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The Risk University: Organizational Risk Management in English Higher Education

Professor Michael Huber
University of Bielefeld

Date: 4 May 2010
Time: 1:00pm - 2:30pm
: CARR Seminar Room, G305


Risk has become a critical feature of good governance in English policy making, also in Higher Education. While the introduction of risk management into academia has attracted manageable attention, the introduction of risk management at the university level has been greatly overlooked. This presentation discusses early results of an exploratory study on the implementation of risk management at English universities.

Risk management at university level is only loosely coupled to HEFCEs regulatory regime. The presentation shows, first, how universities interpret academic risks as basically administrative risks. Thus, administrative demands trigger a selection process of what can be considered risks under specific organizational conditions. Generally, the focus is on risks that can be managed rather than those that ought to be managed. Second, the distinct foci and management skills of universities bring about considerable variation of academic risk. The presentation reconstructs how administrative concerns dominate the identification of academic risks. Third, risk turns out to be a flexible instrument. Local interpretations of risks are developed with the aim to ensure managerial continuity or in the back of the manifest aims change the power relations within and among universities.

About the speaker

Dr Michael Huber is Professor for Higher Education Studies with the Institute of Science and Technology Studies at the University of Bielefeld.
Michael is also research associate at CARR. He has worked on risk issues in the context of nuclear regulation, climate change policies in Europe and of insurance managing climate change. Recently he expanded his risk portfolio to Higher Education studies.