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Constrained autonomy: academics and institutional leaders empowerment in Ethiopia in the context of the Bologna Process

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-20, 22:16 authored by Geberew Mekonnen, Susan KilpatrickSusan Kilpatrick, John KennyJohn Kenny
This study explored academics’ and institutional leaders’ perception of the empowerment of various actors in Ethiopian higher education institutions. Little is known about university autonomy in Ethiopian higher education in the context of the Bologna Process. Three public universities were selected from the 31 public universities using a stratified sampling technique. A mixed method exploratory research design was employed. The study used descriptive statistics (mean and standard deviation) and inferential statistics (ANOVA and Tukey’s post hoc test) for the quantitative data analysis while thematic analysis was used to identify the emerging themes and meanings within qualitative data. The findings of this study showed that the Ethiopian public universities are hierarchal (top-down) in terms of autonomy as power is highly centralized, and the autonomy of the academic units is constrained. Both academics and institutional leaders expressed dissatisfaction with the current situation. They noted the need for more autonomy for the University, which they expected would subsequently lead to them having greater academic freedom. From the findings of the study, there is a critical need for a flexible and responsive system of governance, where academics and institutional leaders are empowered to execute their core activities. University autonomy should be supported by more collegial and less hierarchical systems of governance. The study suggests shared governance or consultative governance for mutual accommodation if Ethiopian universities are to maintain their academic freedom and institutional autonomy and optimize their contribution to national development.


Publication title

Journal of Further and Higher Education






Faculty of Education


Taylor & Francis Group

Place of publication

United Kingdom

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Copyright 2021 UCU

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  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Assessment, development and evaluation of curriculum; Teaching and curriculum not elsewhere classified; Other education and training not elsewhere classified