Pandemic leadership in higher education: New horizons, risks and complexities

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11 Citations (Scopus)


The disruption of the academic year by the COVID-19 pandemic required higher education institutions to manage and lead under untenable conditions. This article is a case study of a leadership model adopted at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) located in South Africa. It offers insights into how the leadership and governance evolved and enabled management of the crisis presented by the pandemic. This article presents the relevant theory and concepts on leadership followed by a review of the impact of COVID-19 on higher education. This is followed by an interpretation of the sequence of events as they unfolded at UJ propelled by the mandate to leave no student behind and continue with the academic year. The UJ experience was characterised by the values of social justice, equity, access and teaching excellence. This article explores the University of Johannesburg’s response in relation to these values and leadership theories.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8880
JournalEducation as Change
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • COVID-19
  • Crisis
  • Higher education
  • Leadership

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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