Conference: Assessing Higher Education Performance: Initiatives and Implications. 20-21 October 2011, Crown Promenade Hotel, Melbourne. Register.
Organised by the LH Martin Institute and the European Centre for the Strategic Management of Universities (ESMU) as a culmination of the three-year EU-Step Project funded by the European Union (EU) Erasmus Mundus program.
Performance assessments and their consequences are issues occupying the attention of higher education policy makers and institutional leaders nearly everywhere. Performance assessment has institutional funding implications and impacts directly or otherwise on how academics structure the curriculum and evaluate its quality, access research funding and achieve scientific esteem. It also may help determine at what institution students choose to study – domestically or internationally – and where academics choose to build a career.
The use of performance assessment for international comparisons and benchmarking of higher education institutions is increasing – witness, for example, the proliferation of global university rankings. Many countries are concerned about the standards achieved by university graduates, while at the same time, gaining tertiary qualifications is becoming the norm for the vast majority of citizens.
This symposium examines prominent international initiatives directed at assessing higher education learning and research outcomes. Each initiative examined has global implications for higher education systems, with most specifically concerned with an international dimension of performance measurement. The Symposium will explore four major international initiatives and their relevance for Australian higher education:
Assessing Excellence, the EU2020 Strategy and Promoting Research for Innovation in Realising the Europe of Knowledge

Research and innovation are at the heart of the EU's social and economic development strategies, as is ensuring the excellence of research performance. An example of the latter is the UK Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), arguably the most well established research outcome assessment initiative in the world, and the precursor of similar initiatives in many other countries, including Australia and New Zealand. The symposium will also examine the Research Excellence Framework (REF) which is the new system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions which will be completed in 2014 and replace the RAE. The symposium will review EU research and innovation strategies, the role of the RAE and similar exercises in assessing achievements, and the lessons that can be drawn for Australia.
Assessment of Higher Education Learning Outcomes (AHELO)

OECD Education Ministers commenced discussions in 2008 on evaluating the quality of higher education, and following consultation with international experts launched shortly thereafter the AHELO initiative. The project will test students nearing the end of their undergraduate studies, and is designed so that results are internationally comparable regardless of language or cultural background. The tests will provide data on the quality of learning and its relevance to the labour market. Australia is an active participant in the present feasibility study.
Tuning Educational Structures in Europe started in 2000 as a project to link the political objectives of the Bologna Process and at a later stage the Lisbon Strategy to the higher educational sector. Over time Tuning has developed into a systematic approach to designing, developing, implementing, evaluating and enhancing the quality of degree programmes. TUNING focuses on educational structures and content at the institutional level and is presently being extended to a number of countries outside Europe, including Latin America, the USA, Russia and Africa.
U-Map and U-Multirank
The European Commission has funded two important projects aimed at producing a more sophisticated classification and ranking system for higher education institutions. U-Map is an ongoing project designed to further develop and implement the European classification of higher education institutions. U-Multirank is a multi-dimensional global university ranking project, the objective of which is to develop a feasible transparency instrument that can contribute to enhancing the transparency of institutional and programmatic diversity of European higher education in a global context and test its feasibility. The general intention is to create a transparency instrument that will have a global outreach, potentially covering higher education institutions of all continents.
The Symposium will bring together leading international and Australian experts to address the importance, relevance and policy implications of each of the major initiatives outlined above for Australia.
* Professor Linda Butler, Conjoint Professor, University of Newcastle.
* Associate Professor Hamish Coates, Foundation Director of Higher Education Research, Australian Council for Educational Research; & Program Director, LH Martin Institute for Higher Education Leadership and Management.
* Mr Jon File, Director: Development and Consultancy, Centre for Higher Education Policy Studies, University of Twente, the Netherlands.
* Professor Jeroen Huisman, Director, International Centre for Higher Education Management, University of Bath, United Kingdom.
* Professor Roger Hadgraft, Faculty of Engineering, University of Melbourne.
* Professor Linda Kristjanson, Vice-Chancellor & President, Swinburne University of Technology.
* Professor Lynn Meek, Director, LH Martin Institute.
* Dr Carol Nicoll, CEO, ALTC.
* Professor Frans van Vught, ESMU Chairman; advisor to President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso; & former Rector & President of the University of Twente.
* Professor Andrew Wells, Deputy CEO, Australian Research Council.
* Professor Robert Wagenaar, Coordinator, EU Project: ‘Tuning Educational Structures in Europe’, University of Groningen, the Netherlands.
* Dr Peter West, Former Chief Operating Officer of the University of Strathclyde, Scotland; former President (OECD-IMHE) Programme on Institutional Management in Higher Education.
* Dr Glenn Withers AO, CEO, Universities Australia. More speakers will be announced shortly. Please register by clicking on the Register button. For further enquiries please contact Anna Steer or call +61 3 8344 3157.