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University leaders respond to sector change

29 May 2019 | Advance HE Advance HE has published an inquiry into leadership practice and the impact of change on six higher education institutions (HEIs).

Advance HE has published an inquiry into leadership practice and the impact of change on six higher education institutions (HEIs).

Several key leadership qualities and core practices emerged from the inquiry when leaders discussed transforming their respective institution and expressed anxiety arising from increased competition and the pace of change. Case studies from Cardiff University, Canterbury Christchurch University, Coventry University, Glasgow Caledonian University, Ulster University and University of Central Lancashire were used to identify optimum leadership skills in times of change, which are:  

  • The ability to live with contradictions, ambivalence and doubt.
  • The development of practical judgement about when to intervene and when not to.
  • The ability of leaders to take themselves seriously and seek different ways of developing their capacities technically.
  • Developing enhanced political judgement about how to work productively with power, and as a result, developing an ability to work more skilfully in groups.
  • An enhanced ability to endure the negative emotions that result from profound processes of change.
  • Being able to tell a good story of change, uncluttered with cliché and jargon and recognise the circumstance and identity of the community being addressed.

The inquiry was created to respond to the enormous change in the higher education sector as a result of increased national and global competition and the shifting policy environment over the last 20 years. It is based on more than 40 interviews, producing more than 500 pages of transcript.

Download Transformational Change in the Higher Education Sector: an inquiry into leadership practice

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