22 SES 06 D, University Teachers and their Learning
Nurturing effective leaders is part and parcel of high-quality higher education systems around the world. New waves of higher education reforms request national academic systems to improve their leadership pipelines as traditional leadership development has proved to be ineffective (Kezar, 2009). Kazakhstan, on its path to gearing its national academic system towards European Higher Education Area, has recently introduced drastic changes in the legislative framework and governance structure of the higher education sector. In its effort to decentralize the governance of universities, the Ministry of Education and Science is willing to grant institutional autonomy to higher education institutions. Alongside the long-established Law ‘On Education’, the new law on granting academic and organizational autonomy is on the way. The new law will allow the Ministry to delegate its 20 competences to the management of higher education institutions. With getting the new law ratified in the near future, higher education institutions will be granted institutional autonomy and freedom to determine student admissions processes and mechanisms; develop their own academic programmes and determine the structure and content of curriculum; attract alternative revenues and income prohibited by the laws of Kazakhstan and establish new legal entities, including joint ones on the basis of public-private partnership. Another transformational change in Kazakhstan’s higher education management sector is the introduction of governing boards at universities – boards of trustees and boards of overseers – that will serve as new governance constituencies working closely with the university rector or president. Introduction of the governing boards in Kazakhstan’s HEIs is a serious ambition indicated in the Strategic Plan for Kazakhstan’s development by 2025. The governing boards of state universities now reserve a right to select and recommend candidates for the university rector’s position to the republican selection committee. Thus, consideration and selection of the candidates for the university leader’s positions is now delegated from the Ministry to the universities’ governing boards. The discussed sweeping reforms present a lot of learning opportunities and challenges to the university leaders as they transition to the new governance structures. The new developments in the higher education system will require an effective leadership pipeline. With the influx of changes, present-day university leaders are now expected to able to demonstrate capacities and different skills of leadership. Rectors are now expected to be entrepreneurial, risk-taking, internationally-minded, digitally smart and work effectively in the environment of shared governance. This is completely different from the cultural norms that were entrenched during the recent post-Soviet years of higher education governance. As Hartley et al. state, “for decades, the success of leaders has been measured by documenting compliance with Ministry directives. This is a very different means of establishing legitimacy than holding leaders accountable for the results of strategies they formulate and implement with key institutional stakeholders” (2015, p. 286). This paper captures main patterns of becoming chief academic officers in Kazakhstan’s higher education sector. The purpose of the study is to produce clear and accurate descriptions of context-bound processes and practices of becoming a university leader. It takes into account such factors as how potential leaders were identified, were they external or internal candidates for their position, in what ways they were selected and what academic backgrounds they came from (Bisbee, 2007). The study also portrays university leaders’ conceptual understandings of being a higher education leader. The paper responds to the two main research questions of the study – 1) how academic leaders are identified for the top positions? and 2) what measures for capacity building of university rectors should be considered on the national level in order to develop quality academic leadership at local campuses?
The study is based on the mixed methods research design (Tashakkori & Teddlie, 2003). This approach was selected for the purpose of capturing the complexity of becoming a chief academic officer as a phenomenon. The research design enabled the research team to arrange a national survey among university rectors and conduct in-depth interviews with the academic leaders at local universities. The quantitative and qualitative data of the study were collected in phases, i.e. sequentially (Creswell, 2017). In order to produce ‘thick description’ (Geertz, 1973) of becoming a university rector in Kazakhstan, qualitative data collection was given greater priority. With having the qualitative data collected first, the intent of the study was to explore university leaders’ understanding of their roles and the ways they have transitioned to the top academic officer’s positions. The research team held 12 in-depth interviews with university leaders. Transcripts of the interviews were coded with the help of computer-aided qualitative data analysis software ‘NVivo’. Thematic analysis (Auerbach & Silverstein, 2003) of the qualitative data was used in order to reveal main themes and categories related to the processes of becoming a university rector. The study also contains findings based on the document analysis as the researchers explored profiles of the universities’ top managers. In the second phase of the study, the quantitative survey data was collected from 45 university rectors capturing details that required expansion of our understanding of the issues under study. All the data were anonymous and were stripped of direct and indirect identifiers in the process of data analysis.
Results of the study suggest that the sweeping reforms in the system of higher education governance and management has had a strong impact on potential leaders’ pathways becoming and transitioning to the position of university rectors in the higher education community of Kazakhstan. Most academic leaders were internal candidates for their positions of rectors. Most research participants indicated that they would be keen on developing their academic leadership but expressed concerns about the lack of time as it was mostly spent on financial management. Nevertheless, 42% of university leaders expressed interest in fundraising and see it as a valuable skill in the set of their professional competences. University leaders emphasized that the introduction of university autonomy has served as the main booster on their personal motivation to become a more effective leader. Around 53% of university rectors indicated the strong need in their further professional development and that it is due to the introduction of shared governance on their campuses.
Auerbach, C., & Silverstein, L. B. (2003). Qualitative data: An introduction to coding and analysis. NYU press. Bisbee, D. C. (2007). Looking for leaders: Current practices in leadership identification in higher education. Planning and Changing, 38(1/2), 77. Creswell, J. W., & Creswell, J. D. (2017). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches. Sage publications. Geertz, C. (1973) The Interpretation of Cultures. New York: Basic Books. Hartley, M., Gopaul, B., Sagintayeva, A., & Apergenova, R. (2016). Learning autonomy: higher education reform in Kazakhstan. Higher Education, 72(3), 277-289. Kezar, A. (Ed.). (2009). Rethinking leadership in a complex, multicultural, and global environment: new concepts and models for higher education. Sterling, Virginia, US: Stylus Publishing. Teddlie, C., & Tashakkori, A. (2003). Major issues and controveries inthe use of mixed methods in the social and behvioral sciences. Handbook of mixed methods in social & behavioral research, 3-50.
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
Network 2. Vocational Education and Training (VETNET)
Network 3. Curriculum Innovation
Network 4. Inclusive Education
Network 5. Children and Youth at Risk and Urban Education
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Network 12. LISnet - Library and Information Science Network
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Network 15. Research Partnerships in Education
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Network 20. Research in Innovative Intercultural Learning Environments
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Network 23. Policy Studies and Politics of Education
Network 24. Mathematics Education Research
Network 25. Research on Children's Rights in Education
Network 26. Educational Leadership
Network 27. Didactics – Learning and Teaching
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