Managerialism and higher education governance: Implications for South African universities?

  • F Adams Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa


This article identifies some of the implications of corporate forms of higher education governance for the management of South African universities. It explores corporate higher educational governance with reference to institutional autonomy incorporating academic freedom. It is the contention of this article that the primary driver of higher educational governance seems to be economic rationalism underpinned by a conception of corporatisation. This ideal is rooted in, and influenced by, a neo-liberal interpretation of globalisation with a strong preference tendency towards managerialism. Such managerialism claims to improve efficiency and effectiveness via financial accountability, quality assurance and performance evaluation, notions that have become increasingly popular in the governance model of South African universities. These managerialist ideals, embedded in a neo-liberal conception of globalisation, have specific implications for higher education governance in the sense that they have the potential to limit or erode academic autonomy and freedom because managerialism thrives in situations of `control'. Such control it is argued, militates against academic autonomy and freedom. The article/s argue that a more defensible form of higher education governance can be achieved when governance in such institutions is enacted along the lines of what it means to be a community in an African humanist sense.

South African Journal of Higher Education Vol. 20(1) 2006: 3-14

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eISSN: 1011-3487