Purpose: This article explains the seeming paradox that lies behind Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) introducing new post-graduate (PG)-level courses at a time when overall Level 7 (L7) numbers are declining. To explore this, the article borrows from disruptive innovation theory which posits that new products inevitably become mainstream as the disruptive innovation takes hold and pre-established products become economically unviable. Design/Methodology/Approach: We test whether the Master of Research Degree (MRes) has disrupted the MA market within one subject area and a single HEI, moving it from the status of outlier to mainstream by displacing pre-established L7 products. To test the MRes’disruptive power we deploy a single case study design appropriate to in-depth empirical enquiry of complex, real-world, contemporary phenomenon. Findings: We find that the case-study MRes H&SS was disruptive in achieving consistent growth in recruitment, attainment levels and with progression rates from MRes H&SS to PhD. Originality: Our findings indicate a need to consider resource allocation when new educational products disrupt the established market with a potential refocusing of resources to the MRes H&SS and away from traditional taught L7 courses where student numbers will inevitably continue to contract. By updating and extending debates about the development, performance and future of L7 programmes of study, we advance sector understanding of a burgeoning and increasingly significant educational route.
|Journal||Studies in Graduate and Postdoctoral Education|
|Publication status||Submitted - 15 Aug 2020|