Project Details

A one-year project to benchmark seven universities from New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom.


The project aimed to benchmark seven New Zealand university against five key performance indicators (participation, professional support, teaching quality, curriculum quality and peer review of assessment). 


The methodology included:

  • development of key performance indicators and performance measures
  • self-review phase (using the online benchmarking tool)
  • peer review phase (face-to-face workshop)
  • post-validation phase (Workshop summary sent to participants for verification)
  • reporting phase including a summary of workshop outcomes and recommendations for improvement
  • evaluation.



Dr Sara Booth

Project Leader

University of Tasmania, Australia.




$20,000.00 (excl GST)

$20,000.00 Ako Aotearoa Contribution

Key Findings

Findings on key similarities across three countries

  • To inform university plans, each country relied heavily on analysis of internal and external data. The biggest challenge was that data from some sources may not be available for three years.
  • Partnerships with schools were an important part of assisting students’ transition into university.
  • There was a focus on blended learning in professional development.
  • It was very difficult to get consistency in approach in strategic and operational plans. The challenge was when there were multiple plans over areas. Quite often there was overlap and disconnect with plans.
  • Access to teaching surveys for quality assurance purposes was a challenge.
  • Having externality on programmes was essential for credibility and validation.

Findings on key differences across three countries

  • Language used in national policies on equity and access was slightly different.
  • Australia and United Kingdom focused on social inclusion for different cohorts.
  • New Zealand focused on priority learners (Māori, Pacifica, under 25s) and recognising diversity.
  • Core professional development programmes for academic staff varied from optional to mandatory.
  • Language around courses, programmes, papers, subject, unit and modules varied.
  • There were differences in funding for teaching quality varied across universities, ranging from $70,000-a-year to $3 million-a-year.

Key Recommendations

Recommendations for Arts University Bournemouth

  • Equity and diversity planning | Consider including key data measures that track equity and diversity.
  • Strategy | Develop a coordinated strategy for supporting school students to university.
  • Student support | Work with the National Arts Learning Network to support students coming into the university.
  • Benchmarking | Develop process to track benchmarking data [including benchmark statements] across the University for quality assurance purposes.

Recommendations for Auckland University of Technology

  • Recognise career advice | Formally recognise the career advice role provided at the faculty/academic level.
  • Clarify target students | Clarify whether students in the under 25s without academic preparation programmes are still a target priority group.
  • Professional accreditation | Consider professional accreditation for international tourism.
  • Assessment | Widen and broaden external peer review of assessment internationally.

Recommendations for Birmingham City University

  • Centralise policy and planning | Continue process of reorganising schools and faculties, but ensure that there is centralisation of existing policies and planning.
  • Teaching support | Provide support for academic staff with poor quality teaching.
  • Staff opportunities | Increase opportunities for staff mobility with Erasmus.
  • Online learning strategy | Develop institutional strategy for blended online learning.
  • Assessment | Provide professional development to staff on external peer review of assessment.
  • Curriculum | Strengthen the function of CELT as a collegial support for curriculum development and review.

Recommendations for Lincoln University

  • Māori and Pacific students | Progress the completion of the Pacific Strategy Plan and re-establish MAPAS and Te Awhioraki class representatives.
  • Career development | Develop strategies to support Māori and Pasifika students in career development.
  • Responsiveness | Progress the development of statements in protocols for Māori responsiveness.
  • Programme delivery | Review Poutama Strategy to ensure consistency of delivery of programmes to support Māori students.
  • Staff responsiveness | Disseminate the Māori responsiveness matrix with staff.
  • Teaching quality | Improve induction and professional development of staff in teaching quality.

Recommendations Swinburne University

  • Tracking data | Progress tracking of data analytics in the Learning Management System to identify just in time data for student progression and success.
  • Teaching quality | Undertake mapping of all teaching and learning policies to identify gaps in teaching quality.
  • Professional development | Identify strategies to increase sessional staff numbers in professional development sessions.
  • Staff participation | More work to be undertaken in increasing staff participation in mobility programmes and staff exchanges

Recommendations for University of Tasmania

  • Course quality | Progress data modelling to identify unit metrics which can be used as lead indicators of course quality.
  • Workload review | Progress clarification of teaching expectations as part of the review of workloads.
  • Staff participation | More work to be undertaken in increasing staff participation in mobility programmes and staff exchanges.

Recommendations for Victoria University

  • Tracking data | Progress tracking of data analytics in the Learning Management System to identify just-in-time data for student progression and success.
  • Pathways | Develop more comprehensive approach to pathways, including further development of foundational and diploma programmes that provide clear entry points.
  • Benchmarking | Develop consistent approaches and resources for staff across moderation and benchmarking activities.
  • Professional development | Identify strategies to improve support for sessional staff and to engage them in early professional development.


International Peer Review Benchmarking for Quality Higher Education

A report prepared by Dr Sara Booth.

(PDF, 702 KB, 48-pages).

  • 1 November 2015
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