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 42: Civic and regional engagement and accountability

Paul Benneworth and Nadine Zeeman

Abstract

This chapter is concerned with the accountability conundrum for civic and regional engagement by universities, namely how to hold universities to account for a mission that is best delivered as a spillover effect. Despite widespread agreement that universities should contribute to societal development processes, there is an absence of satisfactory metrics to measure that performance. Effective metrics would measure both individual impacts along a wide of dimensions as well as the ways that these are integrated strategically by university managers. The chapter explores a number of quantitative metrics and notes that their lack of popularity suggests that they are not properly capturing what is important. The chapter also explores a set of qualitative approaches in which universities self-report on their strategic efforts as a means of improving their effectiveness. The chapter concludes that metrics for civic engagement only make sense where universities have already committed strategically to driving engagement and there is only limited potential to use metrics to steer HE systems to more engaged outcomes.

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