Research Handbook on Quality, Performance and Accountability in Higher Education
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Research Handbook on Quality, Performance and Accountability in Higher Education

Edited by Ellen Hazelkorn, Hamish Coates and Alexander C. McCormick

As higher education becomes a key determinant for economic competitiveness, institutions face increasing pressure to demonstrate their fitness to meet the needs of society and individuals. Blending innovative research with richly contextualised examples this unique Research Handbook provides authoritative insights from around the globe on how best to understand, assess and improve quality, performance and accountability in higher education.
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Chapter 11: Using indicators in higher education policy: between accountability, monitoring and management

Michaela Martin


This chapter provides an overview of the different purposes that underlie the massive development of indicators in higher education policy. To that end, this chapter concentrates on the use of indicators for higher education policy by central level authorities. It starts by presenting a series of trends within and outside higher education systems, which provides the context in which to explain the current popularity of indicators. Second, it proposes a classification of purposes and uses of indicators for public policy in higher education. Finally, using international comparison, it attempts to link the underlying purposes for indicator development to national administrative traditions and steering approaches used by public authorities for their higher education systems. This discussion provides evidence for the main argument that indicators are developed to support the logic of a national higher education governance framework, which may be geared either to systems’ control, accountability to stakeholders or the enhancement of competition in the sector.

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