Benchmarking in European Higher Education is an initiative funded by the European Commission to improve the use of benchmarking in higher education.
It is designed to help modernise higher education management and to promote the attractiveness of European Higher Education. Benchmarking is a powerful tool to support higher education institutions (HEIs) and policy makers to better realise the Lisbon goals and the Bologna Process. It is a modern management tool to progress with institutional reforms, increased operational efficiency and the capacity for innovative changes in order to adapt to the new challenges in their environment.
Phase I (2006-2008)
The first phase of the project (2006-2008) aimed to better understand the concepts and practices of benchmarking with a view to improve its use in higher education.
An analysis of collaborative benchmarking in higher education was carried out with extensive desk research. The project produced:
- An online tool with examples, advice and an online bibliography
- A practical handbook with a review of literature and a step by step approach to benchmarking
- An extensive desk research report on benchmarking in higher education
- Guidelines for good practices for effective benchmarking
- A platform to promote exchange and good practices for benchmarking in higher education
Phase II (2008-2010)
In the second project phase (2008-2010) these results are taken further with:
- Four benchmarking groups of HEIs for wide exchange, advice and best practices in workshops. These groups focus on governance, university-enterprise cooperation, curriculum reforms and lifelong learning;
- An online collaborative learning community (in a restricted are of the website);
- Benchmarking tools (questionnaires, reports, handbooks of good practices);
- A series of dissemination events.
Major changes are taking place in European Higher Education. Competition has risen significantly urging Higher Education Institutions to increase their attractiveness on the market and profile themselves much more significantly. Curricula need to be reformed in line with the Bologna Process and research has become very strategic. European HEIs are encouraged to become strong players in the European economy and the global knowledge society.
Quality is key to support all these developments and in this context, enhancing university performance and modernising university management must be on the agenda of all university leaders and decision-makers in Europe. A clear understanding and transparency of modes of operations and processes with a view to improve them continuously is needed.
Although the key benefits of benchmarking are well-known, there is still a significant gap in the use of benchmarking practices in European HEIs. Indicators and benchmarks are needed by university leaders to make informed choices for strategic developments and support the competitiveness of HEIs on the international scene.