Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Developing an Evidence-Based Management Approach for Creating High-Performance Higher Educational Institutions

Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Developing an Evidence-Based Management Approach for Creating High-Performance Higher Educational Institutions

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Traditionally, research in the field of education has often focused on improving the quality of teaching in higher educational institutions (Kennedy, 2011; Almayali & Bin Ahmad, 2012; Diaz-Mendez & Gummesson, 2012; Al-Khasawneh & Moh'd Futa, 2013) and, to a lesser degree, on the quantity and quality of research output (Abdulsalam & Mawoli, 2012; Aydin, 2012; Nisei & Nisei, 2013). This does not really come as a surprise considering that a high quality of teaching is generally seen as an important driver for the development of a country (Wang, 2001, Salmi, 2009; Ramaprasad, 2011). In recent years, the quality of teaching has come increasingly under pressure from the global trend toward massification and internationalization of higher education, i.e. the large influx of new students, and increasing numbers of (international) students looking for better and more diverse education, while at the same time education budgets are under pressure because of the aftereffects of the economic crisis (Auguste et al., 2010; Parker, 2013). This forces institutions to expand, improve and diversify while having fewer resources available. They have to manage the expanding student body as well as the accompanying increases in facilities, staff, lectures, and courses; maintain and improve the quality of teaching, facilities, and curriculum; obtain sustainable funding; improve labour market attractiveness of students; increase managerial and staff capacities, and innovate both the teaching and management processes of the institution (Harrison-Walker, 2009; Pacuraru, 2012). Some scholars even predict 'an avalanche' which is going to change the education sector fundamentally, because three fundamental challenges need to be addressed globally: (1) universities and new providers need to ensure that the education they provide to their students will increase their employability; (2) the cost of education and the quality of education (and research) need to be separated so both can be managed individually; and (3) the entire learning ecosystem needs to be redesigned in order to support alternative providers which tailor to the future needs of both the work environment and new students (Barber et al., 2013).

Higher education institutions that manage to thrive in this dynamic environment and achieve sustainable high results are qualified as high performing institutions. Unfortunately, to paraphrase Altbach (2004), the paradox of these high performing institutions is that ' everyone wants one, no one knows what it is, and no one knows how to get one. ' The literature, however, does provide several characteristics of high-performance higher educational institutions. Auguste et al. (2010) describe the strategies of highly productive institutions, which define productivity as the percentage of students that graduate within a set period of time, by systematically enabling students to reach graduation, reducing non-productive credit courses, redesigning the delivery of teaching, redesigning core support services, and optimizing non-core services and other operations. Based on research at Brazilian universities, Zoghbi et al. (2013) argue that students' social-economical characteristics, student/faculty ratio, and capital input play a role in the productivity of an educational institution. Altbach & Salmi (2011) identified, in their review of world-class research universities, the following key success factors: attract, recruit, and retain leading academics; have abundant funding in place for setting up first-rate facilities and physical infrastructures and for attracting and retaining high-level academics; and have an appropriate regulatory framework with strong and inspiring leadership. They also identified five 'accelerating factors' that may further the creation of world-class research universities: (1) convince large numbers of overseas scholars to return to their country of origin; (2) use English as the institution's main language; (3) limit the number of disciplines; (4) use benchmarking to compare oneself with other excellent institutions and to learn from that comparison; and (5) introduce a distinctive curriculum and pedagogical innovations. …

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