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Track 1: Governance in Volatile Times

With track chairs Elke Welp-Park & Rosalind Pritchard

While teaching and learning underwent far-reaching transformations in recent years, governance issues appear comparatively stalled. Paradigmatic shifts away from New Public Management have not yet materialised – or have they? This track will focus on change in the internal and external steering of higher education.


New role of the state?

After an era of increased autonomy and university-state relations characterised by more indirect steering mechanisms and “accountability”, there are first indications that the nation state is tightening its grip again. This can pertain to equity and diversity management in higher education in which states — or supranational entities — act as mediators for societal needs, but also manifest political interference in HEI. What empirical evidence for a recalibration of the relationship between the state and higher education institutions can be identified? What changes in funding mechanisms and legislative frameworks can be observed? What are the effects of an increasingly restrictive funding environment and ongoing fiscal crisis on universities? 


“Coopetition” — from competition to cooperation?

In recent years, a shift from a competitive market to more collaborative structures (“coopetition”) in HE has been hailed by policy makers and the research community alike: which incentives are in place to foster cooperative efforts between higher education institutions and what are the practical limitations or obstacles to collaboration?


Steering by indicator-impact measurement

Calls for impact measurement of institutional actions are intensifying. HEIs are increasingly required to document and provide “proof” of the effectiveness of measures taken at the institutional level. New indicators and monitoring devices are currently being developed at national and European level to justify public spending. How do universities address calls for impact measurement? How can impact be measured in HE at all? What new indicators are HEIs confronted with and what challenges do they face in tackling this demand?  What forms of strategic agency can be observed by HEIs in positioning themselves? What is the future of rankings?


Societal engagement and opening up HE to external stakeholders

What efforts are currently under way to include external stakeholders (firms, civil society, “communities” or regions) in knowledge production processes at higher education institutions? Where do we stand with regard to creating more permeable “innovation ecosystems”? How are community engagement or third mission activities rewarded in career decisions and promotion practices at HEIs? How do they affect academic work? What shifts in academic culture can be observed?


Internal governance – Implementing change at the institutional level

How is organisational change actually implemented at higher education institutions? What barriers can be identified? What are the limits and scope of institutional strategies? How do changes reach “the shopfloor” and where does strategic agency emanate from? After over thirty years of reform, how has the managerial revolution played out in higher education? Where do we stand with regard to executive-style management of higher education institutions? What is the current state of academic self-governance and participatory voice at universities? What new developments in the governance of academic careers can be observed?

This track is chaired by:



Elke Welp-Park

University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria




Rosalind Pritchard

Ulster University

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