Newman and the Student: From formation to transformation

Wendy Bignold


This paper critically examines what a 21st Century university should be by actively employing the 19th Century educationalist John Henry Newman’s ‘Idea of a university’. The idea of a university in England and elsewhere is undergoing significant change as funding structures seemingly force greater marketisation and associated technical rationalism of education at all levels. With the new funding arrangements of 2012 upon us in England it would seem an appropriate time to reflect on what a modern university could be and what perhaps it should be in terms of curriculum content and student experience. Although Newman was writing in the mid/late 1800s, he was an original thinker and writer on these subjects and this paper will demonstrate how his ‘idea of a university’ still has relevance today. This paper considers some of his ideas on the formation of student identity and how these have been employed at Liverpool Hope University to develop a new Education Studies programme. The paper’s conclusion suggests that in the current context of educational economic change there is a need to move on from the mere formation of students to the transformation of students.

Bignold, W. (2012) Newman and the Student: From formation to transformation. Educationalfutures, [online] Vol. 4(2). Available at: [Accessed 21 Apr, 2024].