Understanding the governance dynamics of a supranational university: The African pioneering model

  • Lazarus Nabaho Uganda Management Institute
  • Wilberforce Turyasingura Uganda Management Institute
  • Jessica Norah Aguti Makerere University
  • Felix Adiburu Andama Uganda Management Institute
Keywords: governance, university, supranational, organs, functions, Pan African University


Since the 1990s, university governance has attracted the attention of scholars. However, most of the extant studies focus on the governance of national-level universities and use national regulatory frameworks. Therefore, there is a dearth of studies that hinge on the governance of supranational higher education institutions, such as the Pan African University (PAU), with the aid of regional regulatory frameworks. Consequently, little is known about the governance architecture of supranational universities, which are a post-2010 phenomenon. In view of the above, the article answers the following question: How is the Pan African University governed within a multi-layer environment? Using an interpretive lens, data was collected from the Revised Statute of the Pan African University, 2016. Content analysis was used to analyse the resultant data. The findings revealed that observance of the values of higher education, adoption of the steering-at-a-distance university governance model by the African Union Commission and of the shared governance arrangement, and merit-based selection of staff are the hallmarks of the PAU governance architecture. The governance model of the PAU resonates with the governance architecture of country-level universities in form rather than in substance. The notable variations in the substance include the partial adoption of the philosophy of ‘letting the managers manage’, the existence of multi-governance layers, lay domination of the University Senate, the presence of ‘universities’ in PAU governance arrangement, the existence of a ‘quasi-governance’ organ with external representation at the level of the Institute, and the continental outlook of the PAU Council. Therefore, it can be concluded that the missions of the universities and their context shape universities’ governance architecture.

Received: 04 May 2020
Accepted: 29 July 2020

Author Biographies

Lazarus Nabaho, Uganda Management Institute

Senior Lecturer and the Head of the Department of Government Studies at Uganda Management Institute. He holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Education Management of Makerere University, Uganda. His research interests include quality assurance in higher education, higher education governance, and teaching and learning in higher education. Nabaho is the Chief Editor of The Ugandan Journal of Management and Public Policy Studies (UJMPPS), a reviewer of several academic journals, and an external examiner at several universities. Mail: lnabaho@umi.ac.ug

Wilberforce Turyasingura, Uganda Management Institute

Dean of the School of Business and Management at Uganda Management Institute. He holds a PhD in Management from Wits University, South Africa. His research interests include knowledge management, performance management, strategic management, and human resource development. Mail: wturyasingura@umi.ac.ug

Jessica Norah Aguti, Makerere University

Associate Professor in the Institute of Open, Distance & e Learning, Makerere University but was recently on secondment at the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) as an Education Specialist, Teacher Education. She hold a PhD in Curriculum Instruction and Teaching of the University of Pretoria, South Africa. Her research areas are open and distance (e) learning, curriculum, teaching and learning, and quality assurance in higher education. She has been teaching at Makerere University for the last 27 years. Mail: aguti@cees.mak.ac.ug

Felix Adiburu Andama, Uganda Management Institute

Consultant in Government Studies at Uganda Management Institute. He holds a PhD in Governance and Public Sector Management of North West University, South Africa. His research areas are decentralisation and local governance, public policy, and governance. Felix has been teaching at Uganda Management Institute since 2008. Mail: fandama@umi.ac.ug


African Union Commission. Second Decade of Education for Africa (2006-2015) Plan. Addis Ababa: AUC, 2006.

African Union Commission. Agenda 2063: First Ten-Year Implementation Plan 2014–2023. Addis Ababa: AUC, 2015.

African Union Commission. Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want. Addis Ababa: AUC, 2015.

African Union Commission. Revised Statute of the Pan African University. Addis Ababa: AUC, 2016.

Birnbaum, Robert. “The end of shared governance: Looking ahead or looking back.” New Directions for Higher Education 127(2004):1-22.

Bleiklie, Ivar. “Collegiality and hierarchy: Coordinating principles in higher education,” in The global university: Past, present and future perspectives, edited by A. R. Nelson & I. P. Wei, 85-104 (New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012).

Donina, Davide, and Sandra Hasanefendic. “Higher education institutional governance reforms in the Netherlands, Portugal and Italy: A policy translation perspective addressing the homogeneous/heterogeneous dilemma.” Higher Education Quarterly 73 (2019): 29-44. https://doi.org/10.1111/hequ.12183.

Duderstadt, J. James. “Governing the twenty-first century university: A view from the bridge.” (2002). Retrieved April 1, 2020 from milproj.ummu. umich.edu/ publications/view_from_bridge/.../view_from_bridge.pdf .

Hénard, Fabrice, and Alexander Mitterle. Governing and quality guidelines in higher education: A review of governance arrangements and quality assurance guidelines. Paris: OECD, 2009.

Gornitzka, Åse, Peter Maassen, and Harry de Boer. “Change in university governance structures in continental Europe. “Higher Education Quarterly 71(2017): 274- 89. https://doi.org/10.1111/hequ.12127.

Jessop, Bob. “The rise of governance and the risks of failure: The case of economic development.” International Social Science Journal 155 (1998):29-45. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/1468-2451.00107.

Harman, Kay, and Elaine Treadgold. “Changing patterns of governance for Australian universities.” Higher Education Research & Development 26, no.1 (2007): 13- 29. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/07294360601166786.

Kennedy, Kerry J. “Higher Education governance as a key policy issue in the 21st century.” Educational Research for Policy and Practice 2, no.1 (2003): 55-67. https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1024468018883.

Krippendorff, Klaus. Content analysis: An introduction to its methodology. 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks: Sage, 2004.

Lokuwaduge, Chitra, and Anona Armstrong. “The impact of governance on the performance of the higher education sector in Australia.” Education Management, Administration and Leadership 43, no.5 (2014): 811-27. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1741143214535740.

Marginson, Simon, and Mark Considine. The enterprise university. Melbourne: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

Moodie, Graeme, and Rowland Eustace B. Power and authority in British universities. London: Allen and Unwin, 1974.

Nabaho, Lazarus. “Shared governance in public universities in Uganda: Current concerns and directions for reform.” International Journal of African Higher Education 5, no.1 (2019): 45-65. https://doi.org/10.6017/ijahe.v5i1.10962.

Nabaho, Lazarus, Wilberforce Turyasingura, Alfred K. Kiiza, Felix Andama, and Adrian Beinebyabo. “Quality Assurance of Higher Education Governance and Management: An Exploration of the Minimum Imperative for the Envisioned African Common Higher Education Space.” Higher Learning Research Communications 10, no.2 (2020): 38-52. DOI: https://doi.org/10.18870/hlrc.v10i2.1183.

Neave, Guy. “The Evaluative State Reconsidered.” European Journal of Education 33, no.3 (1998): 265-84. https://www.jstor.org/stable/1503583.

Neave, Guy. “Governance, power and coordination.” IAU Horizons 12, no.1 (2006).

Núñez, Javier, and Benjamin Leiva. “The effects of a tripartite ‘participative’ university senate on university governance: The case of the University of Chile.” Cambridge Journal of Education 48, no.6 (2018): 749-67. https://doi.org/10.10 80/0305764X.2017.1418832.

OECD. OECD thematic review of tertiary education (2008).

O’Malley, Brendan. “First 17 European universities’ alliances announced.” University World News, 27 June 2019.

Pan African University, Strategic Plan (2020-2024) Yaoundé: PAU, 2020.

Pennock, Lea, Glen A. Jones, Jeff M. Leclerc, and Sharon Li X. “Challenges and opportunities for collegial governance at Canadian universities: Reflections on a survey of academic senates.” Canadian Journal of Higher Education 46, no.3 (2016): 73-89.

Rowlands, Julie. Academic governance in the contemporary university: Perspectives from Anglophone nations (Singapore: Springer, 2017).

Saint, William. “Guiding Universities: Governance and Management Arrangements Around the Globe” (2009).Available at: https://teqipgoodgovernance.in/pdf/University-Governance-and-Management-FINAL-Revised-2-Feb-2010.pdf.

Sall, Ebrima, and Ibrahim Oanda. “Revitalising higher education for Africa’s future.” JHEA/RESA 12, no.2 (2014): 95-107.

Shattock, Michael. Managing good governance in higher education. Maidenhead: Open University Press, 2006.

Shattock, Michael. “University governance, leadership and management in a decade of diversification and uncertainty.” Higher Education Quarterly 67, no.3 (2013): 217-33. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/hequ.12017.

Shattock, Michael.“The context of ‘modernising’ reforms in university governance.” In International trends in university governance, edited by Michael Shattock, 1-14. Oxford: Routledge, 2014.

Shattock, Michael. “University governance, leadership and management in a decade of diversification and uncertainty.” Higher Education Quarterly 67 (2017): 217-33. doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/hequ.12017.

Taylor, Mark. “Shared governance in the modern university.” Higher Education Quarterly 67, no.1 (2013): 80-94. https://doi.org/10.1111/hequ.12003.

Toma, J. Douglas. “Expanding peripheral activities, increasing accountability demands and reconsidering governance in US higher education.” Higher Education Research and Development 26, no.1 (2007): 57-72. https://doi.çorg/10.1080/07294360601166810.

United Nations Information Service (USIS). “Information technology should be used to tap knowledge from greatest universities to bring learning to all, Kofi Annan says.” Published August 2, 2000. Accessed 3rd February 2020. https://www.un.org/press/en/2000/20000802.sgsm7502.doc.html.

World Bank. Higher education in developing countries: Peril and promise. Washington, DC: The World Bank, 2000.

How to Cite
Nabaho, Lazarus, Wilberforce Turyasingura, Jessica Norah Aguti, and Felix Adiburu Andama. 2020. “Understanding the Governance Dynamics of a Supranational University: The African Pioneering Model”. Tuning Journal for Higher Education 8 (1), 27-52. https://doi.org/10.18543/tjhe-8(1)-2020pp27-52.