Performance Indicators

Accountable to Whom?

Institutional Management in Higher Education

In this paper the author examines the implementation of key performance indicators in Canadian post-secondary education institutions. More specifically he charts their implementation from the perspective of students and the effect they have on the quality and delivery of education. Key performance indicators (KPI) in Canada are administered by the ten provincial governments. In each of the jurisdictions in which they have been introduced KPIs have tied various forms of institutional performance to core funding and capital funding allocation.The paper offers a comparative analysis of how certain criteria are promoted by the establishment of KPIs. It examines the introduction of KPIs in three provinces: Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia. In each case the complex set of politics and institutional relations at stake in the establishment of KPIs are examined. A comparative examination of each case provides signposts for best practices as well as instructive lessons in where and how quickly the very definition of accountability becomes a highly politicised term of contention. Finally, the paper makes proactive policy suggestions, from the standpoint of students, about the criteria that should be used in the establishment of KPIs. At all points the paper (re) inserts the perspective of students into the ongoing dialogue about accountability and the changing identity of higher education....

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