from a census, online survey and interviews with a range of senior university managers suggest not. Despite the PVC role becoming more managerial, those getting the jobs remain overwhelmingly career academics. Professional services managers confront a glass wall, excluded from consideration by a non-negotiable requirement for academic credibility. Aware they have little chance of getting a PVC job, they are unlikely to apply. The continued monopolisation of PVC posts by academic managers represents a form of social closure that serves to maintain their elite status.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1080/13603108.2016.1256844
Uncontrolled keywords: Higher education, leadership, selection, deputy and pro-vice-chancellor, glass wall, social closure
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Social Policy Sociology and Social Research
Depositing User: S. Shepherd
Date Deposited: 20 Feb 2017 09:17 UTC
Last Modified: 29 May 2019 18:42 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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