Introducing… The Institutional Performance Board

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:

  • investigate, analyse and interpret league tables and other indicators of institutional performance
  • propose and implement or recommend changes to improve performance
  • commission and acquire research on institutional performance
  • engage where feasible and appropriate with those who prepare league tables
  • consider other aspects of institutional performance as may be appropriate
  • report to University Executive Board, Senate and Council as appropriate

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:

  • Benchmarking against competitor institutions
  • Examination of student population trends and implications for league tables
  • Providing advice and support for schools

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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February 10th, 2016 at 2:32 pm

Dr Malcolm Day

I welcome this kind of transparent information. Will it also include our performance in relation to equal opportunities e.g. how does the disability disclosure rate at the UoN compare with other HE1s in England?

Dr Malcolm Day
Chair, Disabled Staff Network

February 10th, 2016 at 4:18 pm

Mike Jennings

Dear Dr Day, thank you for your comment. I think the best point of contact for this would be HR Business Partnering, who should be able to advise regarding HR issues related to strategy. Best wishes, Mike

February 10th, 2016 at 4:53 pm

Mike Jennings

Further to my previous answer, Strategy, Planning and Performance have data for every UK student at every HEI, and may potentially be able to run analytics for this. If it is equal opportunities for students that you are interested in (as opposed to staff), then the best point of contact would be Neil Davidson, Head of Statutory Student Returns and Analytics.

February 11th, 2016 at 3:13 pm

Dr Malcolm Day

Thank you Neil. According to the last Annual Equality report published by the UoN the disability disclosure rate for UoN staff was 2%. According to ECU this is 50% below the national disclosure rate for HEIs and falls 50% short of the university’s own target. This gives some indication of the culture in which disabled staff at the UoN are working – despite the university’s claim that it subscribes to the social model of disability.

February 12th, 2016 at 11:16 am

Mike Jennings

Thank you for raising this – I have forwarded your comment to the People and Culture Team who will be more than happy to hear your concerns and discuss with you the University’s activities to improve the disclosure rate.

February 16th, 2016 at 9:30 am

Dr Malcolm Day

Thank you Mike. However, my original question hasn’t really been answered i.e. will equality data be published on this web page so that the general public will be able to see the university’s performance in relation to national equality benchmarks? After all, this sort of transparency is regarded as good practice by ACAS, the HE Equality Challenge Unit and the Human Rights Commission.

Dr Malcolm Day
Chair Disabled Staff Network
UCU Equality Officer (Disabilities)

February 16th, 2016 at 9:54 am

Todd Landman

Dear Dr Day

I have added your question to the agenda of our next meeting. Thank you for bringing this important issue to the board’s attention.

Best wishes

Pro Vice Chancellor Faculty of Social Sciences
Chair, Institutional Perofrmance Board
University of Nottingham

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