Higher Education in the 21st Century – Diversity of Missions: Abstract by Frank McMahon

 

Universities Surviving Diversity of Mission

Frank McMahon, Director of Academic Affairs, DIT

This paper reviews the extent to which the mission of universities has changed and how a multiplicity of objectives has emerged. It traces the origin of the sources of pressure for change in objectives and concludes that industry, governments and pan-national organisations all contribute to the development of new objectives.
The dependency of universities on external funding makes it impossible for universities to refuse to accept objectives set by governments or other funding agencies. Both the multiplicity of objectives and their inconsistency cause difficulties for universities that attempt to achieve them.
This paper argues that globalisation trends in higher education are adding to the problems facing university leaders. A possible solution could be found in agreement on a value system that transcends changing objectives and it proposes such a value system based on twin commitments to excellence and the pre-eminence of student welfare.