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Informing or Distracting? Guiding or Driving? The Use of Performance Indicators in Higher Education

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Using Data to Improve Higher Education

Part of the book series: Global Perspectives On Higher Education ((GPHE))

Abstract

Contrary to widespread popular belief, the use of performance indicators in higher education institutions is nothing new. To take just one example, in 1916, the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering in the University of Bristol highlighted for the University Council the fact that, with 69 Engineering students, his Faculty was larger than similar Faculties at the Universities of Leeds and Sheffield with 59 and 68 respectively, and that this fact bore testimony to the “excellent reputation” of his Faculty compared with Faculties in cities that formed part of the industrial heartland of the U.K. In practice, the Dean, Professor Wertheimer, was using performance indicators and, moreover, was using such data to support claims for high quality and relative superiority. In this small example, drawn from nearly a century ago, can be seen some of the issues that continue to fascinate and, sometimes obsess, policy makers, leaders and managers in higher education, academic staff and students (past, present and future).

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Taylor, J. (2014). Informing or Distracting? Guiding or Driving? The Use of Performance Indicators in Higher Education. In: Menon, M.E., Terkla, D.G., Gibbs, P. (eds) Using Data to Improve Higher Education. Global Perspectives On Higher Education. SensePublishers, Rotterdam. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-6209-794-0_2

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