Posted on: August 28, 2020

Higher Education Performance Metrics: Are We Measuring the Right Outcomes?

Higher Education Performance Metrics: Are We Measuring the Right Outcomes?

With the onslaught of COVID-19, colleges and universities are attempting to adapt to a seemingly new normal – with some disastrous results.

Beyond the failings for many traditional universities to be immediately thrust into online learning environments to the current catastrophes associated with on-ground re-openings for the Fall semester, universities have struggled mightily to remain true to decades-old performance metrics. Now, as the rest of the world is realizing that the pandemic may forever alter our perceptions of future operations, higher education is forced to take a hard look at their performance metrics in-line with their overall missions and stated objectives and ask themselves the obvious question: What are the possible new outcomes that universities may wish to measure?

  1. Upward mobility of graduates

A current measurement of university success is focused on getting a job. But as practitioners we already know that individuals will have 10 or more jobs in their professional lifetime. In fact, job-hopping frequency seems to increase with every successive generation, and the duration per job shortening.

Instead, the measurement of performance should be focused on the effective upward mobility of the graduate. Specifically, how long is it taking them to move up the corporate ladder? This is much better than measuring whether they are receiving any paycheck after graduation.

  1. Ratio of time between in-classroom learning: outside experiential activities

The good news is that many university programs already recognize the need for external student experiential activities, with internships being the most common form. There’s a need to introduce more experiential activities that can often be done in cooperation with partnering businesses. The goal is to reduce the ratio of time in the classroom and increase the time outside the classroom so students can apply the lessons learned in a real environment.

  1. Flexibility of competency delivery

Most curriculums are static, forcing students to follow a prescribed course path in a rigid fashion. Creativity, if it exists, is usually in the form of electives that provide a dash of color to a relatively bland education. If the premise is that curriculum should encourage real learning and be immediately applicable in the business community, the ability to modulate the delivery of the content should be a measure of performance for consideration.

  1. Volume of effective employee onboarding programs

Corporations continue to have a large volume of open positions that they are desperately trying to fill, and that’s still true during the COVID-19 pandemic when unemployment rates are so high. Today, we are working with several of these companies to create live employee onboarding programs that provide an on-ramp for students to be nearly guaranteed a job during their education. Businesses have the ability to work with us to adjust how students are trained, and students have the ability to experience real-life business events that set the stage for their eventual employment.

Higher education has been forced to a tipping-point by COVID-19, which has exacerbated the realization that universities need to change their performance metrics  to stay true to their mission. In our start-up world, we are attempting to ask different questions and work from a business-first mantra. We don’t expect to find success at every level, but by asking the right questions, it is our hope to change the higher education landscape.

About Brad Dawson

Brad DawsonBrad Dawson is the Chief Student Experience Officer at Fairfax University of America (FXUA) and author of “The Disruptive Warrior – The Hero’s Journey to Corporate Actualization”. He has nearly four decades of management consulting success with over a decade of that time working with colleges and universities to build relevant and measurable programs. He is a frequent presenter to national and international audiences and has been published in over 100 different periodicals on a variety of management, strategy and operational business topics.
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