February 10th, 2016
The University’s standing in relation to its peer institutions can’t be underestimated in terms of impact. National and international league tables, the National Student Survey, REF — they all have an effect on research funding; development of teaching and learning; and how we attract the best students and staff to the institution.
Higher education league tables are important. Among other factors, they help prospective students choose where to apply and study; allowing them to compare courses, staff:student ratios and student experience rankings from institution to institution.
But they’re not the easiest things to understand. Data sets are weighted differently from table to table, and sometimes the smallest percentage change in our or our competitors’ results can result in a big leap up — or down — the rankings.
What does this mean for our courses, schools, faculties, and the institution as a whole? The Institutional Performance Board (IPB) tracks the University’s performance across a number of tables, aiming to accurately reflect and improve Nottingham’s performance compared to other institutions.
The Institutional Performance Board was set up to:
Established in January 2014, the IPB meets quarterly and is chaired by Prof Todd Landman, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for the Faculty of Social Sciences.
Prof Landman said: “The Institutional Performance Board monitors, seeks to influence, and sets out strategies for addressing the wide range of indicators, metrics, and league tables used to judge different aspects of University performance,” said Prof Landman. “The Board includes key directors of professional services sections and PVCs and meets regularly to undertake its duties. It works with the new Faculty PVCs and structures to work toward improving all aspects of University performance.”
Other work undertaken by the the IPB includes:
Last year league table meetings took place across all schools. Prof Sarah O’Hara (Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education and Student Experience) and Tom Loya (Director of Strategy, Planning and Performance) led sessions which covered the UK and international league tables, including measures, position and trends, and the main drivers of performance for each school and subject area, emphasising the impact of average undergraduate tariff and the NSS on rankings in particular.
Since then, the Strategy, Planning and Performance (SPP) Division have released a Subject Table Explorer and an NSS Results Explorer, both of which allow colleagues to quickly reach a much better understanding of their subject area’s performance on both, as well as to see their performance in its competitive context – meaning you can see an analysis of the full results for any subject at any other UK university. These resources (and several others) are available to all staff, and can be found in the “SPP Tableau Catalogue” in the Strategy Support Centre. The Subject Table Explorer also includes an explanation of the meaning and source of all measures.
An important first step to improving the University’s performance is for all staff to better understand these rankings and to appreciate the contribution their individual or team work makes to them, so we do urge colleagues to make use of these resources.
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