Do we really need more performance indicators in HE?

Review proposes yet more performance indicators.

An earlier post noted that the UK Performance Indicators Steering Group (or the UKPISG, perhaps one of the least felicitous acronyms in higher education), was undertaking a major review of performance Indicators for higher education. It was hoped (by me at least) that this might lead to some rationalisation of performance indicators and a reduction in the demands placed on universities to provide data.

Disappointingly, but perhaps unsurprisingly, there is to be no reduction in this burden. Rather the group has concluded that the performance indicators are valued by the higher education sector and the current approach should be retained.
It also recommends:

broadening the populations and institutions covered by UKPIs to take account of the changing make-up of HE provision and of the HE sector

introducing a small number of additional UKPIs to take account of the wider role of higher education.

So, more rather than less.

There is also going to be more detailed investigation into current PIs and, once this completed, exploration of new areas for additional PIs will begin.

We therefore have a little breathing room but it remains a very disappointing outcome.



2 thoughts on “Do we really need more performance indicators in HE?

  1. Meaningful performance indicators can be key to understanding the value generated by an organisation and how it could be improved. The better indicators are likely to have a direct link between the elements involved..For instance ‘number of queries resolved per member of helpdesk staff’’ may help shed light on the performance of the helpdesk. However the problem with many of the current HE PIs are that they are not very meaningful at all, Many are ‘compound indicators’ involving indirect links which really shed very little light on performance… You can divide anything by anything, but that does not make a good performance indicator. . At least the review has recognised the redundancy of the current ‘research output indicators’ which defy any attempts at interpretation. ( i.e ” numbers of PhDs awarded (output) and amount of research grants and contracts obtained (input), relative to the academic staff costs of an institution (input) and relative to the funding council allocation of quality related (QR) research funds to that institution (input).” I would like to think the review would also seriously consider whether the extant dataset on HE (on which HEIs have to expend considerable resources in providing) is particularly fit for purpose in looking at overall HEI performance. or for analysing the value that HEIs deliver , particularly in relation to capturing the broader economic and social value ( i.e non-financial) generated by universities . ( Sorry but HEBCIS – while a worthy endeavour all those years ago when it was set up – is too shallow and tells you very little that couldn’t be imputed from the HEI financial records as they stand.. ) I will have a good look at the consultation documents and chip in…but I am not holding my breath. A major issue I think is that there is so little research carried out on higher education institutions as organisations ( the higher education paradox – HE will research anything but itself) that data is collected without sufficient thought for end research use … … but that’s another story..

  2. Pingback: Ninth Level Ireland » Blog Archive » Do we really need more performance indicators in HE?

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