Learning at the Edge of Chaos


  • Paul Kleiman Higher Education Academy


In June 2011, in the UK, the government’s ‘White Paper’ on the future of higher education in England was published (BIS, 2011). At its heart is a paradigm shift from a largely publicly funded system to a privately funded system via significant increases in student fees. So, what might we do, in higher education, in our attempts to negotiate our way through what many find to be an unfamiliar, discomforting, increasingly complex landscape? This paper argues that one of the things we might usefully do is to strive to understand the complex and often chaotic nature of what confronts us. In their most recent annual survey of 1500 CEOs in 60 countries, IBM (2010) found a significant change in what those CEOs considered to be the greatest challenges and the qualities they valued most highly. For the first time, those CEOs now saw dealing with and managing complexity as their greatest challenge, and they identified three factors that might provide them with the best opportunity to capitalise on that complexity: creativity, operational dexterity and reinventing customer relationships or ‘developing customer intimacy’. However, one is unlikely to see ‘developing student intimacy’ in any of our institutional mission statements.

Author Biography

Paul Kleiman, Higher Education Academy

Iylvia Huntley-Moore is currently Director of Staff Education and Development in the School of Nursing and Midwifery, Trinity College Dublin. From 1995-2002 she was the College's Staff Development Manager. Prior to that she was a lecturer in the Centre for Staff Development at the University of Wollongong, Australia, where her primary role was to manage the University's Student Evaluation Programme with particular reference to associated academic development activities for individuals and academic departments.