Exploring public universities as social enterprises

Document Type


Publication details

Miles, MP, Verreynne, ML, McAuley, A & Hammond, K 2017, 'Exploring public universities as social enterprises', International Journal of Educational Management, vol. 31, no. 3, pp. 404-414.

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Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore how universities attempt to balance meeting their traditional mission of education, research and community engagement while remaining economically sustainable.

Design/methodology/approach – A survey was conducted in 2014 of university executives and found that universities in Australia are rapidly transitioning from public supported institutions to an organizational form much more like social enterprise, with all of the organizational, marketing and ethical ramifications.

Findings – Australian universities were found to be focused on maintaining financial viability and that the most significant source of future revenue for Australian universities is perceived to be from international students.

Originality/value – The findings have tremendous public policy and ethical implications – suggesting a shift in the classification of university education from what was generally considered a public good to what is increasingly perceived as a private good in the contemporary market place, with the increasing importance of international students.

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