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Performance measurement: HEFCE and CUC perspectives
Existing practice: UK higher education institutions
Implications for policy and practice
Questions and discussion
‘ I often say that when you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind; it may be the beginning of knowledge, but you have scarcely in your thoughts advanced to the state of Science , whatever the matter may be.’ Lord Kelvin (Sir William Thomson), 1883
Strategic planning in higher educations: A guide for heads of institutions, senior managers and members of governing bodies (HEFCE, 2000)
Advocated a three stage planning process:
Planning – environmental scanning and assessment of internal resources, leading to the generation of ideas and decisions, typically to undertake new activities, make improvements or discontinue selected activities;
Documentation – document the plans;
Implementation and monitoring – action must be taken to achieve the agreed goals, monitor progress or non-achievement in order to adapt the future strategy.
Monitoring should take place at various levels within the organisation, with the nature and frequency of reporting determined in advance
Monitoring should include an overview of progress towards meeting the strategic goals, it is suggested at least annually, reporting to the senior management team and governing body
Monitoring information should provide the appropriate level of detail and avoid unnecessary duplication. Information may be provided in a variety of ways, for example verbal or written reports from the senior manager responsible
The monitoring system itself should be subject to periodic (and perhaps independent) review
The role of governing body will depend on the instrument and articles of government
Strategic goals in higher education are difficult to define and measure, however each institution should identify its own key indicators of strategic success, relative to its competitors and comparator institutions
League tables based on (arbitrarily) weighted combinations of performance indicator scores do not provide a sufficient or adequate basis on which to assess university performance
Any measurement system will be imperfect, with continued care needed to guard against unintended consequences
References Birnbaum, R. (2001), Management Fads in Higher Education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. CUC. (2006), Report on the Monitoring of Institutional Performance and the Use of Key Performance Indicators. Sheffield: Committee of University Chairmen. HEFCE. (2000), Strategic planning in higher education (2000/24). Bristol: Higher Education Funding Council for England. Watson, D. and Maddison, E. (2005), Managing Institutional Self-Study. Maidenhead: Open University Press.