Posted by Brian Kelly on August 24th, 2010
Why the interest in evidence, impact and metrics? In part the interest reflects the economic difficulties the higher education sector is currently facing – difficulties which are expected to get worse after October’s Comprehensive Spending Review.
There will be a need to gather evidence of the value of the work which is being carried out within the sector as, without such evidence, there is a danger that such work may fail to be funded when cuts arrive.
The evidence needs to demonstrate the impact of the work and how such work results in positive changes.
There will also be a need to understand the metrics which can ensure that the evidence is being collated and used in a consistent fashion.
Such work will, however, need to consider the potential negative aspects: the dangers, for example, of evidence being misinterpretted or misunderstood, and the risk that an emphasis on metrics leads to approaches being used which seek to maximise benchmarking figures rather than enhance the value of the work for which the metrics provides a proxy measure.
Despite such concerns there are also dangers that a failure to gather evidence will leave services in a vulnerable position. At a time in which we are seeing a much greater emphasis being placed on transparency within the public sector it would seem to be counter-productive to fail to be gathering evidence. The challenge will be to ensure that a better understanding is gained across the sector in the limitations of such activities.
This blog aims to ensure that a better understanding of various approaches for gathering and interpreting evidence and using metrics is gained across the sector.