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Universities must balance closed governance and open research

The tension between top-down management and new forms of research and teaching poses a central challenge for institutions and policymakers, says Peter Scott.

Today’s universities are large and complex organisations requiring resilient governance and management. At the same time, they are becoming more open, enrolling mass and diverse student populations. They are experimenting with new ways of delivering courses and are eager to demonstrate their research impact on society and the economy. 

A recent conference in Hannover—organised by Academia Europaea, the Volkswagen Foundation and Kassel University’s International Centre for Higher Education Research—focused on this contrast, or contradiction, between more managed systems of governance and more open systems of knowledge. Its theme was whether current forms of university governance impede or facilitate creativity.

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