Vulnerable autonomy: University governance in the context of student activism in Hong Kong

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Abstract

A managerial model of shared governance is adopted in Hong Kong’s public universities to uphold university autonomy. However, with the political confrontation characterised by the rise of student activism, the sustainability of the managerial form of university autonomy requires review and re-exploration. This paper aims to examine the influence of political unrest on university governance in Hong Kong. Drawing on data from interviews with university council members and student leaders, this paper reveals how university autonomy is upheld in the current governance structure, how different stakeholders variously understand the nature and roles of university, and how these disparate understandings interact with the wider political environment and bring pressure on universities. The paper argues that though university management intended to be politically neutral for upholding institutional autonomy, the space for avoiding politics had been narrowed. This narrowing process illustrates the vulnerability of university autonomy in Hong Kong. Copyright © 2021 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Studies in Sociology of Education
Early online date23 Nov 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 Nov 2021

Citation

Lo, W. Y. W. (2021). Vulnerable autonomy: University governance in the context of student activism in Hong Kong. International Studies in Sociology of Education. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1080/09620214.2021.2007504

Keywords

  • University governance
  • Institutional autonomy
  • Student activism
  • Protest
  • Hong Kong

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