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

  • Lazarus Nabaho Uganda Management Institute, Uganda
  • Wilberforce Turyasingura Uganda Management Institute, Uganda
  • Jessica Norah Aguti Makerere University, Uganda
  • Felix Adiburu Andama Uganda Management Institute, Uganda
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


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Author Biographies

Lazarus Nabaho, Uganda Management Institute, Uganda

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, Uganda

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, Uganda

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, Uganda

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


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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.