Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Doctor of Education


School of Education


Faculty of Education and Arts

First Supervisor

Jan Gray

Second Supervisor

Glenda Campbell-Evans


The purpose of the study was to examine the mission and structure of governance of three providers of pre-university pathway programs based in Australia and operating on a global basis. The aim of the research was to investigate changes, if any, to the purpose and form of governance in this sector for which virtually no research has been undertaken. The literature review of governance in the higher education sector on a global scale in relation to universities revealed an increasing trend toward a corporate style of management. The literature also revealed that the distributors of pathway programs are operating in a highly competitive international environment. It became apparent that models of governance are undergoing re-adjustment to meet the needs of the market and to ensure commercial viability for the content provider. As a result, new models are emerging and changing the approach to the manner in which governance is undertaken.

The method of investigation for this study was a cross-case study of three major education providers engaged in the delivery of pathway education programs on a global basis. Each of the cases selected had a different ownership structure; - a public university; a not-for-profit education organisation; and a publically-listed corporation. By looking closely at the two main parts of the framework of institutional governance, firstly, at the structure (organisational form); and secondly, on the mission (purpose of the organisation) it was possible to determine the salient features of governance and draw a conclusion as to the governance model adopted. The use of Burton Clark’s (1983) Triangle of Co-ordination provided a theoretical framework to evaluate the models of governance and to place them in the relevant context; that is, dominated by one of the elements in the triangle: the government, the academy, or the market. In addition to the two central parts of governance, the elements of quality assurance and accountability that are fundamental to good governance were examined to provide additional evidence of the model adopted.

The small-scale investigation revealed a convergence between public and private providers in their governance structures but not necessarily in their missions. The findings were that all three education organisations have adopted governance models that are based on corporate principles. However, while each of the entities had adopted a corporate structural mechanism this does not fully align with their stated missions. The examination of the mission and structure of the respective governance frameworks of each of the case studies showed a convergence to the market spectrum of Clark’s model.