20 January 2012

A unique project which sets out to examine the themes and trends of Higher Education Institutions with a satellite campus is published in the latest Leadership Foundation for Higher Education (LF) journal, Engage.

The project, led by Dr Craig Gaskell, Principal of the University of Hull’s Scarborough Campus, aims to increase understanding of how universities with more than one campus operate across different and often distant sites.

<  The University of Hull's Scarborough Campus

In order to develop the study, a precise definition of “satellite campus” has been developed; there has to be a main site for the institution, a minimum travelling time between main and satellite, and a critical mass of students at the satellite both in absolute terms and percentage of institutional full time education (FTE).

Eleven case studies were identified and Dr Gaskell conducted a telephone conversation with the member of staff responsible for each satellite, before following up with a site visit. Each participant covered ten pre-determined high level theme areas and on completion of the fieldwork, a workshop was organised for all participating institutions to share early findings and discuss emerging themes.

An initial analysis of the data revealed a number of core themes, trends and potential theories.  There was a clear indication of a different perspective of the institution for those based on the satellite and the importance of understanding this at a senior institutional level was highlighted. Campus voice, representation (staff and students) and approaches to governance varied, including the approach taken by the students’ unions. Students tended not to travel between campuses although staff travel was more common and there was also some evidence of gravitational pull towards the main site for academic staff.

Dr Craig Gaskell says: “This project has opened up many interesting angles and has proved to be a useful opportunity for institutions to come together and share best practice. We would be interested to hear from others in the sector and would be pleased to hear from any other colleagues interested in participating in the network.”

The project was funded by the Leadership Foundation’s Small Development Projects fund and is published in their latest journal.