Assessment of Strategic Human Resource Management

Assessment of Strategic Human Resource Management

Education Wars – may the HR force be with you!

You are the SHRM Director of the University of Education Excellence in the UK, one of the ‘new’ universities, which came about because of the reforms in higher education in the 1990s.  Over the past 12 months, staff morale has ‘nosedived’.  Confidence in education standards has fallen due to a plethora of government reports, headline news and employer concern over the quality of graduates entering the job market.  At the same time, the economic downturn has meant that students and parents are thinking twice before spending their hard-earned cash on an education, which provides no guarantee of a promising career at the end of it.  Two examples within the sector provide a damming insight into these concerns.

Firstly, the latest university application figures show a fall of 8% compared with the same point last year and are the lowest for at least six years.  The head of the Million+ university group says “alarm bells should be ringing in government”.  The UCAS admissions figures up to mid-November show 13,000 fewer applications – down for both UK and overseas and arguing that the introduction of higher tuition fees had seen a drop in applications for autumn 2012 (

Secondly, and if the first point wasn’t worrying enough, the UK Border Agency (UKBA) have been clamping down on Education Visa’s seeing them as a means for foreign nationals to enter the country illegally on the back of an application to become seen as on overseas student within the UK University Sector.  Indeed, London Metropolitan University lost its licence to recruit overseas students outside of the European Union (EU) in August 2012 and has seen a knock-on effect in a sharp fall in the number of new domestic students.  So far in this academic year it has less than half the number of new students it had in the previous year with data released under a Freedom of Information request showing the number of UK and EU recruits at the university has fallen from 11,000 last year to about 6,000 this year.  The number of new students from outside the EU fell from 2,000 to about 300.  The university accepts bad headlines about the loss of its licence affected recruitment, but denies a crisis.  The UK Border Agency said it took the action because the university was not making proper checks on its overseas students – that it did not keep records of whether they had the required standard of English to be given a student visa or whether they were attending lectures.  (

It is clear that unless there is a ‘realistic’ look at such issues, changes may need to be implemented surrounding the ‘people’ side of the business.  Indeed, faced with such concerns, there is talk at the University of Education Excellence in the UK amongst the staff of redundancies, the probable closure of some departments, and a culture of blame.   To aID to the problem, student complaints on a range of matters are on the rise.  At Governor Level the discussions are about the ‘University’s’ market position and future stability.  These are, indeed, troubled times for the HE Sector!

In its short history, the focus of education provision at The University of Education Excellence has been one of expansion, providing a range of new academic courses, some of which have not met with popular press approval, i.e., the BA (Hons) in Business and Yachting; not to mention tackling local and national post 18 education competitors ‘head-on’ to secure those all-important ‘bums on seats’!  The ‘Management’ believed that the University’s focus has always been on the ‘customer’ (academics still consider them to be students!) by emphasising quality through friendly service, a broad range of suitable academic courses to cater for a variety of tastes and an ‘open-door’ policy to encourage open communications linked with the drive for raising standards in learning and development.  However, with ever-increasing pressure on class sizes, the three-fold rise in course fees, availability of resources (i.e., a greater need for sizeable classrooms with ‘up-to-date’ technology) and unrest over such matters as car parking, job security and whole scale cutbacks, it appears that these essential qualities have been put on hold.

Other than a growing concern over general standards of teaching and learning in the Higher Education sector and potential loss of student numbers, other problems are now emerging which appear to be stemming from a number of HRM factors which The Board of Governors have identified through their latest employee attitude survey and from a more recent student survey which was carried out by an independent body.  Some of the main issues are outlined below:

Customer Concerns
•    Unacceptable delays in enrolment and general admissions onto programmes of both home, EU and international students
•    Accusations from customers of ‘being let down’ by modules and programmes of study which do not reflect the promotional literature
•    Indifferent support from staff in dealing with student concerns, queries and complaints
•    Ineffective management

Employee Concerns
•    Growing sickness culture
•    High levels of labour turnover
•    Low job satisfaction
•    Poor communication throughout the University
•    Remuneration scales which appear to be outdated and not always reflective of the job content
•    Trade union unrest and stoppages
•    Little evidence of continuous employee development
•    Poor succession planning
•    Ineffective management

In short, the business from an HRM point of view seems to have grown out of control and has left ‘The Board’ wondering what can now be done to re-dress such matters.

Faced with the prospect of a ‘gloomy future’ for all employed and potential loss of customers to local, national and international competitors, you, as the HRM Director, are now charged to investigate how ‘people’ issues may be resolved to suggest ways forward.  You realise that issues around Employee Development, Employee Relations, Employee Resourcing and Employee Reward are paramount to achieving business success, no matter the current state of the sector!  More specifically, how such themes link into the corporate strategy of the University which points to a need for there to be in place a vision statement, business strategy and human resource management strategy are also central to the drive towards organisational success.  At the same time, the need for a cutting edge approach to learning and development and the reinforcing of current and future customers’ confidence remains paramount.  There is talk from various ‘Educationalists and Government Think-Tanks’ that the situation will get worse before it gets better!
The Task
Discuss the significance of current contextual issues impacting the case study in 500 words
•    Analysis on internal/external factors then PESTEL and SWOT

•    Pick key influences from the PESTEL or SWOT to show how this impacts the business right now.
•    To back impacts up show examples using case studies, real life examples from BBC News etc

Notes for Students:
1.    Report Format with appropriate headers, appendices and content inclusions
2.    Double line spacing with 25mm margins all round
3.    Harvard referencing is a requirement
4.    The work must incorporate both a reference page and bibliography page
5.    This individual report constitutes 100% of the mark for this module.


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