Successful co-operation of higher education institutions requires clear target-setting
Co-operation is increasingly important for several higher education institution strategies. It may deliver quantitative and qualitative improvements with respect to teaching, research, administration or higher education development. The positive result is not necessarily mirrored in a decrease in costs, however. Its benefit often lies in a higher efficiency of work by strengthening the readiness of people to co-operate directly and intensively at the working level.
On the basis of empirical data, the CHE study “Co-operation between German higher education institutions” (“Kooperationen zwischen deutschen Hochschulen”) draws out success factors for co-operation between higher education institutions or their sub-units. The study includes a check-list, which has been compiled to support the systematic debate.
The study shows that there are no universal solutions. Good communication levels between the partners involved as well as the setting of clear objectives are indispensable for successful co-operation. In addition, personal responsibilities must be determined. Contractual agreements and accompanying project management may contribute to an institutionalisation of the co-operation and thereby strengthen its continuity.
Co-operation is more stable and sustainable if the partners come together on a voluntary basis. Higher education institutions should be entirely free to decide how to co-operate. Beyond this, within higher education institutions themselves, those working on the “frontline”, i.e. the faculties, institutes or central institutions, should be given the possibility to develop their own co-operation projects and find their own partners.
The chances of successful co-operation drop drastically if budget cuts at the national level are quoted or assumed to be the main goal of co-operation initiatives. External proposals from commissions of experts or guidelines from the Länder are also met with criticism and create opposition. Instead it appears more successful to restrict the actions to political target setting with the provider or better still to setting incentives completely in line with New Public Management approach.
Further Information can be found in the publication stated below.