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Jill Johnes (University of Huddersfield)

The quest for efficiency in higher education: Experience from England and the UK over 5 decades

Social Sciences Conference Wednesday 25, October 2023, 9:30 hours

Organized by:

Grupo de Investigación en Economía de la Educación Autonomous University of Madrid


Carmen Pérez-Esparrells

Autonomous University of Madrid.

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As universities in the UK have transitioned over the last 5 decades from offering higher education for the elite to higher education for the masses, funding mechanisms have inevitably needed to change. Cost sharing in higher education has shifted from public to private sources, and universities in the UK have been encouraged through various policy initiatives to maximise their efficiency and productivity in order to get the most from their funding. But just how should universities’ efficiency be measured? In this public lecture I will summarise the policy changes in UK higher education across 5 decades and I will review the accompanying body of research into university efficiency over the same period. I will end by briefly looking at some of the consequences of policy reforms. The UK is not alone in the challenges it has faced in funding a rapidly-expanding higher education sector and there are many lessons for other countries, including Spain, in the experiences and research that I present.

Wednesday,  25th october

09:30 h.

The quest for efficiency in higher education – Experience from England and the UK over 5 decades

Rapporteur: Carmen Pérez-Esparrells. Autonomous University of Madridd
Speaker: Prof. Jill Johnes (University of Huddersfield)


Jill Johnes

Over her 35-year career, Jill Johnes, Professor of Production Economics, has been involved in teaching, research, and leadership. She holds a Pilkington Teaching Award from Lancaster University (1991), and a National Teaching Fellowship from the Higher Education Academy (2011). She has an established international research record in the field of higher education efficiency and has advised various national and international bodies. Jill has used her experience in teaching and research in her role as Dean of Huddersfield Business School which she held until January 2023. The School’s growing reputation is demonstrated by rising international rankings and successful accreditation journeys including the Small Business Charter (2022); the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (2023); and shortlisting for Times Higher Business School of the Year (2023). Whilst Dean, Jill has diversified the School’s portfolio including developing a strong business engagement agenda, through placements, consultancy, degree apprenticeships, executive education courses, and knowledge transfer partnerships. She has personally been involved in the production of the Kirklees Top 100 Companies List and is on the Yorkshire and Humber Leadership Board of Business in the Community. She continues this agenda in her part-time role as Director of External Engagement.


Carmen Pérez-Esparrels

Carmen Perez-Esparrells holds a B.A. in Economics and Business Administration, and an M.A. in Economics of Education and Labour Economics. Her Ph.D. is in Economics with a dissertation thesis in university funding. Currently she is Associate Professor at the Department of Economics and Public Finance of Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM). She has previously held the positions of Vice-Rector for Innovation at UAM, and of Associate Researcher at the Institute for Fiscal Studies, Spanish Ministry of Finance. She has been a member of the Association of Economics of Education (AEDE) since its inception in 1990 and has held the position of President from 2012 to 2014. She is member of Studia XXI a “think tank” under the umbrella of the European Foundation of Society and Education. She is also Director of Quality and Development of the Blog Universidad (https://www.universidadsi.es/) which contributes to the debate on university policies and strategies focusing on the role of universities in promoting positive societal impact.

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