What makes a university effective?
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The effective university at the turn of the twenty-first century will be the university that can manage change. The last twenty years have seen a revolution in higher education in Australia, the UK, New Zealand, and much of Asia. There have been changes beyond the wildest imaginings of academics and students fifty or even twenty years ago. Everyone who works in a university knows just how troublesome these days are. There is no prospect of them becoming any easier in our lifetimes. Universities face a future of relentless variation in a more austere climate. To succeed in this environment, an effective university will need a second key attribute to set beside its capacity to handle change. It will require a clear grasp of 'the primary functions which universities should perform in the service of a nation'; for as Whitehead also said, 'The proper function of a university is the imaginative acquisition of knowledge'. I take this to mean that it will need to produce, in all its endeavours, the qualities of excellence. The question I would now like to address is this: what is needed to make a university both accomplished at handling change, and capable of producing excellence? My answers will be framed by the idea that 'effectiveness', like a precious stone, has many facets.
Griffith Institute for Higher Education
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