Schools Training

Are scholars or executives best suited to lead universities?

16 JAN 2014

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A firm of headhunters has questioned whether academics “are the right leaders of tomorrow” for universities, suggesting higher education leaders may need skills “most effectively honed in the business world”.

In a paper titled “21st century academic leadership: from the lecture hall or the boardroom?”, executive recruiter Odgers Berndtson asks whether a “new kind of leadership” is needed to respond to trends such as the globalisation of higher education, government funding cuts and the growth of online learning.

“Are the academics who have traditionally led universities the right leaders of tomorrow? Hasn’t the required skillset broadened?” the paper, which the firm plans to publish online, asks.

It continues that although “there’s no reason academics can’t be just as entrepreneurial…as those running FTSE 100 companies”, university leaders “increasingly need a wider range of skills that are often most effectively (albeit not exclusively) honed in the business world”.

It adds: “Many of the challenges facing universities are the same as those facing the commercial world – greater competition for talent and customers, intensified by operating in a global marketplace with fast-moving technology – so it makes sense that leadership forged in business should translate into a university context.”


Read full article: Times Higher Education