Academic Digital

Unregulated KIS's?

I’ve always been keen to see data that engages more with ‘how did we develop this student from where they started from?’ rather than final grades, etc. so the new KIS are of concern – read more about them here:

I recently spent an enthralling Sunday morning renewing my car insurance via a price-comparison website. In the past, I’d always performed the insurance-renewal ritual via a series of telephone calls in which I’d asked patient and blameless call-centre workers whether the companies employing them were having a laugh. While this involved some cheery conversations and usually resulted in a decent outcome, it did take rather a long time.

The website I used allowed me to be precise in my search. But the process took as long as ever. I found myself having to compare seemingly similar products that were actually quite different. This was because, in the key information provided, critical data were missing. For instance, the website identified whether a product included legal cover and at what cost, but not the level of cover provided. In most cases the absent details could be obtained only by making a phone call …

Nonetheless, car insurance is fairly straightforward; and although we all wince at its cost, policies are far cheaper, simpler and easier to compare than the complexity of UK university courses. As we know, the idea that prospective undergraduates should be able to make informed comparisons between programmes and institutions is central to the government’s vision of market-orientated higher education. But its plans for the provision of vital data, via Key Information Sets, are inadequate and likely to be misleading and counterproductive.

Read full story, and read more on the HEFCE site. I also thought this story about ‘adding social value‘ was of related interest… ┬ásee, e.g.

Universities have long measured their financial value, for example the spending power of their staff or their total turnover, she explained. But the report recommends finding an economic price for all university “outputs”, including those not captured by financial analysis….

A “social weight” could then be applied to this economic value to reflect social priorities, for example by counting an activity as more valuable if it delivers to the poor rather than the rich.