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Discover the unique practices, stories, and insights on efficiency from Europe’s leading university managers and share your expertise with the higher education community. You can search for good practices by country, by type of institution, by type of practice or by keyword.

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EUA advocacy and policy reform initiatives

European University Association / Association / Belgium

Practice type: Sector -> Communication, advocacy & policy reform

EUA is an important actor helping universities to pool knowledge and efforts at European level. The Association is actively involved in promoting better funding conditions for higher education and research. Its “EU funding for universities” campaign aims to improve conditions for university funding at European level. The campaign focuses on achieving a decision in the EU’s post-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework favourable to investment in higher education, research and innovation. EUA is specifically advocating for higher 9th Framework Programme (Horizon Europe) and Erasmus+ programme budgets. Activities in this campaign focus on two areas: (a) the critical value of investment in research, education and innovation at EU and national levels and (b) the need to enhance efficiency and effectiveness, notably by implementing impactful simplification. EUA also promotes university involvement in such important topics as smart specialisation and Open Science through its Expert Groups on Research and Innovation Strategies for Smart Specialisation and on Science 2.0/Open Science as well as the EUA High-Level Group on Big Deals, comprising university leaders and scientific publishing specialists. The EUA Learning and Teaching Steering Committee shapes the learning and teaching agenda, using peer learning and benchmarking to enhance the quality and relevance of higher education provision

HUMANE leadership training initiatives

Sector-wide / Higher education institutions / European

Practice type:

Sector -> Leadership development

Sector -> Peer learning & benchmarking

Pan-European leadership training for senior university mangers can be offered in formats like the Residential School Programmes run by HUMANE (Heads of University Management and Administration Network in Europe), which are international professional development programmes aimed at developing senior higher education service manager careers. For more details, see www.humane.eu

Joint energy procurement

University of Latvia and Riga Technical University / Comprehensive university / Latvia

Practice type: Institutional -> Professional Services / Procurement

The University of Latvia and Riga Technical University launched a joint procurement project to buy energy. This initiative helped the two universities to save approx. 100,000 euros per year and to optimise the related internal processes.

Higher education clustering in France

Multiple organisations / Higher education institutions / France

Practice type: System -> Other

Clusterings in France are driven by recent reforms aimed at consolidating universities and restructuring the higher education landscape (2007 law on autonomy and responsibilities of universities, followed by 2013 law on higher education and research). Over the period 2000-2019, nine full mergers took place in France while 20 “communities” were set up, gather universities, other HEIs as well as research centres. In some cases, clusterings (comUEs) prepared ground for a full merger or served as a vehicle towards more in-depth collaboration among French universities, while also structuring cooperation with other types of institutions. Merger and clustering activity continue in recent years up to 2020, but the general regrouping of the educational system seems under consolidation.

Joint research communication and outreach in Germany

Sector-wide / Higher education institutions / Germany

Practice type:

Institutional -> Research / Collaboration

Sector -> Communication, advocacy & policy reform

The HRK's Research Map ("Forschungslandkarte") presents key research priorities of German universities in an interactive way. Universities taking part in the initiative jointly inform international audience about their research priorities in layman's terms. The Research Map database is available in English and German. It supports the universities' marketing and internationalisation strategies. For more details, see www.forschungslandkarte.de

Leadership development initiatives in Norway

Sector-wide / Higher education institutions / Norway

Practice type: Sector -> Leadership development

Universities Norway established a strategic objective to “further develop and strengthen leadership training for member institutions in conjunction with institutions’ own research management and institutional leadership programmes”. One such leadership programme: Dean School, is offered to university and university college deans, as well as department heads at the largest institutions. This programme is designed to enhance participants’ skills and to develop their leadership role.

Leadership development initiatives in Sweden

Sector-wide / Higher education institutions / Sweden

Practice type: Sector -> Leadership development

The Association of Swedish Higher Education Institutions runs its Leadership and Organisational Development programme to serve senior executives at Swedish higher education institutions. Network members meet once a year and undertake study visits to foreign institutions. They also engage in common training and certification courses.

Leadership development in UK higher education

Sector-wide / Higher education institutions / United Kingdom

Practice type: Sector -> Leadership development

Universities UK and GuildHE set up a company – AdvanceHE (previously known as the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education) to jointly develop and improve the management, governance and leadership skills of existing and future higher education leaders in the United Kingdom. For more details, see www.advance-he.ac.uk

Efficiency outreach and communication in Belgium

Sector-wide / Higher education institutions / Belgium

Practice type: Sector -> Communication, advocacy & policy reform

Belgian universities, represented by VLIR and CRef, issued a brochure showcasing how they use European research funds to create impact. Together with other partners, the sector wrote to Belgian Prime Minister to underline the importance of placing research, innovation and education at the heart of new EU programmes. VLIR also commissioned an impact study to quantify the economic contribution generated by five Flemish universities (The Economic Contribution of the Flemish Universities, 2017).

Efficiency outreach and communication in Ireland

Sector-wide / Higher education institutions / Ireland

Practice type: Sector -> Communication, advocacy & policy reform

In Ireland, the higher education sector closely collaborates with the Irish Business and Employers Confederation to communicate value for money to funders by demonstrating employers’ satisfaction with graduate outcomes. The Irish Universities Association (IUA) developed the Save Our Spark campaign calling for meaningful higher education funding reform, as recommended by a Government-appointed expert group. The campaign seeks to raise awareness of the crisis and encourage people to sign a petition urging their local TD or Senator to act now. The IUA also commissioned a rigorous socio-economic impact assessment of the Irish university sector from an independent economic research consultancy (Delivering for Ireland: An Impact Assessment of Irish Universities, 2019). For more details, see www.iua.ie

Efficiency outreach and communication in the UK

Sector-wide / Higher education institutions / United Kingdom

Practice type: Sector -> Communication, advocacy & policy reform

British universities maintain a dialogue with the Government and other stakeholders and jointly communicate about the value for money they generate and sustainable investment in teaching and research quality through robust resource management. The sector issued a series of reports on national higher education efficiency and effectiveness and several impact studies to steer the debate and ensure these topics remain a government priority (The Impact of Universities on the UK Economy, 2014; Why Invest in Universities, 2015). For more details, see www.universitiesuk.ac.uk

The National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education

Multiple organisations / Higher education institutions / Ireland

Practice type:

Institutional -> Teaching and Learning / Teaching enhancement

Sector -> Peer learning & benchmarking

Sector -> Sharing of services

The National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education is the national body responsible for leading and advising on the enhancement of teaching and learning in Irish higher education. In partnership with students, staff and leaders in Irish higher education, the National Forum works to develop an inclusive, collaborative and innovative culture that maximises learning impact for the success of all students. The National Forum team is comprised of experienced academic, research and administrative staff and students, drawn from across Irish higher education institutions. The team is united by a desire to connect, support and inform all those involved in the enhancement of teaching and learning in Irish higher education. For more details, see www.teachingandlearning.ie

Programme Beveridge

University of London / Comprehensive university / United Kingdom

Practice type:

Institutional -> Governance and strategy / Institutional efficiency culture

Institutional -> Governance and strategy / Leadership engagement

Institutional -> Professional Services / Estates management

The Programme Beveridge of the University of London supports smarter working on campus. The project aimed to provide an effective workplace for staff, enable them to work in a way that meets their own needs and those of the organisation, encourage staff to work together by breaking down physical barriers, provide efficient and effective storage facilities and increase space for academic and commercial events. Each aim is geared towards supporting the University's overall strategy and towards greater efficiency. The University's total average desk occupancy was estimated at 43% compared to the perceived figure of 71%. The outcomes included a 45% increase in workspaces, 450 m2 increase in social spaces, 25% increase in capacity for academic events, and £800,000 increase in annual lease/hire revenue. Key factors for this success included commitment by leaders who started implementing the open plan (no desk – no office) and “smart working training” for staff.

Irish Survey of Student Engagement

Multiple organisations / Higher education institutions / Ireland

Practice type:

Institutional -> Teaching and Learning / Student engagement

Sector -> Peer learning & benchmarking

Sector -> Sharing of services

The Irish Survey of Student Engagement initiative is a collaborative partnership co-sponsored by the Higher Education Authority, institutions' representative bodies (the Irish Universities Association and the Technological Higher Education Association) and the Union of Students in Ireland. The main purpose of the initiative is to provide benefits to each institution and its students by helping to improve feedback and appropriate follow up action. This survey also helps in increasing transparency in relation to the student experience, enable direct student input, assist institutions to identify issues and challenges and facilitate comparison with other higher education systems internationally.

Predictive analytics at Nottingham Trent University

Nottingham Trent University / Comprehensive university / United Kingdom

Practice type:

Institutional -> Professional Services / Student support services

Institutional -> Teaching and Learning / Student engagement

The NTU Student Dashboard is a learning analytics resource for students and relevant staff at NTU. It has been developed to help students engage more effectively with their studies. The dashboard measures students’ interactions with various resources to present an overall picture about each student’s engagement with their course. Each student then receives an engagement rating from high to low. It has been established that having high engagement is a far more powerful predictor of academic success than any background characteristic or entry qualification. The dashboard has been a collaborative development between academics, IS specialists, educational developers, the Students’ Union other University experts working with an external provider. The institution-wide rollout of the NTU Student Dashboard to facilitate dialogue between students, their personal tutors and support staff has seen widespread uptake, positive impacts on student engagement, and a change in organisational culture towards a more data driven approach across the University’s business. Drop out was reduced 50% using data on student engagement with university. The initiative was awarded the 2014 Times Higher Education award for Outstanding Student Support. Source: www4.ntu.ac.uk/adq/running_a_course/student-success/ntu-student-dashboard/index.html

Strategic Planning at the Warsaw University of Life Sciences

Warsaw University of Life Sciences / Specialised university / Poland

Practice type:

Institutional -> Governance and strategy / Change management

Institutional -> Governance and strategy / Strategy planning

The Warsaw University of Life Sciences (SGGW) has a strong focus on strategic planning as a tool for improving efficiency and achieving goals. The strategy has become a focal point for all institutional processes (e.g. rules for promotion). Thanks to this approach, the University has successfully transformed over the years as a result of planning and execution. Strategic planning at SGGW is embedded into all management processes. A Balanced Scorecard tool is used for monitoring and assessment of progress based on measurable indicators for different areas.

Technology-based efficiency programme of the Silesian Medical University

Silesian Medical University / Comprehensive university / Poland

Practice type:

Institutional -> Professional Services / Digitalisation

Institutional -> Professional Services / Student support services

Institutional -> Teaching and Learning / Student engagement

Institutional -> Teaching and Learning / Technology enhanced learning

Sector -> Sharing of services

Technology plays a major role at Silesian Medical University to increase efficiency in the professional and academic contexts. It is used to streamline support services including administrative management through the use of e-document workflow and electronic staff cards. In the academic context, communication with the dean is organised through the virtual Dean’s Office. Students can prepare for exams online and use a mobile application designed to enhance efficiency of the exam system. The University also established a medical simulation centre to improve practical skills of medical students. The center's facilities are shared with other organisations on a regional and country-wide level.

The Integrated System of Information on Science and Higher Education

Ministry of Science and Higher Education / Ministry or public agency / Poland

Practice type: System -> Direct support for efficiency / Services offered for the sector

Poland’s integrated information system POL-on is the largest repository of data on Polish science and higher education. This system was launched by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education to support more effective public spending on science and education. The system has the following applications: offering data for public statistics, electronic reporting for higher education institutions and scientific institutions, a repository of dissertations and theses, assessment of quality in education, data on science and higher education for students, scientists and entrepreneurs, and assessment of scientific capacity and rational management of resources for science and higher education. For more details, see https://polon.nauka.gov.pl

Poland's new autonomy and governance framework for higher education

Ministry of National Education / Ministry or public agency / Poland

Practice type:

System -> Framework conditions / Autonomy provisions

System -> Framework conditions / Funding provisions

Poland has embarked on a new path in which efficient and effective higher education is directly linked to greater institutional autonomy and more efficient governance. Policy makers supported this change with a new, comprehensive, higher education reform. The main drivers for the reform and its key pillars are directly related to university autonomy, strategic governance, leadership, management and operational efficiency. In the context of the reform, this mostly involves reductions in the administrative and legislative burden, greater organisational and financial autonomy and a shift towards a more strategic university governance model. The new law particularly foresees greater opportunities for higher education institutions to determine their internal governance and organisational structures - universities will be able to develop and adopt more tailored institutional statutes. It also significantly strengthens the role of the rector, who takes on some of the senate and faculty decision-making powers. Under a new funding model, funds will be awarded to universities, instead of, as previously, to their organisational units (for example faculties). Universities will receive one combined subsidy for teaching and research instead of two separate allocations and are free to internally allocate the respective grant shares in a more flexible way. Dedicated funding schemes were introduced to support excellence initiatives and emerging world-class universities. Act 2.0 is expected to offer more room for managerial decisions, create new dynamics and stimulate innovation and entrepreneurship. With this new approach, the government hopes to encourage and stimulate more business partnerships, more innovation and greater entrepreneurship, while maintaining an academic ethos.

Improving Professional Services at Cardiff University

Cardiff University / Comprehensive university / United Kingdom

Practice type:

Institutional -> Governance and strategy / Change management

Institutional -> Governance and strategy / Institutional efficiency culture

The Planning and Intelligence team at Cardiff University has been collecting data about the distribution of all university support services as part of a review of professional services under a comprehensive activity framework since 2016. The team uses the UniForum benchmarking service, which applies a well-tested methodology to capture data. The University has managed to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of its professional services, share best practice and identify where it needs to invest in and structure its professional services.

Efficiency through better governance

The University of Social Sciences and Humanities / Specialised university / Poland

Practice type:

Institutional -> Governance and strategy / Governance

Institutional -> Governance and strategy / Strategy planning

Institutional -> Governance and strategy / Use of data for decision making

Institutional -> Professional Services / Digitalisation

The University of Social Sciences and Humanities (SWPS) in Warsaw focuses on three key areas to enhance efficiency: (1) Governance: SWPS introduced a system that balances university decision-making and academic autonomy by introducing the figure of a ‘Founder’. This position directly appoints the Rector and Director-General and controls strategic financial decisions, leaving the Senate to retain control of key academic decisions. (2) Management: Faculties are managed like ‘business units’ and assigned with enrollment, revenue and profit margin targets to increase efficiency and the student-centered approach. These targets are negotiated with deans who are responsible for the quality of the programmes and cost of delivery as well as for research outcomes. (3) Finance & IT systems: IT supports planning and analysis with appropriate data management systems, increased process efficiency and, increasingly importantly, by enhancing staff and student user experience through proper system design. Some of the lessons learned show that a business-like attitude to faculty management is not at odds with academic values, as long as it is recognised that universities are not-for-profit organisations and that any profits generated by operations are invested in developing the institution.

Nawi Graz Partnership for Natural Sciences

Multiple Higher Education Organisations / Comprehensive university / Austria

Practice type:

Institutional -> Research / Collaboration

Institutional -> Teaching and Learning / Academic offer / curriculum design

Sector -> Sharing of services

In 2004, the Technical University of Graz and the University of Graz established a strategic partnership for natural sciences (NAWI Graz). As part of this collaboration, the partners developed six joint Bachelor’s and 15 Master’s (including seven English-language) programmes in Bioscience, Chemistry, Earth, Space and Environmental Sciences, Mathematics and Physics, which enrol ca. 5500 students. NAWI Graz curricula are developed by an inter-university committee and approved by the senates of both universities. The universities agreed how to share teaching load for each programme. NAWI Graz students are enrolled at the university of their choice and automatically co-enrolled at the partner university. They receive training at both universities and can choose supervisors from either university. For more details, see www.nawigraz.at

Wales Higher Education Libraries Forum

Multiple Higher Education Organisations / Comprehensive university / United Kingdom

Practice type:

Institutional -> Professional Services / Procurement

Sector -> Sharing of services

In 2016, eleven institutions of the Wales Higher Education Libraries Forum (WHELF) launched a common library management system (LMS) and discovery interface, Ex Libris’s Alma and Primo applications. The initiative was supported by a Joint Information Systems Committee (Jisc) feasibility study, which anticipated benefits from pursuing the procurement, implementation and operation of a single LMS. WHELF achieved lower supplier costs by ca. £76,000 in 2015/16 and £150,000 in 2016/17, compared to the estimated purchasing costs. Core subscription costs are also expected to drop from operating as a consortium. By sharing one procurement office, cost savings of ca. £55,000 were achieved through procuring as a consortium, compared to predicted costs. For more details, see http://whelf.ac.uk/

BioTechMed-Graz: efficiency through research alliance

Multiple organisations / Higher education institutions / Austria

Practice type:

Institutional -> Research / Asset & data sharing

Institutional -> Research / Collaboration

BioTechMed-Graz is a research alliance of the University of Graz, the Medical University of Graz, and Graz University of Technology that integrates research activities in basic biomedical science, technological developments and medical/clinical applications. This strategic cooperation enables the partners to address highly complex topics with interdisciplinary teams, apply a broad range of methods, share research infrastructure, align the appointment of professors and jointly promote young researchers. The three universities pool competences in four research areas: Molecular Biomedicine, Neurosciences, Pharmaceutical and Medical Technology, Quantitative Biomedicine and Modeling. For more details, see https://biotechmedgraz.at

MINKT-Initiative

Multiple organisations / Higher education institutions / Austria

Practice type:

Sector -> Communication, advocacy & policy reform

Sector -> Sharing of services

Graz University of Technology (TU Graz), Karl-Franzens University Graz and FH JOANNEUM jointly implement the MINKT–Initiative (mathematics, information and communication technologies). Supported by the State of Styria, this initiative aims to attract young people to these areas and train highly skilled workforce for the region. Ten-eighteen year old students participate in various workshops, where modern didactical and technology/game-based learning concepts and tools are used to raise their interest about mathematics and information and communication technologies.

FH Joanneum's strategic approach to efficiency and effectiveness

FH JOANNEUM / University of applied sciences / Austria

Practice type:

Institutional -> Governance and strategy / Strategy planning

Institutional -> Professional Services / Digitalisation

The institutional strategy of FH JOANNEUM called “HANDS ON 2022” puts forward several strategic goals for “Education and Research”, “Organisation and Communication”, “Employees” and “Finance and Infrastructure”. Two specific goals are aimed to foster effectiveness and efficiency: “A modern and flexible organisational structure ensuring efficiency and effectiveness of all processes” (goal 1) and “An effective governance structure supporting effective management” (goal 2). As part of this framework, the University launched a career development scheme for all employees and improved the organisational structure and communication between different stakeholder groups. Digitalisation is another challenge that will be addressed in the updated strategy, together with the effectiveness and efficiency goals. Two specific activities planned in this respect include “The digital transformation of FH JOANNEUM” and “Developing a lean organisational and process structure at FH JOANNEUM”. The latter involves a range of measures to promote benchmarking, reduce the administrative burden, improve services and integrate management and information systems in order to support knowledge management and organisational learning.

Participatory approach to the design of the university strategic plan

University of Trento / Comprehensive university / Italy

Practice type:

Institutional -> Governance and strategy / Change management

Institutional -> Governance and strategy / Governance

Institutional -> Governance and strategy / Strategy planning

The University of Trento designed its strategic plan for 2017-2019 based on a broad consultation of all governing bodies and representatives of the entire university community. All academic and administrative units were asked to submit a "project for improvement" addressing operational and practical issues through a call for proposals. Top 35 projects in line with the university's priorities were selected and integrated in the strategic plan. The University of Trento pursues the process of continuous improvement by: - Fostering a culture of quality, quality methods and tools; - Self-assessment, critical approach and continuous improvement in the management of all processes that contribute to quality improvement; - Timely action to correct the existing actions and policies.

Efficient access schemes for vulnerable students

Irish higher education sector / Various higher education institutions / Ireland

Practice type:

Institutional -> Professional Services / Student support services

Sector -> Peer learning & benchmarking

Sector -> Sharing of services

Seven Irish universities, Dublin Institute of Technology, Athlone Institute of Technology and the National College of Ireland have collaboratively developed and rolled out the reform and extension of third-level access schemes for students from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds and for students with a disability. Since 2010, the number of participating HEIs has increased from the initial eight to 18. Funding from the HEA’s Strategic Innovation Fund, through a project managed by the Irish Universities Association, has been used to improve the previous schemes on offer to these students. It has also greatly increased administrative and other efficiencies in their delivery, for both students and colleges. In doing so, the Higher Education Access Route (HEAR) (aimed at school leavers from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds) has been extended from 305 to all 730 secondary schools in Ireland, while the Disability Access Route to Education (DARE) is now based on a more transparent use of assessment criteria. It has a more streamlined application process and is more student friendly. Both HEAR and DARE aim to greatly increase the numbers of students from these two target groups applying for college by offering quotas of places (an average of 5% for each scheme across all academic areas) on a reduced Leaving Certificate points basis. Students who secure one of these places are also offered a range of academic and personal supports while at college. A key reform element has been the full integration of both these schemes into the online CAO application process. A dedicated website www.accesscollege.ie has also been developed to provide full details of the schemes and assist students in making their application, and full communications campaigns across schools and target groups have been rolled out.

Shared postgraduate application services

Multiple organisations / Higher education institutions / Ireland

Practice type:

Institutional -> Professional Services / Student support services

Sector -> Sharing of services

The Postgraduate Applications Centre (PAC) is a shared service for postgraduate applications in Ireland. It is currently used by UCC, NUI Galway, NUI Maynooth, DCU, CIT and WIT, as well as for students applying to postgraduate programmes offered under the 3U consortium of DCU, NUIM and RCSI. Established in 1998 by the NUI universities to provide a common applications process for their Postgraduate Diploma in Education (fomerly Higher Diploma in Education) programmes, activities and participating institutions have been expanded in recent years with the introduction of an online postgraduate application system for other postgraduate programmes, both taught and research. PAC is now an important tool for the promotion of Irish postgraduate education internationally.

Shared IT services

HEAnet / Higher education company / Ireland

Practice type:

Institutional -> Professional Services / Digitalisation

Sector -> Sharing of services

HEAnet is Ireland’s National Education and Research Network or NREN. It is part of a global network of NRENs. In 1983, HEAnet was established as a collaborative initiative of Irish universities to provide national and international network services for the sector. HEAnet was formally constituted as a limited company in 1997, owned and managed by its members. At present, there are over 65 participating institutions. HEAnet provides Internet connectivity alongside essential e-Infrastructure and ICT related services to higher education institutions, primary and secondary schools and some other research and educational organisations in Ireland. The range of services has expanded over the life time of the company, to include new developments where ICT can effectively share resources and exploit economies of scale. Examples of recent developments include: 1) Inclusion of software licence procurement (formally CHEST Ireland) within the HEAnet service 2) Development of video conferencing, video streaming and related multimedia services 3) Full integration of the University and IoT network services under HEAnet 4) Edugate, the Irish Education Identity Federation www.edugate.ie 5) Provision of 24 x 7 service and monitoring 6) 100Mb Post-primary Broadband roll-out 7) Edustorage – Cloud storage service The HEAnet Board and its member Institutions actively review the potential for further sharing of services and the transition of these services to the HEAnet framework.

Shared undergraduate application services

Central Applications Office / Ireland

Practice type:

Institutional -> Professional Services / Digitalisation

Institutional -> Professional Services / Student support services

Sector -> Sharing of services

The Central Applications Office (CAO) is responsible for overseeing and processing first year undergraduate applications in Ireland. Its primary mission is to centrally process applications in a fair, transparent and efficient manner. It was established in 1976 by the Irish universities. The Central Admissions Service (CAS) was introduced independently by the Regional Technical Colleges. In 1991, the CAO and CAS combined their admissions procedures with two systems effectively running in parallel covering approximately 21 higher education institutions. In 1998 the CAS was subsumed within the CAO system. At present there are 45 institutions within the CAO system catering for 77,000 applicants offering 1380 courses at Bachelor's and Master's levels.

Efficiency in teaching and research through performance assessment

University of Graz / Comprehensive university / Austria

Practice type:

Institutional -> Governance and strategy / Strategy planning

Institutional -> Governance and strategy / Use of data for decision making

The University of Graz conducts strategic analysis, benchmarking and institutional research to improve its research and teaching performance. The University developed a system of internal performance agreements at all levels (university - department - researcher) and a data-monitoring and interactive feedback system to support the achievement of its strategic goals. One of the University's priorities in academic matters is to perform external research evaluation to improve the research output/impact of the departments and support training of young researchers. In this context, one of the main objectives is to create a clear research profiling of the present staff situation. Another priority is related to the improvement of the teacher-student-ratio, which is a great challenge due to a considerable share of studies with unrestricted access.

Enhancing student performance

Politehnica University of Bucharest / Technical university / Romania

Practice type:

Institutional -> Teaching and Learning / Academic offer / curriculum design

Institutional -> Teaching and Learning / Student engagement

Student drop out is an important topic for Romanian universities. One of the past and current challenges at Politehnica University of Bucharest is to deal with fewer financial resources than in the past and to deliver quality education and training to the students. The University designed an effective institutional framework to deploy financial resources for increasing student performance. These activities focused on curriculum design, teachers' continuous training, and learning experiences design. In addition, it works on developing appropriate tools to measure quality, effectiveness, and efficiency.

Looking for affordable ways to improve teaching and learning

South East European University / Comprehensive university / FYROM

Practice type:

Institutional -> Teaching and Learning / Academic offer / curriculum design

Institutional -> Teaching and Learning / Student engagement

South East European University (SEEU) is developing and operating schemes that will contribute to maximizing the opportunities for teaching and learning and at the same time not burden the budget. For instance, peer-to-peer teaching observation is an instrument that helps measure the quality of teaching and learning and is used as a performance indicator in staff annual evaluation. All new teaching staff takes part in the induction programme. Currently, SEEU is in the process of creating a new tutoring scheme for newly enrolled students and developing a tutoring guide engaging both students and professors to make changes in the ranking and remuneration system.

Optimisation of the internal management and information systems

University of Amsterdam / Comprehensive university / Netherlands

Practice type:

Institutional -> Governance and strategy / Governance

Institutional -> Governance and strategy / Use of data for decision making

Institutional -> Professional Services / Digitalisation

The University of Amsterdam approached efficiency from a financial angle, while implementing a full cost accounting system for the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Development (FP7). Almost all university budgets were handed over to the faculty deans. All university support is concentrated in Shared Service Departments, which receive payment for their services from the faculties under internal service level agreements. Teaching and research were included in the financial records system as key cost drivers. All information systems were united in the same management system with dashboards for the main topics used for reporting. Various graphs are sent regularly to project leaders and course managers to give them information to act on. The system offers three functions: monitor, analyse, and drill into detail.

Data-based performance management

University of Warwick / Comprehensive university / United Kingdom

Practice type:

Institutional -> Governance and strategy / Governance

Institutional -> Governance and strategy / Use of data for decision making

The University of Warwick has been developing its analytics capability since 2006 to facilitate data-driven performance management for academics using top commercial software tools. Several internal datasets (Applications & Awards, Student Records, Publications and HR) were linked into one reporting model to establish a review process for research performance, teaching quality and educational analytics. This model also incorporated HESA data for external benchmarking. Access to the system was restricted to Heads of Department and nominees. Warwick’s research performance is subject to annual review based on the output metric. An Institutional Teaching and Learning Review is run across all academic departments every five years (37 reviews run over 2 weeks covering 786 courses and programmes). The Teaching Quality team is responsible for the periodic review of courses and departments based on Quality Assurance Agency requirements and compliance with Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Bodies Educational. Analytics reporting is embedded into the review process and includes both internal and external benchmarking. Recommendations are fed back to university committees and faculties to implement and share best practice.

Shared campus

Falmouth University and the University of Exeter / Comprehensive university / United Kingdom

Practice type:

Institutional -> Professional Services / Estates management

Institutional -> Professional Services / Shared services

Falmouth University and the University of Exeter created Falmouth Exeter Plus on the Penryn Campus in Cornwall to share library and academic skills, IT and student support, estates, accommodation and all retail services. Jointly owned by the two universities, the entity has its own senior management team and staff.

Green printing

University of Sheffield / Comprehensive university / United Kingdom

Practice type: Institutional -> Governance and strategy / Institutional efficiency culture

The introduction of a “My sustainable printer” service allowing employees to print from any device in any public area on campus reduced University of Sheffield printing bills by 60% and carbon emissions by 50%.

Design of energy efficient spaces

University of Northampton / Comprehensive university / United Kingdom

Practice type: Institutional -> Professional Services / Estates management

Following an audit of the use of staff rooms, lecture rooms, and car parks, the University of Northampton decided to design 40% smaller buildings to generate significant energy savings on its new campus.

Optimisation of high-cost laboratory space

University of Birmingham / Comprehensive university / United Kingdom

Practice type:

Institutional -> Professional Services / Estates management

Institutional -> Research / Asset & data sharing

Institutional -> Research / Research management

The University of Birmingham increased utilisation of high-cost laboratory space by developing larger, more flexible teaching laboratories that can be used by academics and students across a broad range of disciplines. This measure makes teaching more efficient by avoiding the need to run multiple lab classes and increases facility utilisation rate.

Efficiency through purchasing consortia

The Rovira I Virgili University / Comprehensive university / Spain

Practice type: Institutional -> Professional Services / Procurement

The Rovira i Virgili University is part of a flexible purchasing consortium that allows members to benefit from a standard negotiated price based on different invoice procedures and allows them to opt out of certain deals.

Shared services partnership

University of London / Comprehensive university / United Kingdom

Practice type: Institutional -> Professional Services / Shared services

The member institutions of the University of London share the following services: student accommodation, joint halls facilities management and development, treasury management, student occupational health, university press, student services, legal and compliance services, project co-ordination. The members also share career services based on joint infrastructure (e.g. common career service interface, shared IT, job vacancy list, promotion, and internship scheme). Some levels of expertise are shared around skills training – one of the University’s most popular MOOCs is dedicated to skills development. In the past, three separate departments within the University of London offered various support services under different brands and operating models. In 2015, CoSector, a private limited company wholly owned by the University of London, was created as a single point of contact for the University’s professional and student support services in three areas: Digital & IT Solutions; Professional Development & Recruitment; Housing & Support Services. Commercially spirited in service and support solutions, all CoSector profits go back into education and the University of London’s academic endeavours. Moving toward CoSector involved a series of actions: full evaluation of product profitability, cost and performance; cost transparency of internal subsidies; separate internal and external customer base; closure and wind down of loss making or non-growth areas; market propensity and price increase testing; research and development of key growth areas; organisational development and digital transformation; KPI driven culture; transition to cloud based services, upskilling staff, and web and digital platform development.

Fostering graduate employability

Ovidius University of Constan?a (OUC) / Comprehensive university / Romania

Practice type:

Institutional -> Teaching and Learning / Student engagement

Institutional -> Teaching and Learning / Teaching enhancement

OUC aims to increase effectiveness by better preparing graduates for the labour market. The key way to address this goal is by strengthening the entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial education. OUC has partnered with University of Rochester (Ein Center for Entrepreneurship), in a project initially funded by the Romanian-American Foundation and the US-Romania Fulbright Commission, to set up a cross campus entrepreneurial approach. Under this program, OUC academics and top administrators were trained and top UoR experts in entrepreneurship visited OUC to guide the transition. Additionally, in a partnership with Junior Achievement Romania, set up within the Entrepreneurial University program, OUC used a self-evaluation tool, prepared jointly by the European Commission and OECD, called HEInnovate (https://heinnovate.eu/), and is now in the process of training academics and involving students in pre-accelerator programs. Finally, OUC partnered with Google to establish a co-working space called “Atelierul Digital Google” to better prepare graduates for future jobs. The program started in 2016, the first major review being scheduled for 2020.

Raising effectiveness by improving teaching and learning methods

Ovidius University of Constan?a (OUC) / Comprehensive university / Romania

Practice type: Institutional -> Teaching and Learning / Teaching enhancement

OUC aims to increase its effectiveness by improving teaching and learning. To ensure a more effective teaching and to develop soft skills, a program, centered around the Department of Teacher Training but with a cross campus outreach, has been initiated to use inquiry-based learning (IBL) and problem/project-based learning (PBL). Experience with the IBL approach has been gained particularly through the programme funded by the Romanian-American Foundation, called Teaching Physics Differently, whereas the PBL approach is inspired by the Maastricht University model. The program started in 2017 and its initial phase will spread over the next years until 2020.

Value for money strategy

University of Sheffield / Comprehensive university / United Kingdom

Practice type:

Institutional -> Governance and strategy / Strategy planning

Sector -> Communication, advocacy & policy reform

The University of Sheffield adopted a Value for Money (VFM) Strategy to provide a framework for continual improvement in achieving VFM and the related annual reporting. The strategy has 11 key actions for communication and training of staff involved in policy and procurement decisions at all levels, best practice management of estates and facilities, a robust approach to capital project appraisal and budgetary control procedures, and the development of a culture of continuous improvement. The integrated strategy pervades every aspect of activities and sets clear responsibilities based on the Matrix of Economy, Efficiency and Effectiveness defined for Governance & Management, HR, Use of Facilities, Revenue Expenditure and Capital Expenditure. The strategy has guided a series of initiatives to share research infrastructure, review pooled teaching space, reduce energy use, improve procurement, and review IT support structures, contract compliance and student facing services. Examples of the activities and case studies are featured in the VFM reports.

Strategic approach to efficiency and effectiveness

University College Dublin / Comprehensive university / Ireland

Practice type:

Institutional -> Governance and strategy / Governance

Institutional -> Governance and strategy / Institutional efficiency culture

Institutional -> Governance and strategy / Strategy planning

The University College Dublin (UCD) has a strategic initiative to drive a customer focus to its system and process improvement agenda. An organisational reform was implemented in a number of key support units to ensure effective integration and efficient delivery of professional support to faculty and students. These include (a) realignment of devolved student adviser support to an integrated centrally managed support service delivering a coherent and consistent level of support to students; (b) establishment of a central unit to deliver an efficiency and effectiveness agenda across the institution. This unit uses LEAN 6 Sigma approaches to bring a customer focussed value-driven improvement approach to University business. UCD’s 2015-2020 strategic plan (www.ucd.ie/strategy2015-2020/) has ten objectives which shape planning at all levels of the University, directing progress towards the achievement of our vision. UCD Agile is a unit supporting this initiative across the University and delivers the theory and reflection on this matter in the University. A key driver, apart from delivering the primary goals of efficiency and effectiveness, is to use Lean’s focus on customers and value to ensure our processes and systems are customer-focused and effective. As part of the ‘culture shift’ aspect of this initiative the University is developing a ‘community of practice’ model (http://worksmartertogether.ucd.ie/ ) to support the broad process enhancement community within the University.

Efficiency through collaborative procurement

Federal Procurement Agency (BBG) / Ministry or public agency / Austria

Practice type: System -> Direct support for efficiency / Services offered for the sector

The Federal Government founded the Federal Procurement Agency (BBG, "Bundesbeschaffung GmbH" in 2001 by the Federal Procurement Agency Act ("BBGmbH-Gesetz") to provide central procurement services to federal agencies to negotiate framework contracts and make them available to the agencies. The BBG bundles requirements to obtain better prices and terms from suppliers and standardises public purchasing to reduce processing costs and legal risks. It applies e-procurement solutions to ensure consistency of the framework contracts and enhance the auditability of the procurement process. The e-procurement-solution comprises of an electronic publication and notification platform, a desktop purchasing system, a travel booking tool and a data warehouse and analysis tool. The BBG is a non-profit organisation offering free mandatory services to federal agencies. Other public organisations (e.g. universities, hospitals, state-owned organisations) may use BBG's contracts and services for a modest fee. Delivery and payment is done directly between supplier and requesting public body. The central aim of the BBG is to reduce costs of public procurement by standardisation and bundling of needs. In 2014 the FPA reported procurements of 1.2 Billion Euro and savings of 17.7 percent (253 Million Euro). Source: www.bbg.gv.at/english/about-the-fpa

Improving efficiency through better strategic planning

Riga Technical University / Comprehensive university / Latvia

Practice type:

Institutional -> Governance and strategy / Strategy planning

Institutional -> Professional Services / Digitalisation

Riga Technical University (RTU) pursues a strategic approach to efficiency. It efficiency programme has three focus areas: - Strategy: The university introduced several financial incentives based on institutional performance indicators for teaching, research and valorisation (exploitation). On top of RTU’s research goals and faculty research programmes, the university created six research platforms as a coordination mechanism for the inter-faculty and interdisciplinary research in the most important areas for the national economy and society. - Digitalisation & data: Based on the analysis of all study programmes according to eleven output indicators, the university significantly restructured its programme portfolio by closing 41 programmes and creating 21 new study programmes. Furthermore, RTU audited the actual use of premises to collect data on the utilisation of each type of premises according to specific timings. This information was used to optimise the study plan. - Collaboration: RTU is involved in joint procurement initiatives with various state bodies, industry and partner universities. The new strategy was tied with the related performance-based funding model, linking funding to predictions, and equipped with a data monitoring system. Several challenges had to be addressed at the implementation stage, namely the need to discuss and accurately predict results jointly with the faculties, and prioritise the choice of relevant performance indicators for research, teaching and commercialisation by each faculty. The University’s experience shows that a good IT system with accurate data is highly important for both administration and faculties engaged in the planning process.

Increasing student engagement through learning analytics

Open University UK / Open university / United Kingdom

Practice type:

Institutional -> Teaching and Learning / Learning analytics

Institutional -> Teaching and Learning / Student engagement

The Open University has been using analytics to support their students for a long time. As the OU model means that all of their students are studying at distance, analytics is the way tutors have ‘sight’ of their students and are able to determine the timing and nature of appropriate interventions. First piloted in 2014, the project aims to identify students who might be at risk of dropping out of their studies to target interventions at an early enough point to help the student get back on track. It uses predictive analytics based on the behaviours and demographics of previous cohorts of students.

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