Financial Management of Public and Private Universities in Uganda: A Comparative Case Study

  • Florence Nakayiwa

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Business (DBA)


Premised on the assumption of a liberalised higher education sector that introduced market based principles in Universities in Uganda; this study investigates the formats of financial management integration as well as the factors that influence the financial systems adopted by institutions. It explores divergences and convergences in the financial management of public and private universities in Uganda with a view of identifying challenges and establishing best practices that could be adopted within the Higher Education sector. The study begins from a preliminary proposition that the diversification of Higher Education provision has impacted university financial management practices. It then seeks to understand how the individual institutions have been affected. Whereas anecdotal evidence suggested financial austerity for survival in private universities, literature shows large budget deficits and arrears each financial year for the public universities.The study adopts a multiple case study design with two public and two private universities. Taken together the cases provide a more appropriate basis for generalisation about the financial management status of higher education institutions in Uganda. The study acknowledges that the University is operating within a changing national framework that is increasingly inclined towards accountability, financial reforms in the public sector and reduced financing. Yet it is also cognisant of international trends of performance measurement and management as derivatives of this New Public Management ideology. Through document reviews, observations and semi-structured ‘elite’ interviews with participants at executive and middle management levels, the study extends Pollitt’s (2001) typology of financial and performance integration and applies it within a higher education context.The study establishes that despite the similarity in categorisation and the congruence of the contextual environment, it is the source and conditions of funding rather than the private or public orientation of the universities that generate inter and intra institutional differences. More importantly, the source of funding is a major contributor to resource allocation practices, mobilisation, performance rewards and feedback; as much as it inhibits decentralisation in public universities and enhances centralisation in the private universities. Factors influencing financial management range from governance in terms of the distribution of executive power, to size, market and regulation by government. Institutional factors extend to information systems and communication in addition to strategic plan ownership and utility. The analysis of management practices at the four cases underscore that financial management is influenced by both financial and non-financial dynamics.
Date of Award30 Jun 2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorJeroen Huisman (Supervisor) & John Forker (Supervisor)

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