Translating institutional objectives into action

Date01 March 1999
Published date01 March 1999
AuthorGeorge Gordon
Subject MatterEducation
Almost ten years ago, the incoming Vice-
Chancellor of a Scottish university expressed
surprise that institutions did not collaborate
on faculty/staff/educational development and
that much of the then current activities
seemed to lack a clear strategic focus. Since
then, greater collaboration has been achieved,
both in the UK and in other countries and
various bodies and organisations[1] have
contributed significantly to that trend.
Indeed, in recent years, the various Funding
Councils in the UK have promoted, jointly
and separately, collaborative ventures through
initiatives such as the Teaching and Learning
Technology Programme (TLTP), the Fund
for the Development of Teaching and Learn-
ing (FDTL), the Strategic Change Initiative
and the Contract Research Staff Initiative.
The endeavours of the Funding Councils
have sharpened the strategic focus, a trend re-
inforced within institutions as they respond to
external imperatives such as the quality
assessment of teaching programmes or the
evaluation of research. In essence, the overall
climate of accountability which has impacted
upon almost every system of higher educa-
tion, albeit in differing ways and to varying
degrees, has contributed to the changing
context within which decisions are made
within institutions. Whilst many academics
may dislike the terminology, they now
demand arguments for, and preferably evi-
dence of, value for money in the allocation of
resources within institutions. Accountability
not only poses questions about economy and
efficiency but also of the effectiveness of the
various endeavours supported by external
These changes have been questioned,
although not as vigorously as some might
wish. For example, writing in a recent
Research Newsletter of the Royal Geographical
Society, Butlin (1998), the Vice-President,
When are individuals and national learned
societies going to fight back, with informed
criticism that is an essential part of academic
Butlin is Principal of a small college. He is
particularly concerned that, in the UK, small
institutions and individual scholars will be
starved of research funding if the present
policies of selectivity are maintained.
Quality Assurance in Education
Volume 7 · Number 1· 1999 · pp. 6–13
© MCB University Press · ISSN 0968-4883
institutional objectives
into action
George Gordon
The author
George Gordon is Professor and Director of the Centre
for Academic Practice at the University of Strathclyde,
Glasgow, UK.
Alignment, Higher Education, United Kingdom
In higher education, translating institutional objectives
into meaningful action is a challenging task, particularly
given the currency attached to analogies such as the view
that managing academics is akin to herding cats, or that
teaching in HE is one of the last cottage industries. Yet
alignment is becoming increasingly important, as the
reports of national inquiries and commissions (e.g.
Dearing, West, Boyer) and the pronouncements and plans
of governments indicate. The paper examines one illustra-
tion of steps that an institution has taken to translate
objectives into action.

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT