Monday, 27 June 2011

Realising business benefits through the use of benchmarking

I attended a seminar at Cheltenham on Friday as part of the HESA project on benchmarking. Far and away the most impressive presentation was from Helen Galbraith on the use of benchmarking between different academic units at Bristol as part of the major reoragnaisation they have put in train there. What I really appreciated about this was the attention given to administrative processes at a detailed level, rather than yet another high-level comparison of NSS scores or staff/student ratios.

I was also struck by the presentation from Thomas Loya at Nottingham. He described an extraordinarily detailed investigation of course costs at the module level that - as far as I could tell from his presentation - reached the conclusion that modules with few students on them lose money. Nottingham - again as far as I could tell from what he told us - had struggled to turn this insight into action, and accordingly was going to spend yet more resource on an even more detailed examination of course costs.

What I take from this is that knowledge is only power in the hands of powerful people who wish to use it.

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