05/06/2007 - 22:00

KPIs reflect unis' individual focus

05/06/2007 - 22:00

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The key performance indicators used by public universities in Western Australia reflect each institution’s strategic plan and mission, but are not necessarily relevant across the board, according to a number of the state’s vice-chancellors.

KPIs reflect unis' individual focus

The key performance indicators used by public universities in Western Australia reflect each institution’s strategic plan and mission, but are not necessarily relevant across the board, according to a number of the state’s vice-chancellors.

Edith Cowan University vice-chancellor Professor Kerry Cox said evaluating different universities using the same benchmarks was not necessarily useful.

“The key thing is for individual universities to be evaluated on a fitness-for-purpose basis,” he told WA Business News.

“In Western Australia, there is a very narrow way of thinking about higher education.”

Professor Cox said using the TER (tertiary entrance ranking) cutoffs as a measure of quality was one example of a key performance indicator that was not equally relevant to all universities.

“There are a lot of people who do not get a high TER who do well at university,” he said.

Professor Cox said the graduate destination survey was a useful measure for all universities, while engagement between the university and the community was one of the main performance indicators for ECU.

“The definition I like has been settled by the Association of Commonwealth Universities. They define engagement in universities as a process where the actual work of the university, be it teaching or research that is carried out by academic staff, recognises that a serious and legitimate contribution can be made by those outside the university,” he said.

Professor Cox said building partnerships between the university and industry was important, as was engaging university staff with other professionals.

Murdoch University vice-chancellor Professor John Yovich said that, of all the university’s performance indicators, maintaining a long-term high ranking in both teaching quality and the Good Universities Guide was important, as well as rating highly in the federal government’s learning and teaching performance fund.

For the University of Western Australia, attracting a high proportion of top school leavers was a relevant performance indicator, according to acting vice-chancellor Margaret Sears.

“This university has been designated as having the highest quality undergraduate cohort in the country, and it’s important to maintain our stakes,” she told WA Business News.

Ms Sears said attracting a high quality student cohort made it easier to recruit academic and research staff of a similarly high calibre.

She said maintaining a high ranking in terms of research funding per full-time academic staff member was particularly important to the university.

Curtin University of Technology vice-chancellor Jeanette Hacket was unavailable for comment.

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