Ranjani Kirtane is the director of analysis at increased schooling analytics firm HelioCampus.
Faculties and universities are more and more being requested to assist their choices with information. A 2022 report from Educause highlights this as one of many high traits driving institutional decision-making and strategic planning for the long run.
Having dependable, actionable information on the prepared has change into a vital element for operating day-to-day operations on the college degree. The proof for that is evident in a rising variety of information governance and benchmarking initiatives at establishments.
Benchmarking has the facility to alter organizational considering and motion. With entry to benchmarking information, establishments can higher perceive and optimize their investments over time. It’s an underutilized method to fixing increased ed’s largest ache level: offering high-quality schooling in probably the most environment friendly means attainable.
Benchmarking is the method of evaluating your establishment’s efficiency to others to realize insights into areas of enchancment. This will happen internally, by evaluating practices amongst departments or divisions, or externally, by measuring the establishment towards its friends and opponents in your business or different industries. When carried out successfully, benchmarking can present the place modifications are wanted, tips on how to optimize present sources, and the place to make strategic investments to advertise monetary sustainability.
For instance, the Larger Studying Fee, an accreditor, has developed a number of financial and non-financial indicators that can be utilized by establishments to benchmark internally and externally. Past maximizing monetary, administrative and human sources decision-making, benchmarking information will also be leveraged to tell ongoing greatest practices that tackle key areas and rising points resembling psychological well being, campus security, scholar providers, instructing and analysis, info know-how, advertising and communications, fundraising, services, and variety, fairness and inclusion.
Regardless of its effectiveness, schools and universities have been sluggish to undertake benchmarking. Creating requirements for comparable, cross-institutional metrics has been a long-standing problem. Nevertheless, it’s an space the place vital progress is being made.
What wants to alter for benchmarking to work higher in increased ed?
Previously, schools and universities have used widespread benchmarking measures resembling rankings, check scores, enrollment, and commencement and retention charges to gauge themselves towards others. Whereas these metrics could be priceless, they don’t seem to be sufficient on their very own to assist an establishment obtain monetary sustainability or maximize return on funding.
Labor value benchmarking has change into an necessary space of evaluation as a result of staff are usually the largest expenditure for establishments. Employees salaries and advantages could whole as much as 70% of whole spending. Benchmarking labor spending will also be helpful for accreditation reporting to reveal credible and tangible proof of being good monetary stewards.
A significant concern for increased schooling now could be the looming enrollment cliff. Exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the enrollment cliff is a projected discount within the quantity of highschool graduates who will enroll in school. The incoming school inhabitants is anticipated to decrease by 15% between 2025 and 2029. Quite than bracing for the worst and hoping for the most effective, leveraging information to chart a strategic plan of action is one of the best ways ahead for schools and universities.
How does smarter benchmarking permit establishments to thrive within the face of market disruptions?
Smarter, data-driven benchmarking can higher illuminate the place hidden alternatives mislead reinvest in scholar success.
When main market disruptions happen, it’s solely pure for leaders to wish to shift their instant focus to value slicing and layoffs to remain afloat. Nevertheless, it’s essential to know the info first, as a result of in some cases useful resource reallocation could be the wiser alternative than value slicing in the long term for general monetary stability and return on funding. It’s equally as necessary to know the place the establishment is underinvested so as to strike a correct stability.
As soon as comparable and actionable information is made accessible, administrative officers can start answering questions resembling: Are our labor investments aligned with our college mission and strategic initiatives? Which actions will we should be investing in additional to stay aggressive and greatest serve our college students? Which administrative actions are we investing in additional in comparison with benchmarks, and what’s our return on these investments?
Benchmarking is all about studying from others. Harnessing the facility of information amongst friends creates an necessary intersection for collaboration and studying. With extra strategic cooperation and collaboration, increased ed can leverage information to enhance the way it effectively and successfully serves college students and employees. It might adapt and evolve in a fashion that higher aligns with stakeholders’ wants, whereas on the similar time schools keep true to their missions.