The value of partnerships in education is well understood. Partners work with universities in various ways to co-create innovative curricula, implement unique delivery models, provide articulation opportunities, to name a few. Institutions are pursuing partnerships for many reasons, amongst others, to strengthen the institution’s presence and to realise its strategic intent.
The conceptualisation phase of partnerships is exciting, and some challenges are often overlooked. These challenges include clarity of roles and responsibilities, fusing different institutional or organisational structures and goals, and different approaches to governance. International partnerships are often more challenging, spreading across multiple jurisdictions and legislative contexts. Managing partnerships is no small task. Institutions often don’t have defined processes to govern and manage these relationships, especially incorporating it in the academic governance structures to ensure quality, rigour and credibility. It should continuously be monitored and evaluated to ensure that the original goals and objectives are being achieved, in alignment with the core business of academic institutions.
As institutions are encouraged to foster dynamic and transformational partnerships, the pressure is increasing to develop governance structures to support this (Greatbatch, 2014). The term ‘governance’ is derived from the Latin gubernare, which means ‘to direct, rule or guide’; used in ancient times to refer to steering a vessel at sea, which is a suitable analogy for navigating complex partnerships (Morwood, 2005). Governance can also be defined as structures and processes designed to ensure accountability, transparency, responsiveness, rules of engagement and stability (Unesco, 2017).
Partnerships need good governance because the reputational risks are considerable. This paper aims to explore the implications of partnerships on institutional and academic governance. It will provide a unique, adjustable governance model which can be used by institutions recognizing the need for innovative and radical governance approaches in times of change (Copland, 2014).