The purpose of this study was to examine and analyse how the transformation taking place at the University of Dar es Salaam in the context of corporatisation addressed the challenges of access and equity as central features of national development. The study was based on the premise that widening access to and equity in higher education contributes to the development and prosperity of the nation in Tanzania. The study used a qualitative case study design. Epistemologically, the study was located within the constructivist paradigm which is premised on a social construction of reality. I used both purposive and snowball sampling techniques to select both the research site and the participants. Face-to-face, semi-structured interviews and an in-depth document analysis were used to collect the requisite data. The data were analysed qualitatively by developing themes using the Atlas.ti program.
The findings revealed firstly that both internal and external factors had provided the impetus for the transformation of the university. The findings also indicated a strong move towards the privatisation of the university. This was evident in the outsourcing of the non-core activities of the university as well as the introduction of market-driven programmes. Secondly, the implementation of corporate strategies had both–positive and negative, planned and unplanned consequences. While the university had significantly increased its student intake, improved the efficient utilisation of its resources and diversified its sources of income, it had, nevertheless, been unable to match the increased student intake with improved teaching and learning resources as well as enhanced student support services. In addition, the influence of both donors and the organisational culture shaped and influenced the adoption and implementation of a corporate culture with regard to the management of the university. With respect to the role played by the university in national development, the adoption and implementation of the market approach was characterised by a paradigm shift from viewing the university as a social institution that serves the community to that of an institution that meets the demands of the market. Overall, the findings indicate that effective leadership, supported by a favourable policy environment, was a critical component in the realisation of the institutional transformation goals.
The study suggests that a combination of both the state-controlled model and the market model in public higher education institutions should be encouraged and promoted for the purposes of equity, efficiency and effectiveness. Accordingly, this study suggests that the idea of „asymmetrical balance‟ is a strategic approach that will enable the university to mediate the contesting demands of both the national and the market imperatives. The notion of asymmetrical balance argues that the goals of national development and efficiency are not mutually exclusive and that they could potentially be mutually beneficial.