02 Sep 2003
Making "World-class Universities"
The realization of world-class universities is a dream of every researcher and national government. However, making them and maintaining their status is difficult even in highly developed industrial countries. Consequently, national governments tend to concentrate financial investment in their top universities, usually with the support of leading members of the academic community.
It is not clear that such sponsored development of a limited number of universities is truly the most efficient approach to enhancing the quality of research and development in any one country. Similar to the effect of Korea’s BK21 scheme, dispute among researchers was widespread when the Japanese government endeavoured to select around 30 "top" universities. In order to provide sustainable incentives, foster accountability and promote competition among institutions, national policies must aim for the enrichment of "flagship universities" while continuing to support the knowledge infrastructure for "ordinary" ones. This article analyses Japanese "World-Class Universities" policies from the perspectives of both researchers and the national government. This topic is treated as an issue facing most OECD countries.
02 Sep 2003
Steerage of Research in Universities by National Policy Instruments
In June 1999 the Australian Government signalled, with the publication of a Green Paper, its intention to reform research and the training of research students in universities. After a period of public and institutional comment and debate, the reforms eventuated and the new policies result in performance based funding for research and research training, which is separated from the base of funding of coursework teaching. The new funding mechanisms can shift core government research resources across universities.
Within universities, funding inputs from government need to be directed internally to research-active areas with large numbers of research students and substantial external grants, which contribute most strongly to the performance indicators that bring in the funding. This train of funding from government through to internal resource allocation can be modelled and the results imply potentially permanent changes in the character of universities, by changing the way academic work is funded and accounted for. Funding models can leave teaching-active sections, if they have few research students and little external grant funding, without the means to support even basic levels of research and scholarship. This threatens the standard and nature of university teaching, which by its nature should take place within a culture of sustained scholarship and creation of new knowledge through research. The paper discusses these issues, in the context of models for funding of research, and the responses by university managers and grass-roots academics to the challenges of adapting to the new policy and funding framework.
02 Sep 2003
The United Kingdom's Research Assessment Exercise
UK universities are publicly funded to carry out teaching and research. Since the mid-1980s, the bulk of the research stream of institutional grants has been allocated on the basis of periodic research assessment exercises, the most recent of which was completed in 2001. The results of RAE2001 will influence institutional grants from 2002-03 onwards. This article explains the RAE system, discusses its advantages and drawbacks, outlines a framework within which it can be analysed, and examines some of the available evidence about the impact of the RAE. The article then concludes that the RAE system as presently operated has outlived its usefulness, and that it should be replaced by an allocation method based on the volume of research grants and contracts attracted to an institution. A short postscript updates the article to take into account the White Paper on higher education that was published in the United Kingdom in January 2003.
02 Sep 2003
The Lack of a National Policy Regime of Quality Assurance in Germany – Implications and Alternatives
Due to its federal order and unlike countries as the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, Germany has no national policy regime of quality assurance in higher education. There are several instruments aiming at defining minimum standards or assessing quality in some way, but none is targeted at quality assurance on a national level. State approval of courses and universities is within the responsibility of the individual states ("Länder") and follows more or less formal criteria. Evaluation is carried out either by single universities or on a regional level (e.g. in the "Nordverbund"). As a consequence their results did not get much public attention. Accreditation is still in its infancy and restricted to the newly introduced Bachelor and Master courses. The only nation-wide instruments of comparison in higher education are rankings that are carried out by private institutions. The implications of this lack of a national policy regime are discussed with respect to both national policies of quality assurance and rankings. Key methodological standards for rankings which they have to meet in order to fulfil their function, are outlined.
02 Sep 2003
Evaluating Teaching and Research Activities Finding the Right Balance
Since 1990, research and teaching activities of academic staff in Spanish universities have been periodically assessed. There are national, regional and institutional assessments. Each evaluation is organized in a different way and the organisation itself reflects the importance given to each activity. In most cases, positive assessment are linked to a salary increase and other perk benefits. In this article, we analyse the evaluation system of teaching and research activities and how they could be, in fact, orienting to promote research activities and, as a consequence, to devaluate teaching activities.
02 Sep 2003
The Impact of the State on Institutional Differentiation in New Zealand
The New Zealand higher education system is a small but complex arrangement of colleges, polytechnics, institutes of technology and universities that on the surface appears to display admirable diversity for a system that serves around four million people. However, while major legislation introduced in 1990 formalised four distinct types of public tertiary institution, in practical terms, the last 12 years have been characterised by the progressive convergence of institutional types.
Through a brief historical review and the analysis of institutional mission and values statements, and published performance indicators, this article explores and illustrates different perspectives of diversity amongst New Zealand higher education institutions which have converged over the last 12 years. This convergence occurred during an extended period of deregulation in which the market has acted as a surrogate for overt government policy in shaping the direction of the system and the institutions within it. Even recent formal government policy supporting the development of strong and distinct institutional identities and greater differentiation amongst tertiary institutions has been thwarted by the same government’s intervention to prevent system change by limiting the number of universities in the country.
02 Sep 2003
New Mechanisms of Incentives and Accountability for Higher Education Institutions
This article aims to examine the new mechanisms of accountability and incentives for higher education institutions (HEIs) that are emerging at regional level in relation to the development of knowledge-based economies and new structures of governance. A new landscape of higher education emerging in a particular region in the United Kingdom will be analysed, and the influence of multiple levels of public policy instruments will be considered, including national and European policy initiatives as well as the influence of the globalisation of the economy. The seeks a new conceptualisation of "accountability" in a decentralised national framework in light of the formation of "localised learning systems" in the global learning society. The different roles and functions ascribed to universities at various geographical levels, namely, local, regional, national and international, are becoming highly complex, and universities will need to share more effectively some of their key functions with other institutions in society. Incentive mechanisms are needed to create links between "entrepreneurial universities" and other stakeholders in society within a strategic framework.
02 Sep 2003
A Power Perspective on Programme Reduction
In the beginning of the 1990s, Dutch government and representatives of employers’ organisations have urged the higher professional education sector (HBO) to restructure the supply of the programmes in the sub-sectors of HBO. The sub-sectors were challenged to cut back the number of study programmes to increase the efficiency of the supply. A theoretical framework based on resource dependence and network analysis is proposed to explain why different sub-sectors have reacted differently to the pressure to reduce the pressure. An empirical analysis is carried out for foursub-sectors: agriculture, economics, engineering and the socialcultural sector. The hypotheses could only partly be confirmed, but the simultaneous effect of government dependence, labour market dependence and sub-sector heterogeneity can be shown. Given the restricted number of cases, suggestions for further research are formulated. At the same time, it is implied to complement the chosen quantitative macro-approach with micro-analyses (case studies) on the emergence and disappearance of study programmes.
02 Sep 2003
"Leadership" and "Governance" in the Analysis of University Organisations
This paper is a critical review of the Anglo-Saxon literature since the 1960s on university leadership and governance. The critique draws on a substantial amount of empirical work on operating procedures and governance in French universities. The intention is to show that the issue of university leadership has been analysed using too personalised, disembodied or normative an approach, and that the analysis of university governance has been too piecemeal. The alternative proposed here is a new definition of university governance to reflect its many facets, namely conflict/ co-operation between leaders, the interdependence of the many collegial bodies involved in decision-making, and the relations between leaders and representative bodies.