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KPI Basics:

A “KPI” is a Key Performance Indicator, or in other words something that we can track or measure.  An example of a KPI in higher education is Student-to-Faculty Ratio.  This is a number, that varies from year to year, that represents the number of faculty that work at the University compared to the number of students enrolled at the University.  Many say that this key ratio represents the quality of teaching in a University.  The idea is that students are better off if there are more faculty members working there.  Students will get more attention, there will be more choices in terms of classes, and there will be more opportunities for collaboration or advising with faculty.  Most, if not all, universities track this ratio, and therefore it also provides an easy method to compare universities to each other.  This type of KPI can be easily measured and tracked with data that the university already tracks within their administrative systems.  Some KPI’s can be tracked with external data, such as surveys.  In the US, we have the National Survey for Student Engagement, nsse.iub.edu, where this central organization distributes surveys to students, collects the information, and then provides assessments and feedback to the university.  KPI’s can be used to determine changes within the university or to compare with a group of peer universities.  

Who uses KPI’s?

I have seen KPI’s used in varying degrees by different universities.  Of course, most universities are required to track some KPI’s for external compliance purposes as well as internal management.  KPI tracking is often a part of a Performance Management initiative, where the university wants to standardize on a broad set of metrics across all areas of the organization.  In other words, they want to go from sporadic pockets of KPI tracking (perhaps in spreadsheets/offline systems), to formally establishing KPI’s, setting targets for each KPI, and benchmarking against peers – across all colleges/departments and using data directly based on administrative system sources.  Sometimes, the “drive to measurement” starts with a new Provost or President, who has effectively used KPI’s before. 

Any discussion of KPI’s should be tempered with some reality.  KPI’s cannot possibly encapsulate every different angle that is important to each constituent of a university.  Even if we equip a car with the latest gadgetry and on-board computers, we will still need a driver to decide where we are going and to get us there safely.  KPI’s and performance management systems can be effective tools, but they still require the right people to translate the results into the right course of actions. 

KPI Examples in Higher Education:

Here is a pretty good list of KPI’s that I have gathered from speaking and meeting with various universities.  Hopefully this will be useful for you, and I welcome your thoughts about KPI’s in Higher Education.  I have also posted these on a new wiki page, so you can navigate there and add more KPI’s.

I have structured the KPI’s so they fall under a perspective and then an objective. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Academic Perspective

 

 

 

 

Student Success: Recruit, retain, graduate the best students

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Provide Quality Academic Programs and Support Services

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Attract and retain outstanding faculty/staff

 

 

Student Recruitment Metrics:

 

Freshman Inquiries

 

Freshman   Conversion

 

Freshman   Applications

 

Freshman   Selectivity

 

Freshman Accepted

 

Freshman Yield

 

Freshman Enrolled

 

SAT/ACT Score   Quality

 

 Top 10% Rank in Class

 

Discount Rate

 

 % of Financial Need Met

 

Graduation Metrics:  

 

Degrees Conferred

 

% of Students   Gaining Employment within x months

 

Retention Metrics:

 

4-Year Graduation   Rate

 

5-Year Graduation   Rate

 

6-Year Graduation   Rate

 

1-year Retention   Rate

 

Graduate Student Metrics:

 

# of Research   Assistants

 

GRE Quantitative   Score

 

 

 

%   of Course Sections with an enrollment of 20 or less

 

%   of Course Sections with an enrollment of 50 or more

 

Passing   Rate for National Licenses or Exams (e.g. Nursing, Pharmacy, Law, etc)

 

Academic   Support Spending per Student Headcount

 

Instructional   Spending per Student Headcount

 

Student   Participation in Study Abroad

 

Faculty-to-Student   Ratio

 

 

 

Average   Faculty Salary and Benefits

 

Employee   Satisfaction

 

Faculty   Tenure Rate

 

Number   of Endowed chairs and professorships

 

Staff   Turnover Rate

 

Staff   participation in central HR training

 

 

Financial Perspective

 

 

 

 

Optimize Expenditures

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advancement and Endowment

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remain Compliant

 

 

 

 

Administration   Spending per Student

 

Departments   exceeding budget

 

Number of   Financial Shadow Systems

 

Complete all   capital projects on-time

 

 

 

Average Alumni   Giving Rate

 

% of Campaign   Goal Pledged

 

% of Campaign   Goal Collected

 

Endowment per   Student Headcount

 

 

 

A-21 Audit   Findings

 

Cost of   compliance as % of budget

 

Laboratory Safety   Violations

 

OFAC Compliance   Violations

 

Time to close   fiscal year (in weeks)

 

Violations of   OSHA, HFPA, BOCA, NRC, and FDA

 

 

 

 

Research Perspective

 

 

 

 

Increase Funded Research

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Provide Adequate Research Facilities

 

 

 

 

 

Increase Faculty Scholarly Activities

 

 

 

 

Contracts   and Grants Funding Awarded

 

NIH   Grants Funding Awarded

 

Number   of Patents Issued

 

Proposal   Success Rate

 

 

 

New   Lab space available for research

 

Laboratory   Safety Violations

 

Sq   Ft of Incubator Space

 

 

 

Members   of National Academies

 

Number   of publications or performances in national outlets

 

#   of Tenured Faculty

 

 

Campus and Community Perspective

 

 

 

 

Improve Campus Life

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Support Integrity and Service to Community

 

 

 

 

 

Support superior athletics

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Promote and Enhance   Sustainability

 

 

#   of Public Safety Officers

 

Campus   Wireless Network Coverage

 

NSSE   Supportive Campus Environment

 

Number   of Students graduating late due to course availability

 

 

 

Community   Perception Survey Score

 

Funding   for Public Services Initiatives

 

Student   Awareness of Code of Ethics

 

 

 

Graduation   Rate for Freshman Student athletes

 

Placement   in Directors Cup

 

 Student Participation Rate in Intramural   Athletics or  Sports Clubs

 

 

 

Reduce   CO2 Emissions to Target

 

%   of Space LEED Certified

 

%   Spend with “Sustainable” Vendors

 

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