Conceptualising student voice in UK higher education: four theoretical lenses

John Canning

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The ‘student voice' is highly profiled in UK higher education, yet highly undertheorised.Over the past 20 years UK universities have gone from a taxpayerfunded,free at the point of use model, to one supported through tuition fees viaGovernment-backed loans. Subsequently, there is a growth of discourse aboutuniversities as businesses and students as paying customers/ consumers whoseopinions and demands must be considered. This article outlines four possibletheoretical lenses (or frameworks) through which student voice can be analysed,enabling an exploration of the vested interests and power relations entailed.These lenses draw on 1) Research on student voice and power in compulsoryeducation; 2) Regulatory capture from Economics 3) The notion of students voiceas part of an incomplete whole and 4) non-representational theory, developed in Human Geography by Nigel Thrift
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)519-531
JournalTeaching in Higher Education
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 27 Dec 2016

Bibliographical note

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Teaching in Higher Education on 27/12/2016, available online:


  • Student voice
  • student engagement
  • regulatory capture
  • non-representational theory
  • participation


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