13 October 2022 | Report

Leading through disruptive transformations in higher education

Key takeaways from the NEWLEAD Focus Groups on leadership development and institutional transformation in higher education

Luisa Bunescu, Thomas Estermann

Today, more than ever before, universities are expected to fulfil multiple and increasingly challenging roles. Invariably, university leaders are walking a tightrope, caught between long-term strategy implementation and short-term crisis management.


This report, produced under the EU-funded NEWLEAD project, provides a synthesis of the key reflections and takeaways from the two NEWLEAD focus groups on leadership development and institutional transformation that were organised in 2022. The focus groups brought together senior higher education executives interested in further enhancing their leadership skills and aimed at identifying which sort of leadership training is needed to underpin big transformations in higher education.

Participants in the two events worked towards identifying key points for the successful implementation of three crucial transformation areas:

  • Greening and sustainability in HE
  • Female leadership in HE
  • International collaboration (with a focus on the European University Alliances)

This study builds on guidance and insights from the 2021 NEWLEAD report on institutional transformation and leadership development at universities in Europe, as well as previous EUA work on the topic.

logosbeneficaireserasmusright enThe European Commission's support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents, which reflect the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

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