With universities coming under growing pressure to justify how they use their resources, efficiency is back in the spotlight. But the focus will increasingly be on how well institutions meet the needs of their students, while accommodating growing cost pressures.
Our universities operate in a challenging environment. Expectations of funders and fee-paying students are rising. Competition from traditional and alternative providers is becoming more intense. And costs continue to increase. All of which mean that institutions need to do ever more with the resources at their disposal.
When it comes to improving efficiency, our universities have already made great strides. They have streamlined processes and eliminated waste. They have improved space utilisation and reduced energy consumption. They have shared services, pooled assets and co-located professional services staff. And they have become lean, mean procurement machines.
Efficiency can be a challenging concept. We accept that it’s a good thing, but we struggle to define it. We may recognise it when we see it, but the factors that drive it frequently remain elusive. And just when we think we’ve finally pinned it
down, we find that it can mean different things to different people.
Which is why I’ve been delighted to work with the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education to research and prepare ‘Getting to grips with efficiency’, a guide aimed at those with governance responsibilities within UK higher education institutions.
The guide covers a broad range of efficiency-related topics, from the history of efficiency in organisations to how it is approached in today’s universities, and from how governors can help to promote efficiency to what institutions are already doing to make more efficient use of the resources available to them. In short, if you want to learn about the efficiency agenda and its impact on the UK higher education sector, this is the guide for you.
Over the last few months, I’ve been working with Falmouth Exeter Plus, the shared services delivery partner of Falmouth University and the University of Exeter, on an exciting project to measure, analyse and model the costs and benefits of collaboration between UK higher education institutions. Continue reading →
I have spent the last couple of weeks immersed in all sorts of performance measures. Some have been good, some have been less good and others have been inspired. So while the thoughts are still fresh in my mind, here are some tips on how to develop performance measures for your organisation that will really make a difference. Continue reading →
At the annual conference of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) last week, Amyas Morse, the head of the National Audit Office, called on the government to explain how it will respond to failing public services in the new environment of increased competition and spending restraint. Continue reading →