Pointing to the challenges created by globalisation, such as increasing competition between higher education (HE) institutions and the rise of new HE providers, Professor Weber underlined that universities were adaptable to change and had proved this over the centuries. However, he questioned whether the ‘bottom-up’ model of university governance was capable of responding to needs of the European knowledge society and rapid environmental changes.
Professor Weber said universities needed to have a strong clear mission, adding that “no single institution could do everything well”. The challenge to improve university governance was to design systems that could take full advantage of teaching and research capacities whilst enabling the strategic conduct of an institution. Governance was also a question of strong leadership, he said, explaining that the rector or leader needed to be a visionary, a strategist and fine politician, but someone with ‘thick skin’. “European universities should improve their governance systems and have strong leadership.”
Is deze harde boodschap een beetje te zwaar aangezet vroeg Weber zich af. Nee, concludeerde hij en gaf daarvoor de volgende argumenten: “The mediocre ranking of the great majority of European universities. The emergence of new leading universities (Singapore national university, Kaist, in China, India, …..), which are competing for talents. The technological revolution which is a threat for mediocre institutions. The increasing importance of new providers and new ways of provision. The great difficulties of most European universities to revisit their missions, objectives and to implement new strategies, to develop a rigorous quality culture and to make decisions to be adequately funded and be freed from political micro-management. This is why I believe European universities should improve their governance system and have a strong leadership!” Zijn volledige presentatie vindt u hier.