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Benchmarks and Benchmarking

in the UK -

Lessons Learned

Catherine Connor

Quality Enhancement Unit

London Metropolitan University


1. Context - Higher Education in the UK2. Context-London Metropolitan University3. Quality & Standards Benchmarks – Quality Assurance Agency4. Benchmarking in Higher Education in the UK5. London Metropolitan University – Quality Management & Benchmarking6. Lessons Learned

benchmarks and benchmarking
Benchmarks and Benchmarking
  • Benchmarks are referencepoints or measurements used for comparison, usually with the connotation that the benchmark is a 'good' standard against which comparison can be made
  • Benchmarkingis a process of finding good practice and of learning from others
  • Benchmarking is also a means of measuring performance against comparator institutions





Degree Awarding Powers and University Title in the UK

165 recognised bodies with Degree Awarding Powers and

700+ others delivering HE courses


How does the UK QAA safeguard standards?

  • QAA is independent of government and universities
  • Each institution is responsible for the quality and standards of their awards
  • The UK Quality Code for Higher Education provides institutions with guidance on benchmarkexpectations on quality and standard
  • The QAA audits compliance and highlights good practice through Higher Education Review (HER) every 6 years

The UK Quality Code

  • The purpose of the Quality Code is:
  • to safeguard the academic standards of UK higher education
  • to assure the quality of the learning opportunities that UK higher education offers to students
  • to promote continuous and systematic improvement in UK higher education
  • to ensure that information about UK higher education is publicly available and accurate.
  • The Code gives individual higher education providers a shared starting point for setting and maintaining the academic standards of their higher education programmes and awards

The Quality Code

The Quality Code has 3 parts comprising of a number of chapters;

Each chapter has an Expectation and a number of indicators.

Part A: Setting and maintaining threshold academic standards

Part B: Assuring and enhancing academic quality 

Part C: Public Information

qualification and subject benchmarks
Qualification and Subject Benchmarks

Framework for Higher Education Qualifications

  • provide important points of reference for setting and assessing academic standards
  • promote a common understanding of the Expectations associated with typical qualifications by facilitating a consistent use of qualifications titles
qualification and subject benchmarks1
Qualification and Subject Benchmarks

Subject benchmark statements provide a means for the academic

community to

  • describe the nature and characteristics of programmes in a specific subject or subject discipline.
  • represent general expectations about standards for the qualifications at each level - the attributes and capabilities that those possessing qualifications should have demonstrated.
national level data for benchmarking
National Level Data for Benchmarking
  • Key Information Sets – the items of information which students find most useful when making choices about which course to study
  • Unistats
  • League Tables
    • The Guardian
    • The Complete University Guide
entry requirements
Entry requirements
  • Each university has different entry qualifications and requirements - minimum grade or total number of tariff points
  • Some institutions take additional information into consideration, such as contextual data about school or postcode
  • UCAS Tariff points held by students previously enrolled on the course.
employment data
Employment Data
  • The Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey
  • Recent graduates - working, studying, looking for work or even travelling
  • If employed, they supply job description and details of the company
  • Survey - in two parts:
    • an early survey covering all students who complete their course roughly six months after completing
    • and a later survey of a sample of these respondents three and a half years (40 months) later on.
    • 80% complete the early survey
    • 40% complete the later survey
the national student survey nss
The National Student Survey (NSS)
  • annual survey of final year university students canvassing their opinion about what they likedand did not like about their student learning experience during their time in higher education.
  • statements are put to students who rate their university and course on a five-point scale from 'definitely disagree' to 'definitely agree'. The groups of statements cover topics such as:
  • The teaching on my course
  • Assessment and feedback
  • Academic support
  • Organisation and management
  • Learning resources
  • Personal development
what we do at london met
What we do at London Met
  • QAA Benchmarks
  • Benchmarking

Quality Assurance at London Met

General Principles

  • National QA standards (reference points) informed by international standards
  • Quality culture promoted at national and institutional level
    • shared values and commitment to quality assurance and enhancement
    • structures to support this
  • Institutional responsibility linked to senior executive
  • All staff fully engaged in quality assurance and enhancement

Quality Manual

  • Institutional quality assurance and enhancement procedures, guidance and templates including:
  • procedures for the approval, monitoring and periodic review of courses
  • procedures for student engagement and public information
  • guidance on enhancement
lessons learned benchmarks
Lessons Learned - Benchmarks
  • Agreed national framework required
  • Essential for standards assurance
  • Independent scrutiny
  • Comprehensive understanding in universities
  • Use of external subject experts and employers
  • Encouragement of good practice
  • Openness and transparency
  • Quality Culture
lessons learned benchmarking
Lessons Learned - Benchmarking
  • Supports student choice
  • Data and information – accurate and available – often co-ordinated by external agencies
  • Promotes accountability and helps safeguard public funds
  • Supports sector improvement
  • Drives enhancement across universities and within
  • Supports efficiency across universities and within