Guidelines for good practice

The purpose of the guidelines for good practice is to help both benchmarking groups and individual higher education institutions (HEIs) interested in embarking on benchmarking exercises to consider the key issues necessary for their successful development.

Benchmarking exercises/groups should consider the following issues:

Benchmarking partners should

  • Be selected based on a shared understanding of the benchmarking goals, fields and comparisons, which may or may not rely on existing inter-institutional contacts
  • Have a clear and communicated understanding of the expected degree of involvement (time, human and financial resources) from the start
  • Ensure a high level of trust within benchmarking networks, as sensitive data will be exchanged
  • Obtain commitment from senior management of all partner higher education institutions

Purpose and goals should

  • Be explicit, both internally and externally with benchmarking partners
  • Link to the national/European context of quality assurance and measurements of performance
  • Connect closely to the institution’s strategies and to the development of a benchmarking and quality culture
  • As a result, the benchmarking exercise must have a clear focus

Indicators should

  • Not only include inputs but also outputs and/or processes
  • Be quantitative as well as qualitative, as most issues are best compared by using a mix of quantitative and qualitative methods
  • Be selected according to the relevance for the purpose, not solely on existing data
  • Measure outcomes in relation to inputs

Procedures/operations should

  • Be clearly documented using a transparent methodology which is communicated both inside the institution and among benchmarking partners
  • Be supported with adequate human, financial and other resources to carry out the benchmarking exercise
  • Where appropriate, be implemented by carefully selected and trained experts in assessment/evaluation work
  • Be established so as to process data in a well-structured way
  • Ensure a periodical monitoring/review of the effectiveness of the benchmarking process and its value in implementing changes at the relevant level within the participating institutions (measuring outcomes)

Reporting results should

  • Be carried out in an effective way (internal/external)
  • Produce well-structured, transparent andcomparable information (qualitative/quantitative) with a view toidentifying good practices and gaps in performance which can lead tofuture target-setting
  • Apply measures to enhance the credibility andthe visibility of the benchmarking exercise
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