Task Force 3: Autonomy and Accountability

Leader: University of AntwerpKarel van Liempt
Contact: Karel van Liempt (karel.vanliempt@ua.ac.be)


Year 1: Comparative study on strategies
Year 2: Identification & implementation of best practice
Year 3: Evaluation, valorisation and promotion


This TF will trigger substantial impact not only for the partners directly involved in the project, but also for the multiple short- and long-term target groups. Major achievements envisaged by the end of the contract period are the promotion of a standardized quality label for ‘International Medical Schools’ across the continent and beyond, better trained trainers & staff at internationally oriented medical faculties in Europe. In addition more autonomous and accountable medical faculties across Europe which will form a driving force and play an exemplary role for peer institutions.

The members appointed in TF3 are aware that in order to meet the challenges of internationalisation and globalisation, the medical schools/faculties will need greater autonomy and adequate funding in the near future. The institutions must be accountable to staff and students, as well as to the wider public. Given that greater autonomy usually results in an increased need for accountability, TF3 will work out the following plan in the course of the first two project years:

In the course of project year 1, an analysis (based on desk research) will be carried out on the current state and developments in the partner institutions. P4 will be the leader of this TF and host two working meetings in the course of year 1 in order to coordinate the workload, divide the tasks and come to appropriate conclusions in view of continuation of the assignment. A detailed description of the organizational design, the leadership and the financial control systems of each partner will be required as a starting point. A comparative analysis will follow. The learning outcomes of year 1 will be the definition of strategies for optimal institutional autonomy and accountability which will consider the specific background of each partner. These findings will be gathered in a final report.

In the course of the second project year, the TF3 members will focus on implementation. Where possible, the learning outcomes of year 1 will be implemented at the partner institutions and feedback (to the TF3 leader) will be provided on this process (second report). TF3 will work closely together with TF2. The aim will be to improve the quality of teaching and research through the identification and subsequent implementation of autonomy and accountability strategies. Given that the targets for this second project year are ambitious, it is assumed that two additional hands-on TF meetings will be necessary. The agendas will focus on a) the exploration of the accountability triangle, i.e. the balancing of higher education responses to state priorities, academic concerns and market forces and b) the rapidly changing relationship in Europe (and beyond) between the higher education institution and the state. This relationship has a major impact on both the internal and external governance of universities and therefore also on the implementation of an internationalization strategy. There is an urgent need to investigate strategies for optimizing institutional autonomy and ensuring accountability as well as to identify ways in which university leaders can enhance their steering capacity using good practice examples from across Europe and beyond.