14 February, 2012

a benchmarking visit

Just over a week ago we were visited by a Finnish delegation from Humak university. Their purpose ? to do a benchmarking visit in a few European countries. During the autumn of 2011 they had made six benchmarking visits to universities of applied sciences within their own country. Now the time had come to go abroad. At the back of their mind was to find innovative pedagogical practices.

In their university they had come to a crossroads where they now had the opportunity to renew all the curricula. Interestingly, they chose to look abroad to broaden their perspectives.
All the core elements of course programmes were covered in the list of questions they sent off to us in advance.

Exchanging information about your own procedures, methods, ideas, research, field work contacts, student satisfaction, quality assurance etc. etc is always a good test. It requires one to (re)think carefully why it is that we chose to arrange educational issues the way we did. In that respect an informal benchmarking visit from abroad can serve as a good pre-run to the real accreditation procedures that we are faced with this current year.
All in all, it was good to talk about how we have arranged our department and course programme the way we have and hear from relative outsiders that we have found interesting solutions, models, tools, strategies and procedures to make it work as a whole. Measuring the quality of a programme is not easy. The principles behind benchmarking could provide new insights into how to go about it and for example compare your programme with others to get an idea of what position you take.
This is the definition that Nuffic applies: Benchmarking is the process of comparing the quality, cost or time of what one organization does against what another organization does. The results are often used to make improvements."
In other words, our next step would be to visit Humak university within a year or two and ask them the same questions and start the comparison for real.

Added a little later .... a news item from the Nuffic website specifically dealing with developments in benchmarking, not to be missed !