During the inaugural search conference for the project ‘European Universities - Critical Futures’, we heard stories pointing to tensions between academics and administration. These are echoed in recent literature (see Amelia Veiga's research on the erosion of academic power in Portuguese universities).
With this initiative we are trying to understand how the positions held by faculty and administrators in the university ecosystem have changed, and why this change has happened. Have these changes led to shifts in who effectively runs the institution?
In particular, we are focusing on how the introduction of new technologies for managing, marketing and ranking universities has led to a growth in administrative tasks for both academics and administrators. By new technologies, we are referring to, for example, research evaluation mechanisms, student management platforms (VLEs), marketisation (e.g. commercial conference management); education evaluation systems; competitive research funding.
Each of these technologies has to be administered, often by a new kind of professional administrator who has to forge new, or revise old, relationships with academics, whose own sense of professionalism may be affected in the process.
Our aim is to collect case studies to explore new relations between academics and administrators and in particular to find examples where personal, professional or systematic ways of developing productive working relations have been found or where tensions had been resolved.
We are therefore looking for colleagues interested in investigating a case study in their institutions with the understanding that these case studies will be analysed to see whether any systematic patterns emerge about an evolving power dynamic in European universities.