Heads of University Management & Administration Network Europe

Study Visit - Ghent University, May 7 to 9, 2017

Strategic leadership at the Ghent University: Leadership and management re-configuration between faculties and central management

Hosted by Ghent University

Universities like all complex, creative organisations continually struggle with the challenge of configuring their leadership and management to be consistent not only with their enduring missions, but also their academic strategies. 

Systemic strategic change in universities is rarely successful unless the academic operating units of faculties, schools and departments are bought into the process.  On the other hand, truly directional change requires a degree of centrally managed consistency, risk management and timeliness which can often manifest as faculties feeling disempowered. 

The issues for professional services staff working in services departments are often very similar as for faculties.

Ghent University has recently been through a process of reconfiguration, dealing systemically with issues including strategy and planning, education quality management and academic career path management and development. 

The study visit will be an intensive one-and-a-half-day engagement, with informal networking opportunities and plenty of opportunity for participative group work and discussion. 


Session I: Background and context for the study visit to Ghent

  • European and regional policy landscape: external drivers for change and the policy context
  • The Ghent response to this shift in context
  • Integration into the Ghent’s strategic thinking and plan

Session 2: rethinking the way strategic & operational planning is owned at Ghent

  • The Ghent SWOT assoicated with the previous practices
  • Implementation of a new strategic planning modus operandi: the process of achieving change and how it was led
  • The new arrangement: what’s working well and remaing challenges 

Session 3: reconfiguring quality assurance systems, processes and accountabilities: a central management perspective

  • The regional quality assurance system: objectives, key processes and new challenges
  • The Ghent response: scale of the changes made to ensure compliance with new systems and processes
  • Lessons learned to date 

Session 4: academic career path management and development: recent changes in strategy and direction at Ghent

  • Strategic objectives
  • Enablers for change
  • Constraints and challenges

Both study visits involve a significant amount of informal interaction between the hosts and the participants. The programmes are designed to allow participants to learn about the hosts’ lessons learned as well as their successes; and for the hosts to learn from participants, particularly during the structured feedback sessions.  

Final Study Visit Schedule

Sunday 7 May:

19:30 Dinner and Study Visit briefing

Monday 8 May:

08:45 - 17:00 Study Visit Sessions

19:30 Study Visit Dinner

Tuesday 9 May

08:45 - 12:00 Study Visit Sessions

12:00 closure and lunch