Tag: governance

Guest bloggers: The Politics of Higher Education Policies. Unravelling the Multi-level, Multi-actor, and Multi-issue dynamics

Dr. Jens Jungblut (INCHER, Kassel)

This guest entry is written by guest editors of a recent special issue in Policy and Society: Meng-Hsuan Chou, Jens Jungblut, Pauline Ravinet, and Martina Vukasovic. They briefly introduce the key focus of the special issue and describe the “three multi-s”.

In this thematic issue of Policy and Society (all contributions are openly accessible), we highlight the multi-level, multi-actor, and multi-issue (the ‘multi-s’) nature of public policy using the case of higher education policies.

We begin with an overview of how the global shift towards knowledge-based economies and societies has placed ‘knowledge’ at the core of contemporary public policy and policymaking. The governance of knowledge, however, is not a neatly contained policy coordination exercise: it requires collaboration across multiple policy sectors that may have previously experienced very little or less interaction. For example, we can think of a (non-exhaustive) list of relevant policy areas to include, such as higher education, research, trade, foreign policy, development, or migration. In our view, higher education policy coordination is thus permeated with respective sectoral concerns, with discussions taking place across distinct policy arenas, sometimes in silos, both inside and outside of formal government channels.

While the above characterization brings forth the multi-issue aspect competing for attention in higher education policy coordination, we suggest that it also points to the presence of multiple actors: state actors from different ministries or agencies, representatives from universities and businesses, other non-state actors (interest groups, stakeholder organizations), as well as users of such coordinative outputs (concerned parents, students, as well as employers). As regular readers of this blog would recognize: the multi-issue and multi-actor features of higher education policy coordination often result in duplication, competition, inconsistencies, clashing priorities, and even potential bureaucratic and political conflict (Braun, 2008; Peters, 2015)—all symptoms of horizontal policy coordination challenges (Gornitzka, 2010).

Guest blogger: From performance to conformance: The ‘coercive’ effect of performance-based governance systems

Dr. Peter Woelert

Dr. Peter Woelert

Dr Peter Woelert is a Research Fellow in the Melbourne Graduate School of Education at the University of Melbourne. He has training in sociology and philosophy. His research interests include current trends in university and research policy & governance, organizational change within universities, and organizational forms of university autonomy. 

Over recent decades, many governments have sought to comprehensively reform the system-level policy and governance arrangements for their public universities. One central element of this reform has been the strengthening of performance-based funding mechanisms, with a growing proportion of public funds being distributed to universities according to the results (or ‘outputs’) achieved by them.

A striking case in point for this trend is the Australian higher education system. Since the late 1980s, various Australian governments have developed a funding system for their universities that places paramount emphasis on the performance-based allocation of funds. Most far-reaching have been the changes to the funding of university-based research activities.

In Australia, all recurrent governmental research funding – as compared to the competitive research grant funding awarded by the two Australian research councils – is allocated to universities on the basis of an indicator-based funding formula. The key performance indicators in this regard are the number of publications, external research income, and the number of students completing research degrees such as a doctorate, and which are applied equally to all Australian universities. While indicator-based public research funds only form a relatively small proportion of the annual income of Australian universities (in between 5-10%), they are taken extremely seriously at the university level, and have had a lasting impact on institutional governance systems.

Most notably in this regard is that within the Australian university system, the reshaping of system-level funding arrangements has triggered a vertical adaptation process as a result of which various organizational levels of the university almost identically replicate the performance criteria that are applied to it from above.

This begins with the executive center of the university, which usually applies the same or nearly the same performance criteria across the university’s organizational divisions that the Australian government uses for the performance-based allocation of research funds across the entire university sector.

Podcast: Horizontal governance and learning dynamics in higher education

We are pleased to share with you a presentation of some of the key messages from a large scale project “Horizontal governance and learning dynamics in higher education (HORIZON). The project is undertaken at the Faculty of Educational Sciences in University of Oslo.

In the presentation, Prof Peter Maassen, Prof Monika Nerland, dr. Jennifer Olson, dr. Hilde Afdal and dr Crina Damsa share their insights about he project. The seminar was recorded on 11th of February at the University of Melbourne.

Group presentation

Prof. Monika Nerland | Prof. Peter Maassen | Dr. Crina Damsa | Dr. Jennifer Olson | Dr. Hilde Afdal


Download the powerpoint slides for the presentation here

HORIZON project outline: 

The HORIZON project is aimed at contributing to an improved understanding of major change dynamics in higher education with respect to higher education governance and learning processes in higher education institutions, as well as the way these two are connected.

Seminar: a new social contract for higher education

We are pleased to present you another recorded session from the HEIK academic seminar series in the field of higher education. This lecture was recorded in December 2013 and features Professor Peter Maassen who in this presentation discusses the new social contract for higher education.

Abstract for the session: 

Seminar recording: the early history and governance of Harvard College with Tito Correa

Tito Correa (University of Cambridge)

Tito Correa (University of Cambridge)

We are pleased to feature another recording from the academic seminar series of the research group HEIK (Higher Education: Institutional dynamics and Knowledge cultures) at University of Oslo.

The seminar sheds light on some of the surprising and previously unknown aspects about the establishment of Harvard College and how its initial governance structure was set up on 17th century. The story unfolds around Harvards first beneficiary John Harvard, and two puritans William Ames and Hugh Peter who had important influence during the prehistory of Harvard College.

The seminar was recorded in December 2012 in Oslo, and you can view the full abstract of the seminar here.

Tito Correa is an alumni of the Hedda master programme and is currently enrolled as a doctoral student at the University of Cambridge where his research project is focused on the early history of Harvard.

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