University leaders are often faced with a paradox concerning the societal relevance and impact of their university. The paradox is that in discussions at conferences, meetings with external stakeholders and reflective sessions of future strategy documents, they are – truly and fully – committed to the notion of higher education & research as a common good.
But on the other hand, in their day-to-day decisions, they are always tempted to be ruled by those principles and practices of a professional, efficient and effective organisation in a competitive environment. They succumb to the temptation more than they care to admit. And these practices are often indistinguishable from those in a for-profit provider of education as a private commodity. It reminds one of the famous lines of a Dutch poet:
“… between Dream and Deed
Laws are in our way – and practical objections”.