Steven Jones

Professor , Prof

  • Room EWB A1.19, Ellen Wilkinson Building

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Higher Education policy and practice, including university governance, especially using Discourse Analysis or other linguistic methods.

Personal profile

Methodological knowledge

I am a Professor of Higher Education at Manchester Institute of Education, teaching on the University's PGCert in Higher Education, and a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. I was Head of Manchester Institute of Education from June 2020 to Jan 2024.

Since completing my PhD (funded by the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council) in 1999, I've worked for several UK universities. At the University of Manchester, I have served as Director of Undergraduate Studies (2007-2010), Director of Social Responsibility (2010-11) for the School of Education, and Director of Postgraduate Studies for the School of Environment, Education and Development (2016-19). I was also an academic lead for the Faculty of Humanities New Academics Programme (2012-14).

I'm a member of the Council for the Defence of the British University (CDBU) leadership group, and have given papers at major international conferences in Mannheim and Freiburg (Germany), Louvain-la-Neuve (Belgium), Verona and Bertinoro (Italy) and San Francisco, New York and Chicago (USA). I've been interviewed about language use on BBC TV's The One Show and about my Higher Education research on BBC Radio Four's Today programme. My funders include the British Academy, the Society for Research in Higher Education, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, and the Sutton Trust, and I've undertaken consultancy work for OFFA and HEFCE. I've presented research findings to Universities UK, the Employers and Education Taskforce and the Department of Business, Innovation & Skills, as well as delivering a Westminster Briefing and speaking at the Sunday Times Festival of Education. In 2016, I was a member of the Academic Reference Group that reported directly to the government’s Social Mobility Advisory Group, a member of HEFCE's Learning Gain Expert Group, and I have twice taken part in roundtable discussions led by the Rt Hon Alan Milburn on behalf of the Social Mobility Commission. 

In 2015, I was one of four academics invited to discuss their research at the office of the Minister for Universities and Science in relation to the Teaching Excellence Framework and its associated metrics. I subsequently presented findings in the House of Commons alongside the Minister at a meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Universities group.

I was Vice Chair of Governors at Burnage Academy for Boys in South Manchester from 2016 to 2018 and am now a Trustee of the school.


Research interests

My primary research area is Higher Education

My most recent book, Universities Under Fire, looks at how higher education comes under increasing attack from politicians and media commentators, and explores counter-narratives that might allow public trust in the sector to be restored.

I am currently leading a project on university governance funded by the Campaign for the Defence of the British University.

I have always been particularly interested in the views held by young people from disadvantaged backgrounds about university, and how recent policy changes, such as increased tuition fees, are interpreted by non-traditional applicants. I have conducted funded research for UCAS, HEFCE and SRHE, and in collaboration with the Sutton Trust and the government-funded Employers and Education Taskforce.



PhD Supervision 

I welcome enquiries in the field of Higher Education policy and practice, especially those around university governance or that favour a discourse analysis methodology. My own research interests relate to access, disadvantage and equity (both in the UK and globally); I am also involved in projects examining issues of student and staff identity, and am increasingly focseed on discourses of Higher Education and methodologically innovative ways of exploring how universities are talked about.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 1 - No Poverty
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

External positions

Governor (and Vice Chair of Governors), Burnage Academy for Boys

1 Sept 2014 → …

Areas of expertise

  • LB2300 Higher Education


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