Collaborative benchmarking: are you involved?

Collaborative benchmarking: are you involved?

Increased competition in the global higher education sector requires you to respond with adequate strategies for your institution and to evaluate and demonstrate your performance. One of the best ways to do this is to use collaborative benchmarking with peer universities. By reviewing your strengths and weaknesses and comparing the performance of your institution with other institutions you can learn how to improve enormously.

Sharing ideas and good practices enables us all to make more informed decisions. However, beyond this, we have found that benchmarking, when carried out effectively, also makes a significant contribution to the strategic goals of institutions and to the quality of the internationalisation process. Not only does it lead to your improved understanding of what you are doing but it also enhances your engagement with stakeholders. It helps you make better, more informed decisions on institutional directions. It raises your visibility and reputation and strengthens your competitive advantage.

What are the benefits for my institution to join a collaborative benchmarking group?

  •  You learn to self-assess your institution
  • You can better understand the processes which support strategy formulation and implementation
  • You gain knowledge of good processes and learn about good practices to make organisational improvements
  • You obtain data to support decision-making for new strategic developments
  • You assess the competitiveness of your institution
  • You can set reachable targets for improvement

Benchmarking also has the potential to stimulate and support processes of change with a dynamic and developmental approach shaped by the participating institutions themselves. A shared set of standards and targets enables you to visualise a pathway for improvement and if the outcomes are successful, benchmarking will create new ways of working that will encourage continuous learning for strategic institutional developments through the comparison of practices with other institutions.

What areas of internationalisation can I benchmark?

Virtually anything. You can use it for any kind of processes to review strategy, to review your organisational processes which support internationalisation, your student and staff mobility or the international dimension of your curriculum and many others.

How you can I join or start a benchmarking exercise?

Crucial questions to ask are: Who do you want to benchmark with? Other universities in your current network? Universities with a similar institutional profile to yours (the ideal way to carry out a benchmarking exercise)?  If you have some difficulties in finding the right partners, the first step could be to join existing benchmarking groups and learn about various approaches before you can start launching your own benchmarking group yourself. It’s all a great learning experience and a great way of sharing experience.

Let’s talk further

I will be in Dublin to hold an information session on Thursday 13 September (16.30–17.30) in Wicklow Hall 2A. I would like to share my experience of benchmarking methodology and collaborative groups with you all.

By Nadine Burquel.

Nadine Burquel has been managing the ESMU-HUMANE Winter School for Senior Administrators since its launch in 2003, the DEAN network, the MODERN Project, the EU-DRIVERS Project and ESMU benchmarking exercises, amongst others. Nadine has been working at policy level with ESMU boards and steering committees on network developments, projects and training programmes for more than 20 years.

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