University Research Activities

On-going Transformations and New Challenges

Institutional Management in Higher Education

In times when excellence is at the top of the research  agenda of all research and innovation policies, especially in Europe, research universities are the implicit reference model of most policy makers and most public debates. However, the implications, that is a major geographical concentration of public means and the existence of a dual system of training, are rarely highlighted; it is on the contrary, often when there are references to "cohesion". This paper suggests that, although this trend is clearly visible, the situation is more complex. In particular, the analysis overlooks another central role of universities: they have also become the main proximity knowledge provider. Both trends combine and result in radical transformation of university organisation – the separation of teaching departments from research structures, may these be called groups, units, centres, institutes or laboratories. This leads to question whether their present organisation is relevant to the socio-economic environment: I argue that the very fast increase of not-for-profit associations/foundations closely linked to universities are a lasting and promising feature of the university-society connection. These changes call for more study of university governance, certainly a pressing issue in countries like France.

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