23 SES 12 B JS, New Public Management and Standardization in Higher Educaton in Europe: Implications for Academic Work and Graduate Employability
Symposium Joint Session NW 22 with NW 23
In 2003 Denmark got a new law on universities which changed the ways universities are governed significantly. According to Oddershede (2009), universities in Denmark until 1993 had “what has been called the most extensive collegial democratic self-management law in the world” (Oddershede, 2009, p. 1). The rector as well as the lower levels of leadership like heads of departments etc. was all elected by and among the academic collegiate. In 1993, the rectors were given more influence. The main part of the governance, however, was still in the hands of the collegiate via the elected representatives until the changes in 2003. With the law on universities from 2003 (Danish Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, 2003), the elected governing body was replaced by a board consisting of a majority of external members. Among its tasks, the board appoint the rector who is, thus, no longer elected by and among the academic collegiate. The lower leadership levels like deans and heads of departments are also appointed in a hierarchic structure. As result of the changes, the governance of the universities now reminiscent that of a private company. The understanding of universities being like private companies is also mirrored in the title in a publication from the Danish Government (2003): “New ways between research and business – from thought to invoice”, stressing that research must be profitable. The changes in Danish university governance are not unique to Denmark but can be seen in other parts of Europe as well. According to Dobbins, Knill & Vögtle (2011), thus, “Many of the ongoing reforms in Europe, in particular, have been subsumed under the banner of “marketization”, ranging from the partial retreat of the state as a financier, to the allocation of strategic authority to university management, and to an increasing focus on the economic utility of teaching and research” (ibid., p. 666). The aim of this paper is to look closer into the changes in the governance of the universities in the light of New Public Management and a dominating neo-liberal discourse. The methodological approach is document analysis looking into the arguments behind the changes. Documents included in the analysis will be preliminary law with comments as well as other documents related to the preparatory legislative work. The results of the analysis will be related to theories on New Public Management and neo-liberalisation.
Danish Government. (2003). Nye veje mellem forskning og erhverv – fra tanke til faktura [New ways betwen research and business – from thought to invoice]. Copenhagen: author. Danish Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation. (2003). Law on Universities. Law no. 403 of 28. May 2003. Copenhagen. Dobbins, M., Knill, C. & Vögtle, E.M. (2011). “An analytical framework for the cross-country comparison of higher education governance”. Higher Education, 62(5), 665-683. Oddershede, J. (2009). Danish Universities – a sector in change. Copenhagen: Universities Denmark. Downloaded 31.01.2015 from: http://dkuni.dk/English/~/media/Files/Publikationer/A%20sector%20in%20change.ashx
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