CODESRIA Higher Education Policy Initiative (HEPI) / Institute on the Role of 
Middle-level academics in University leadership

Call for Proposals
Deadline: 15th September 2017

The Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa 
(CODESRIA), with support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York is 
implementing a new Higher Education Policy Initiative (HEPI). The initiative 
aims at engaging academics and stakeholders in higher education in Africa on 
issues and policy directions that can secure greater autonomy for the 
institutions and, deepen cultures of accountability and oversight and 
contribute to ensuring the institutions focus on their academic roles.

Middle level academics refer to a cadre of academics who are not directly 
involved in senior university management and leadership roles but play an 
important role in the design and coordination of academic programmes and 
teaching at the departmental and faculty levels. The categories of academics 
here will include those with doctoral level qualifications and therefore 
expected to provide academic guidance and mentorship, faculty deans and heads 
of departments, officials of academic unions and course coordinators. Some of 
these academics perform administrative functions as a result of being appointed 
and/or elected and therefore serve in both academic and administrative roles. 
The cadre therefore remains vital in determining the academic orientation and 
administrative culture of their institutions. Institutions however, often lack 
formal structures and processes of inducting this cadre to their academic and 
administrative roles. Traditionally, structures and routines that existed in 
the institutions provided for informal integration of young academics into 
higher academic and administrative roles. The structures operated on the 
premise that, in the context of shared governance, it was the responsibility of 
academics to lead in matters academic and the administrative aspects to support 
the broader academic mission. This ensured some form of smooth transition 
regarding who would be considered for academic and administrative leadership 
based mainly on academic seniority, provided for the exercise of the academics’ 
role in academic decisions, ensured the protection of legitimate faculty 
aspirations, facilitated the implementation and preservation of academic 
standards, and promoted the academic welfare of students.

Higher Education in the continent seems to have overcome much of the crisis it 
faced in the 1980s and 1990s, and growth in the number of institutions and 
enrolments is evident. But the crisis eroded most of the structures such as 
strong doctoral and post-doctoral programmes, faculty academic and 
administrative cultures and a strong professorial cadre to provide mentorship 
and regenerate a new generation of university leaders. This has on the other 
hand resulted to scarcity in leadership and governance skills in most 
institutions. Junior academics on staff development often head departments and 
schools with limited understanding on the nature of academic leadership 
required of them.

Studies on the governance of higher education institutions in the continent 
have tended to focus on works of governing councils, Management 
(vice-chancellor and deputies), and the intermediary role played by ministries 
of education. Even then, these studies have examined leadership in the context 
of expanding enrolments and capacity to generate extra financial revenues and 
innovations in institutional leadership are often captured in terms of 
designing academic programs that attract fee-paying students as an end. 
Literature has, for example, documented the ‘capture’ of middle level academics 
away from their academic missions and their emergence as an extension of the 
university administrative bureaucracy, and a concentration on revenue 
generating activities at the expense of academic engagements.

Missing from the studies is inadequate acknowledgement of the role that 
academics that do not hold management roles play in the day-to-day leadership 
of the institutions and especially in shaping the orientation of academic 
programs. Faculty members serve in governance organs such as faculty boards and 
senate, which besides being advisory organs for management also act as 
recruiting grounds for future institutional leadership. Understanding how 
faculty members participate in leadership processes, how they engage and are 
engaged in several aspects of university leadership will contribute to an 
overall understanding of the processes through which academic and institutional 
leadership evolves in African universities. The concern is that with expanding 
institutions and academic programmes, universities need strong academic and 
administrative leadership at the middle levels to shape their academic 
missions. Engagement with middle level academics will certainly contribute to a 
deeper understanding of how academic programmes are designed and managed, and 
how leadership is organized and exercised. It will also expand the channels 
that the university leadership create for faculties and departments to 
participate in institutional governance processes.

The purpose of the proposed institute is to provide middle level academics with 
the platform to engage and deepen academic understanding of emerging cultures 
in the institutions through which academic and administrative leadership are 
nurtured. Proposals submitted under this call are expected to be theoretically 
grounded in the area of higher education leadership and governance, engage with 
literature on higher education governance transformations in Africa, especially 
in the post-1990s and show an awareness of current debates in higher education 
leadership in Africa and the place of leadership in building strong academic 
institutions. This call targets academics and institutions in six Sub-Saharan 
African countries: Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and South Africa.

Proposals should be no more than 10 pages, typed on 1.5 New Times Roman margins 
and should be electronically submitted with the candidate’s CV enclosed and a 
covering letter indicating the applicants’ institutional affiliation and 
academic/administrative responsibilities.

The deadline for submission of proposals is 15th September 2017

Please send complete proposals as electronic files to the following address:

Higher Education Policy Initiative (HEPI)
BP 3304, Dakar,
18524, Se´ne´gal
Te´l. (221) 33 825 98 21/22/23

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