Future Skills of Higher Education Managers

September 9, 2020

Kolo, Castulus & Masur, Ute & Emre, Merle & Kreulich, Klaus. (2022). Workshop Notes -From Future Skills in Higher Education to the Future Skills of Higher Education Managers. 10.56843/msr002.

From Future Skills in Higher Education to the Future Skills of Higher Education Managers Honoring of business skills, understanding of business models for universities is important.

Academic self-governance thereby shall be combined with education industry leadership. With respect to this more agility with organizational standards is needed, change management skills as well as an entrepreneurial mind set. Today these capabilities should become also effective online, in virtual and remote contexts which requires particular emotional intelligence.

Another important skill set refers to risk management as Higher Education institutions incur quite peculiar risks (in addition to general risks of other institutions). Systematic identification, monitoring, and mitigation of risks will possibly even more important in post-pandemic times. Which prior professional experience is beneficial to excel in such responsibilities?

Leaders in Higher Education management today have different backgrounds and an increasing number has not been trained through an extensive academic career. Ideally. Some Higher Education managers have already proven to be networkers between academia or/and industry. However, a pure industry manager who has no academic experience risks not to be respected by the faculty (but lack of academic experience may be compensated by other capabilities). In the latter case, an effective HE management could be hampered. So, an academic profile seems to be beneficial– however, not necessarily a key requirement.

Generally, experiences with flattened, yet highly differentiated organizational structures are an advantage, as are experiences from highly diverse and inclusive organizations.  What kind of teaching modules/course for education HE managers follow? As HE leaders are very busy people, a dedicated executive MBA should be delivered as a linear one year long, fulltime program. It rather should be broken down into micro credentials that offer very focused knowledge and skills. Such a course should not be delivered just isolated within the higher education sector. It rather should have intersections with leaders from other industries to have a dialog across sectors. Such a program also needs another understanding of education that formerly was interpreted by most as very much a supply driven endeavour. This view needs to be replaced or at least complemented by a demand driven understanding. Universities need to develop “listening skills” (i.e. systematically monitoring and actively scanning their institutional/business environment).

An executive study program for university leaders should address the specific skills and needs of this group of people. An integral part of such a program needs to be the understanding of the educational demands of students; bearing in mind that we are talking not only about the 18- to 24-year-olds, but about people from all generations.

Generally, courses should contain experiences on the job. An executive level course on HE management should not just be delivered in isolation within the higher education sector. It should have intersections with leaders from industry in order to have a dialog across sectors and learn from practices.

A study program could additionally include with regards to understanding the educational demands, exposure to students in the form of focus groups from future students and existing students to have that engagement with the key stakeholders.

An international approach is very important and should be substantial asset for such a training programme (integrating as much diversity as possibly also on the basis of online courses). It might also be interesting if leaders/ managers of a university will get the chance to set off  for a short-term sabbatical, i.e. one month to concentrate on such a programme.

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