HEA scheme to balance college budgets with performance

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It can be tough to determine how well a college performs. Do we measure performance by the amount of publicity a college’s activities receive? The amount of funding it benefits from? The products it creates? Or maybe the employment levels of its graduates?

Oftentimes, comparing one college’s performance against another’s can be confusing, disorientating, and sometimes even misleading.

As a recent Irish Times article has pointed out, the institutions that are most visible to us tend to be those with a heavy focus on innovation. They are also coming under increasing pressure to produce results: after all, the government wants to see a return on state investment through the development of products and services with real-world applicability and the potential to generate profit.

And so the Higher Education Institute published a document two weeks ago in which it outlined a method to capture and analyse all the vital information that determines how well an institute is performing.

In essence, the scheme is designed to assess whether an institution is living up to its strategic mission, which it will have previously worked out with the authority. As much as to 10 per cent of an institution’s budget will be used to incentivise an institute meeting the terms of the agreed compact. Underperformance will lead to a reduction in a college’s yearly budget.

At the moment, the scheme will be given some flexibility as it finds its feet and makes adjustments so that it can ensure fair and accurate results. It will be 2014/15 before it is properly up and running. The real purpose of the scheme is not to determine which institute is the best; rather, it is to encourage high-quality performance in each through a system that is both clear and transparent.


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