The Growing accountability agenda: progress or mixed blessing?
In the past decade, accountability has become a major concern in most parts of the world. Governments, parliaments and society at large are increasingly asking universities to justify the use of public resources and account more thoroughly for their teaching and research results. Is this a favorable development for tertiary education? Or is there too much accountability, at the risk of stifling initiative among university leaders? This article analyzes the main dimensions of the growing accountability agenda, examines some of the negative and positive consequences of this evolution, and proposes a few guiding principles for achieving a balanced approach to accountability in tertiary education. It observes that the universal push for increased accountability has made the role of university leaders much more demanding, transforming the competencies expected of them and the ensuing capacity building needs of university management teams. It concludes by observing that accountability is meaningful only to the extent that tertiary education institutions are actually empowered to operate in an autonomous and responsible way.