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INDICATORS AND INDICES: DESTINATION OR A PATH THAT IS REQUIRED TO TAKE

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«Education», special release, October 2016
 
“Only by counting the uncounted can we reach the unreached”
The Millennium Development Goals Report 2015. New York
 

What determines the competitiveness of the university today? The question is rhetorical obviously. Professional Community of "appraisers" will undoubtedly identify the criteria for ranking international and national accreditation agencies. The position in those rankings became the hallmark for many universities. The editor of the British Journal Rankings Times Higher Education Phil Batey said, “Reputation is a world currency in the field of higher education” [1].

To indicate universities and list their indices in such ratings are not the subject of this article. We only indicate that the most crucial aspects of appraisal are not only educational, but also the scientific component of the University. For the universities of post-Soviet countries, the high benchmarks are still the criteria for internationalization and publication activity. And here it is important not to look for excuse statements. The academic community understands that the 21st century puts other priorities. “The world economy will inevitably move towards the greater integration and deepening of regional economic specialization. This means that now it is impossible to identify which country produce particular complex product, if the car or the computer is made in Japan, its components are supplied by three dozen countries, and the required for their manufacture raw materials are delivered by about forty countries. Future employees will be able to work in multilingual and multicultural environments.” [2]

Therefore, taking into consideration global trends and new challenges, technology assessment should ultimately account for four key blocks.

First. The criteria for the formation of professional and research skills of students. This will require the development of new measurements of theoretical knowledge and practical competencies.

Second. Marketing policy of the university, including the involvement and support of a faculty. Innovation and originality of educational programs.

Third. Social inclusion - the accumulated experience of the various benefits and support for students, including youth with special educational needs.

The fourth - the conditions for academic work of both students and their mentors. Latest laboratories and classrooms that motivate not only the active process of “familiarization” the set standards of learning, but also for research and discovery.

Today the "savings box" of the integral assessment of universities traditionally contains statistical parameters (proportion, coefficient, ratio, etc.) and the results of the survey of key customers (employers) and the consumers (students and their parents). Obviously, an independent professional assessment should provide the most accurate information about the university "vital activities".

In order to find a unique tandem of statistical and questionnaire indicators - is, certainly, the mastery of the expert team of international and national accreditation agencies.

In practice of the Kazakh government planning guidelines and the benchmark (predicted values) are determined by the customer. And this, to some extent, is justified - the state is interested in the efficiency of investments. However, in such a hierarchy, management of universities is taking a more supervisory role, while the necessary professional initiative on the part of higher education is required.

If at every stage it is strategically important to determine the trajectory of motion forward (target indicator), tactically professionally develop benchmarks (indicators) and promptly "work" for the outcome (event) the success will be assured. This is probably one of the key aspects of performance management.

In this logic scheme, some difficulties are elicited by the development and choice of indicators. In the practice of the indicative management practices the rate should be aimed at achieving the objectives indicated. Whereas, for instance, to evaluate the "contribution" designated in the program document of the indicator "Share of universities with the operating corporate governance bodies (supervisory boards, boards of trustees and boards of directors) from the total number of higher education institutions in achieving the task "Improvement of the management and monitoring of higher and postgraduate education development" shall not be possible. The indicator is more informative.

A more effective could be the indicator “Share of universities, published financial and business reports in mass media.” Moreover, it should not be a formal report to the public authorities (how and where the money was spent). The university has an opportunity to demonstrate the level of management capacity - what are the other mechanisms that allow earning for its development in tough market conditions. In practice of foreign universities annual financial reports are perceived by society as an ethical obligation of the management not only to students and their parents, but also to teachers. American universities demonstrate such constructive experience. For instance, public financial statements of the private Duke University and State University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill) are available on the websites of universities (www.trustees.duke.edu and www.unc.edu/budget/).

Few Kazakhstani universities have experience in providing open information to the public. This problem is indicated by the Head of State in the Plan of the nation - 100 concrete steps to implement the five institutional reforms - "Introduction of the practice of annual reports on the outcome activities of heads of national institutions of higher education to students, employers, representatives of the public and the media." At the same time, the initiative of all the other institutions of higher education in the country in this regard would be only welcomed. And it would be logical to integrate such objectives into the education programme documents.

Determination of the predictive values of the indicators is also a weak link in the strategic planning. Here, experts consider such "impact factors" as demography and migration, financial and other risks. However, staff training issues corresponding to the priorities of the modern economy and social policy, are still valid. The statistics show an increase in the proportion of graduates among the unemployed population. “For 5 years, the share of unemployed people with higher education degree increased by 5%, with secondary vocational (special) degree by 6.9%.” [3]

One of the reasons that specialists with the tertiary education (colleges and universities) are not in demand may be the growing changes in the labor market. “The profession is also ageing and dying. This process is natural, it happens at every change of technological cycles ... But if earlier cycles were longer in the tens or even hundreds of years, now their duration are less than 10-15 years. Moreover, although the "ageing" of the profession is not instantaneous, it is better to learn about the "candidates for retirement" as soon as possible, rather than when the "pension card” [2] is received.

Issues of training with the prospects of the world's labor markets are vigorously being commented by the international experts. Moscow Agency for Strategic Initiatives in the analytical paper "Atlas of the new professions" provides information about Russian universities, which have already started the training of future specialists. For instance, institutions of higher education such as the MSTU named after N.E. Bauman, Moscow Power Institute, National Research Nuclear University by the order "Energy" industry commissioned the training “Designer of the recovery systems” (development of technological solutions for the "capture" of excess energy of moving vehicles (rail and automobile transport, metro).

Therefore, intersectorality of indices has been and remains the most critical aspect of strategic planning. While selecting the target indicator such as the "Share of college graduates, trained by the state educational order, employed in the first year after graduation" it is required a clear identification of risks and allocation of the responsibility zone among the public authorities. This requires concerted and synchronized actions by all stakeholders.

This indicator includes an “output” - for the state (grants) and parents (family budget), this means that the funds were not spent in vain. But how successfully graduates in the labor market and the level of employers' satisfaction with their training can be measured only by the effect indicator (Outcomes). For instance, “90% of Kazakhstan's business community noted the high level of training” (survey results).

Ideally, the state finances higher education institutions through the grants or student pays using parental money for the N-number of years of schooling. By and large they are interested in the deferred result - successful professionals with a high level of skills and individual performance. This not only ensures the reputation to the university - such human capital determines the prosperity of the country and welfare of the nation.

As it is known, the five indicators of high school are making their “personal” contribution to the positioning of Kazakhstan in the ranking of the Global Competitiveness Index of the World Economic Forum. This is one statistic (coverage of the population with the tertiary education (ISIC 5, 6, 7, 8) and 4 questionnaires (accessibility of research and educational services, the quality of the education system, cooperation of universities and business in the field of research and development, quality of schools management).

Annually GCI results were widely discussed by the professional community. We shall only recall that in comparison with 2014 GCI -2015 the progress of high school in the country in 11 positions is registered only based on the indices “Availability of the research and educational services” (55th place). Remain stable the positions of an indicator “Cooperation of universities and business in the field of R & D” (88th place).

The Role of Higher Education in ensuring the competitiveness of the country is evident. Therefore, a clear understanding of the global mission by institutions of higher education is invaluable. The development strategy of the institution of higher education - is not the destination, but the way that should be passed through - and, if possible, without mistakes and losses. In addition, the use of the target-based indicators and indices should become the starting point of the movement forward.


Literature

  1. http://tass.ru/obschestvo/3275675.
  2. Atlas of new professions. Second edition. Agency of strategic initiatives. Moscow, 2015.
  3. National Report: on the state and development of education system of the Republic of Kazakhstan for 2016.