Category Archives: Research

New grant to research co-operative leadership for higher education

RiCES members, Prof. Mike Neary and Dr. Joss Winn have been awarded a grant from the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education to study co-operative leadership. Below, are the project aims, take from the project website:

The aim of this research is to explore the possibility of establishing co-operative leadership as a viable organisational form of governance and management for Higher Education. Co-operative leadership is already well established in business enterprises in the UK and around the world (Ridley-Duff and Bull 2016), and has recently been adopted as the organising principle by over 800 schools in the United Kingdom (Wilson 2014). The co-operative movement is a global phenomenon with one billion members, supported by national and international organisations working to establish co-operative enterprises and the promotion of cooperative education. The research is financed by the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education’s small development projects fund.

Higher education in the UK is characterised by a mode of governance based on Vice-Chancellors operating as Chief Executives supported by Senior Management teams.  Recent research from the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education on Neo-collegiality in the managerial university (Bacon 2014) shows that hierarchical models of governance alienate and de-motivate staff, failing to take advantage of research-based problem solving skills of staff operating at all levels,  not accounting for the advantages to organisations when self-managed professionals interact with peers on matters of common purpose, particularly in knowledge-based industries.

The co-operative leadership model for higher education supports the ambition for more active engagement in decision-making to facilitate the best use of academics’ professional capacities, but framed around a more radical model for leadership, governance and management. Members of the co-operative university would not only be involved directly in decision-making and peer-based processes that make best use of their collective skills, but have equal voting rights as well as collective ownership of the assets and liabilities of the co-operative (Cook 2013). This more radical model builds on work done recently as part of a project funded by the Independent Social Research Foundation to establish some general parameters around which a framework for co-operative higher education could be established (Neary and Winn 2015). One of the key issues emerging from this research is the significance of co-operative leadership – the focus of this research project.

Read more…

New research on the state of academic freedom in Europe and Africa


Last month, University of Lincoln Marie Curie fellows Dr. Kwadwo Appiagyei-Atua and Dr. Klaus Beiter (both working with Professor Terence Karran) presented papers at the EU-funded UNIKE conference: Universities in the knowledge economy: Perspectives from the Asia-Pacific and Europe. Their panel focused on the state and politics of academic freedom in higher education in Europe and Africa, and in this context they presented initial conclusions from their respective research projects in the field.

Joss Winn and Sarah Amsler also presented their work on co-operative and alternative education in the ‘Alternative Ways of Thinking the University’ stream at this conference; read his blog on labour, property and pedagogy in co-operative education and her paper on popular higher education here.

Assessing reform and innovation in African universities against recent trends in respect for academic freedom (Kwadwo Appiagyei-Atua)

African universities and intellectuals, from the time of independence, have faced significant violations of academic freedom. With the return to democracy in the era of globalisation, African states have undertaken some major reforms to enable the university to meet the demands and concerns of the 21st century. The paper revealed, however, that the reform process is externally driven and in most cases that autonomy is granted in name only as governments have, in actual fact, not left the universities. Relying on data I have gathered over the past year as a Marie Curie Fellow working on a project on ‘Building Academic Freedom and Democracy in Africa,’ the paper reviews the level of respect for the four elements of academic freedom recognised in the 1997 UNESCO/ILO Recommendation Concerning the Status of Higher Education Teaching Personnel: individual freedoms, institutional autonomy, self-governance and tenure.  It also analyses the violations recorded in a legal context to determine the culpability of African states under international law. The conclusion is that academic freedom is not properly positioned within the African university to enable it to  act as a driver and facilitator of higher education reform efforts.
Read the full abstract.

“Measuring” academic freedom as an international human right: an assessment of the legal protection of the right to academic freedom in Europe (Klaus D. Beiter)

Academic freedom is generally recognised as a human right, both at the national and the international level. Focusing on Europe, specifically those countries that are members of the European Union, it may be observed that Academic freedom is generally recognised as a human right, both at the national and the international level. Focusing on Europe, specifically those countries that are members of the European Union, it may be observed that the right to academic freedom often has a basis in the constitutions and laws on higher education of these countries. The countries concerned are also bound under international human rights agreements, such as the International Covenants on Civil and Political and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of 1966, respectively, or the European Convention on Human Rights of 1950, As will be shown in this article, on closer analysis – assessing merely the legal protection in EU Member States, an examination of the factual situation to be undertaken at a later stage – it appears, however, that increasingly merely lip-service is being paid to this important right. The results for different European countries have been quantified and the countries ranked in accordance with “their performance”. The assessment facilitates drawing conclusions as to the state of health of the legal protection of the right to academic freedom in Europe.
Read the full abstract.

Participate in the Academic Freedom Survey