Two of our keynote speakers are tackling the thorny issue of management, particularly in relation to issues of management within a mass higher education system.
Mike Shattock's presentation is called 'Managing the University in an Age of Austerity'. He will suggest that: "Increasing pressures on public expenditure will raise significant policy issues in relation to the priorities, organisational structures, funding arrangements and the management of higher education systems." In other words, when money becomes tight, it's time to change some practices.
Mary Evans, in her presentation entitled "Managing the Mind: contemporary universities and the management of knowledge", will be concerned with the ways in which European universities have responded to the political agenda of mass higher education. She will consider "whether or not the effect of 'managing' universities is to decrease all desirable functions of universities: those of education, skills and creativity."
I don't want to reduce what will undoubtedly be complex arguments from these two speakers into a polarized debate, but it does sometimes feel that those within universities are either 'for' or 'against' the influx of the managers/administrators/bureaucrats. Are we living in an age in which the public purse can not be expected to fully fund mass higher education systems, in which case issues of management become crucial for universities? Or have we ushered in a thoughtless, bureaucratic style to the running of higher education institutions, and in doing so lost sight of the distinct contribution to society that universities make?
I'm painting a simplistic picture here, so I'm looking forward to continuing the discussions at the Symposium.