A study into the status of corporate governance practices of Universities in Australia
Australian universities have widely adopted corporate governance (CG) since the last three decades. Several reports, government regulations and laws supported their implementation. Private sector business models were adopted by these universities. Profit motive diluted the original goals of these universities. Universities became private corporates as funds were cut by the government leading them to be self-reliant. Universities turned to international students’ market. This led to adoption of marketing principles like branding and promotions to obtain competitive advantage over Australian and international universities. International students became cash cows due to the revenue from them becoming a major source of income for universities. Everything looked nice with many Australian universities achieving top ranks in international ranking. As covid-19 struck, this business model broke down exposing the vulnerability of these universities to risks of various types. Evaluations on academic, research and teaching performances returned low scores and even financial performance suffered due to campus closures and students returning home during the covid-19 period. Universities tried cost cut measures mainly affecting the academic and research side.
Online courses with large class sizes increased the workload of teachers and disturbed their work-life balance. Academic staff and students were uncomfortable with new norms purely based on economics, as everything was measured on financial terms. Anxiety and fear of job loss forced silence on the part of academic staff. All these affected the quality of education in these universities.
Most reviewed papers argue for a review of what has been happening with CG in universities and a return to the original three goals of universities in Australia. However, such a return may not be favoured by the policy and decision makers.
Keywords: Corporate governance, Australian universities, education sector, review