CODESRIA Higher Education Policy Initiative (HEPI) / Institute on the Role of Middle-level academics in University leadership
Call for Proposals
Deadline: 15th September 2017
The Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA), with support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York is implementing a new Higher Education Policy Initiative (HEPI). The initiative aims at engaging academics and stakeholders in higher education in Africa on issues and policy directions that can secure greater autonomy for the institutions and, deepen cultures of accountability and oversight and contribute to ensuring the institutions focus on their academic roles.
Middle level academics refer to a cadre of academics who are not directly involved in senior university management and leadership roles but play an important role in the design and coordination of academic programmes and teaching at the departmental and faculty levels. The categories of academics here will include those with doctoral level qualifications and therefore expected to provide academic guidance and mentorship, faculty deans and heads of departments, officials of academic unions and course coordinators. Some of these academics perform administrative functions as a result of being appointed and/or elected and therefore serve in both academic and administrative roles. The cadre therefore remains vital in determining the academic orientation and administrative culture of their institutions. Institutions however, often lack formal structures and processes of inducting this cadre to their academic and administrative roles. Traditionally, structures and routines that existed in the institutions provided for informal integration of young academics into higher academic and administrative roles. The structures operated on the premise that, in the context of shared governance, it was the responsibility of academics to lead in matters academic and the administrative aspects to support the broader academic mission. This ensured some form of smooth transition regarding who would be considered for academic and administrative leadership based mainly on academic seniority, provided for the exercise of the academics’ role in academic decisions, ensured the protection of legitimate faculty aspirations, facilitated the implementation and preservation of academic standards, and promoted the academic welfare of students.
Higher Education in the continent seems to have overcome much of the crisis it faced in the 1980s and 1990s, and growth in the number of institutions and enrolments is evident. But the crisis eroded most of the structures such as strong doctoral and post-doctoral programmes, faculty academic and administrative cultures and a strong professorial cadre to provide mentorship and regenerate a new generation of university leaders. This has on the other hand resulted to scarcity in leadership and governance skills in most institutions. Junior academics on staff development often head departments and schools with limited understanding on the nature of academic leadership required of them.
Studies on the governance of higher education institutions in the continent have tended to focus on works of governing councils, Management (vice-chancellor and deputies), and the intermediary role played by ministries of education. Even then, these studies have examined leadership in the context of expanding enrolments and capacity to generate extra financial revenues and innovations in institutional leadership are often captured in terms of designing academic programs that attract fee-paying students as an end. Literature has, for example, documented the ‘capture’ of middle level academics away from their academic missions and their emergence as an extension of the university administrative bureaucracy, and a concentration on revenue generating activities at the expense of academic engagements.
Missing from the studies is inadequate acknowledgement of the role that academics that do not hold management roles play in the day-to-day leadership of the institutions and especially in shaping the orientation of academic programs. Faculty members serve in governance organs such as faculty boards and senate, which besides being advisory organs for management also act as recruiting grounds for future institutional leadership. Understanding how faculty members participate in leadership processes, how they engage and are engaged in several aspects of university leadership will contribute to an overall understanding of the processes through which academic and institutional leadership evolves in African universities. The concern is that with expanding institutions and academic programmes, universities need strong academic and administrative leadership at the middle levels to shape their academic missions. Engagement with middle level academics will certainly contribute to a deeper understanding of how academic programmes are designed and managed, and how leadership is organized and exercised. It will also expand the channels that the university leadership create for faculties and departments to participate in institutional governance processes.
The purpose of the proposed institute is to provide middle level academics with the platform to engage and deepen academic understanding of emerging cultures in the institutions through which academic and administrative leadership are nurtured. Proposals submitted under this call are expected to be theoretically grounded in the area of higher education leadership and governance, engage with literature on higher education governance transformations in Africa, especially in the post-1990s and show an awareness of current debates in higher education leadership in Africa and the place of leadership in building strong academic institutions. This call targets academics and institutions in six Sub-Saharan African countries: Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and South Africa.
Proposals should be no more than 10 pages, typed on 1.5 New Times Roman margins and should be electronically submitted with the candidate’s CV enclosed and a covering letter indicating the applicants’ institutional affiliation and academic/administrative responsibilities.
The deadline for submission of proposals is 15th September 2017
Please send complete proposals as electronic files to the following address: