Incentives and Accountability

Instruments of change

Institutional Management in Higher Education

Observers have frequently pointed to a lack of openness in French universities and university institutions, but I may say that for several years now French universities, and more generally the entire higher education system in France, have been engaged in efforts to make the process more open in all respects.

The institutions of French higher education are moving towards increasing autonomy. I shall seek, in this article, to show that the French system is equipped with a number of incentive mechanisms. These are both collective, institutions having the opportunity to generate their own resources, and also individual, taking the form of personal bonuses. In the same way, universities are subject to much more frequent monitoring than is thought, which could lead to elements of a system of evaluation. But the oversight that the French Government has over public higher education and research institutions is both excessive and inadequate: it is finicky and poorly targeted and therefore badly organised and ineffective from the point of view of meeting society’s legitimate expectations. The idea I should like to promote is in fact quite simple: it is by making institutions more accountable by actually increasing their autonomy that we shall promote incentive systems both for individuals and for institutions and that we shall impose an effective method of evaluation – the only ways of ensuring real change at the heart of our system of higher education and research. Incentive systems are needed to motivate people, institutions need increased autonomy if their action is to be more effective and a real system of evaluation is needed to ensure management and decision-making accountability for partners and to assess the ability of institutions to achieve the strategic objectives they have set themselves

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