Governance of Open Universities: A Few Observations on Trends in Asia
Like all organisations, good governance is a fundamental requirement for the responsible and accountable management of universities in general and open universities in particular. This is to ensure that these (open) universities remain relevant to their mission of facilitating unfettered access to higher education for citizens and at the same time continue being reliable contributors to personal and institutional developments, the vital ingredients to maintaining sustained national development. While several studies have, in the past, been conducted on governance of universities, almost all of them have centred around conventional, face-to-face institutions. Not much published literature is in evidence on the governance of Open Universities. This paper, drawing from a study on the governance of a few open universities in Asia, tries to discuss the nature of their challenges, and the lessons that can be drawn from their practices and experience. The study focused on aspects relating to institutional autonomies such as curriculum, budgeting and financial management, admission standards, conferment of qualifications, academic staff appointments, development and promotions and research policies. Our findings indicate that, similar to conventional systems, the state plays a crucial role in many aspects of governance both in publicly funded and privately supported institutions. Recent attempts at governance transformation towards greater institutional autonomies is beginning to show limited changes in some but not all jurisdictions studied.