Portfolio Management:Efficiency, Quality, UtilityMalcolm GilliesLondon Metropolitan UniversityAUA Conference, University of ManchesterTuesday 3 April 2012
Be part of something . . . BIG! The 150 million question
Global post-secondary education: seven propositions1. mass education (97%) not elite education (3%)2. market-driven value for money (affordability) and successful participation (accessibility)3. in-country or virtual provision (97%) not cross-border mobility (3%)4. total ability to pay (individual, employer, state, family) rather than public/private contribution
Global post-secondary education: seven propositions5. skills more than qualifications leading to jobs6. family opportunity (wealth, immigration) rather than individual empowerment or benefit7. global questions of change being addressed by a highly unglobalized industry (viz. high national regulation).
The Global Challenge Affordable Quality Education: Value for Money in an Age of AusterityEducation for the mass of HE aspirantsAffordable to the “whole community”, wherever the widening participation may come fromQuality: “Decent education . . .”Value: “For a decent price”.An Age of Austerity: Declining living standards; reduced government expenditureIn summary: The continuing massification of HE at a time of, or because of, austerity.
Massification of HEUnited Kingdom (Leitch, 2006) By 2020:Basic skills: over 90 percent of adults Level 2 or aboveIntermediate skills: over 70 per cent of adults Level 3 or aboveHigher skills: over 40 per cent of adults Level 4 or above (degree)“2020: Prosperity for all in the global economy – world class skills”2020: 50 per cent of London jobs requiring Level 4 or higher skillsAustralia (Bradley, 2008)By 2025, 40 per cent of aged 25-34 with degree qualificationsUnited States (Lumina Foundation, 2011)By 2025, 60 per cent of the population with degree qualifications.
Massification of HE: how?1. Increasing HE productivity to serve more students2. Tailoring curriculum, pedagogy (and consequently, staffing) to meet social, economic or employment goals3. Designing new levels of efficiency in support services.4. Drawing on the different intents of widening participation, fair access, and massification, to maximise utility.Hence, affordable mass education. Of quality?
Affordable Quality Education: a case studyLondon Met, in its various guises, has been providingAffordable Quality Education since 1848. Our StrategicPlan’s No. 1 and No. 2 priorities are “providing aquality learning experience for our students” and“enhancing student participation and ensuring fairaccess”. Our Plan adds, “on equitable principles”.
Affordable Quality Education1. We are committed to affordable and equitable practice:• We have set UK/EU undergraduate fees at an average of £6,850 (approved) and are seeking to bring postgraduate student fees to an average of £8,000 (recommended)• We are seeking to harmonise UK/EU and international fees where there is no government subsidy to students (recommended)• We are ensuring affordability both to our students and to the taxpayers of the future – this is an important aspect of our Strategic Plan’s commitment to social justice.
Affordable Quality Education2. We are committed to providing value for money:• We have redrawn undergraduate and postgraduate portfolios (around 160 courses each) and are increasing teaching time and term lengths for most of our students• We are concentrating our research and research training work so that it also is affordable, and has demonstrable financial support• We are process-redesigning our administration, as a prelude to sharing services with other universities; through application of a new resource allocation model, efficiencies will benefit the student experience.
Affordable Quality Education3. We are committed to an access approach:• We recognise the debt aversion of many, particularly our poorest students, so have set low, clear price tags• We are keeping the message simple for prospective students (e.g. limited fee waivers, rather than bursaries), so our fees are transparent, and mean what they say• We have bid for new “affordable” student numbers, and have successfully been awarded 564 extra student undergraduate places by HEFCE for 2012/13.Source: Extract from “Affordable Education of Quality”, Australian HE Congress, Sydney, 26 March 2012.
Drivers for portfolio change at London Metropolitan University• Merger in progress from 2002• Student funding debacles, 2007-9• High student non-completion rates• Low student satisfaction• New strategic plan, 2010-13, involving UG and PG education reviews• Browne Review → new fees for 2012• Changing configurations of demand
Lesson 1When you invent a new course,establish tight time-lines forassessing its success or failure, andconsequent renewal or deletion.
Lesson 2Regularly weed the portfolio garden,and dispose of weeds thoughtfully,lest they just spring up again aroundthe corner.
i-MAP finding“Three quarters [of institutions, i.e. 76%, in 2010-11] undertake systematic review of their portfolio – a relatively new approach for HEIs”• University level, 29%• School/faculty level, 23%• “School level reviews integrating with university level reviews”, 21%• Another model, 3%Source: Innovation in the Market Assurance of New Programmes, i-MAP project, http://www.i-map.org.uk/documents/i-MAP%20Conference%2017th%20Nov%20- %20Presentation%20-%20Survey%20of%20Practice.pdf
Lesson 3Cost, demand, employability, andaffordability are key factors, and not acop-out to “vocationalism” or “theprofessions-only” university. (Thereare key associated factors ofmode/location, satisfaction andreputation.)
Lesson 4Keep the portfolio simple, minimizeadministration costs, maximize pencein the pound to “front-line” activity,enhance ease in making studychoices. In short, a defensibleportfolio perimeter.
Lesson 5Course reshaping needs to be guidedby what maximizes the institution’s /faculty’s / department’s educationaland research opportunities. Thenormally equates to “hasdemonstrable student demand”.
Reversal lesson 5Staff supply and resource supplyneed to be taken into account, butsupply-led portfolios only really workif reputation trumps “natural” studentdemand.
Lesson 6The most crucial person in the large-scale reshaping of the portfolio is . . .
Lesson 6The most crucial person in the large-scale reshaping of the portfolio is THE FACULTY DEAN
The role of the DeanThe Dean has delegations andaccountabilities for developing andimplementing institutional policy, inparticular through maximizing educationand research outcomes of the faculty andits departments through the wise use ofhuman, physical and financial resources.
Lesson 7Rigorous conformity to a costingmodel may produce a “fair” result, butrarely produces the best result, thatis, rarely maximizes opportunities.
i-MAP finding“Exercise caution in the use of data so thatit is not used to make mechanisticdecisions but rather used to informjudgements. However, taking decisionswithout data or secure market intelligencecan constitute a serious risk.”Source: Consideration 2.4, http://www.i-map.org.uk/documents/i-MAP%20Conference%2017th%20Nov%20-%20Key%20Considerations.pdf
Rigour and conformityBut rigour is still needed, in maximizingresources in support of the mission;and conformity is needed once thedecisions are made, otherwise a hopelessconfusion will reign, and orderly coursemanagement and marketing will beundermined.
Devolution or subsidiarity“Staff are not fully appreciating thatdecision-making is being devolved,and faculties are being asked tomanage their portfolios with guidanceand help from costing models.”
Lesson 8The exercise of portfolio review isvery valuable for building new staffand student attitudes, and forpractising meaningful collegiality.
i-MAP finding“. . . There is tension between the notion of academic freedom and institutional efficiency, accountability and responsiveness. A more collaborative and collective approach, involving managers/leaders, professionals and academics in both programme development and portfolio management may beneficially ease this tension.” Source: Considerations 4.1 & 4.2, http://www.i-map.org.uk/documents/i- MAP%20Conference%2017th%20Nov%20-%20Key%20Considerations.pdf
Lesson 9Work out your communicationsapproach in advance, and try to getthere before those who will inevitablyoppose you. That said, sometimesdue process means that you must beseen as reactive rather thanproactive.
Media attention: April-May 2011• 61 per cent neutral• 20 per cent negative• 19 per cent positiveThe key word: “cuts”
Neutral‘“Bonfire of the lecturers’ begins as courses cut” (Independent, 16 April 2011)“London Met may cut more than half of degree courses” (Guardian, 15 April 2011), but also “Classicist, musician, axeman” (Guardian, 3 May 2011)
Positive“Worried about fees of £9,000? How a degree need not cost so much” (Sunday Times, 17 April 2011)“Dressing the wounds of government cuts” (New York Times, International Herald Tribune)
Negative“London Met applicants trapped in limbo by course closures and UCAS deadline” (Times Higher, 5 May 2011)“Up to 10,000 student places could go” (Islington Gazette)
Lesson 10If you are the vice-chancellor beprepared to be toasted, and roasted.One person’s portfolio rationalisationis another’s curricular barbarity, athird’s denial of academic freedom,and a fourth’s value for money.
The 150 million questionCourse portfolio management:• Part of a larger question of responsible educational management• Efficiency in use of resources• Value for money, in balancing efficiency in use of resources with quality of educational outcomes• Resulting in utility in serving stakeholder needs.