EU higher education systems are operating in an increasingly fast-changing and competitive environment. They have to tackle key issues dealing with massification, career guidance, cost-efficiency, international attractiveness, student mobility.
At a more operational level, digital practices and technologies support the change of several aspects of higher education institutions and new players providing expertise and methodologies undermine the classical model of university as a leading knowledge producer and disseminator.
Such major transformations require modern governance arrangements and dynamic leadership. As outlined in the EU Modernization Agenda of higher education (2011), the major bottleneck found is the staff competence and preparedness, more specifically at the institutional leadership and executive management level. The issue of the modernization of Learning in the 21st century has been often addressed by foresight studies, such as VISIR project (visir-network.eu) and its Multi-Stakeholder Consultation activities.
In this framework, some European initiatives -i.e. the MODERN platform – or some European projects -i.e. the La Manche project – have been launched to respond to the need to promote leadership skills and the culture of streamlined change management in academic settings.
So far, these initiatives are generally focused on operational (managerial) aspects, D-TRANSFORM is the first European-funded project focusing on the fundamental strategic aspects of digital innovation of Higher Education. Through leadership schools, its goal is to help university governing bodies to define their own digital strategies and coordinate them with public policies defined at the European/national level; and finally, to plan e-education according to the university needs and profile.