chapter  1
31 Pages

Knowing your environment

WithPeter McCaffery

A prerequisite of effective management is an awareness of one’s external environment. This first chapter then examines the broader context or nature of the external environment in which universities and individual managers alike have to operate. It explains as a means of understanding the pressures on modern universities – and the reasons why they respond the way they do – how universities have come to be where they are today and the differences between traditional 20th-century higher education and the new HE of the 20th century.

The chapter includes an analysis of the role of HE and of the key influences or change drivers – globalisation, IT, the Knowledge Society, the contractual state (or government penchant for efficiency gains, ‘initiativitis’, a differentiated HE system and greater institutional accountability), academic specialisation and postmodernism – currently affecting universities.

It also examines the nature of the university identity crisis (the absence of a commanding model of the university for the first time in the institution’s long history), the university as ‘an idea’, the case for universities (over and above the practical one of the universities’ contribution to the national economy) and the key strategic challenges facing universities in today’s new HE environment.