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The variety of metrics found presently is truly gigantic. Many definitions for higher education are found in research literature. General consensus is that this relates to…
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AAA Xin Liu WRT 205 Ryan McClure April 8, Strategic issues management of higher education s: Introduction: There is a growing body of metrics used for measuring or appraising the effectiveness of higher education. The variety of metrics found presently is truly gigantic. Many definitions for higher education are found in research literature. General consensus is that this relates to any post-secondary school education which seeks to structure the minds of students and helps them become responsible professionals in various fields of interest. In order to measure the effectiveness of higher education, specific variables are considered based on their roles and the influence they have on both students and the institutions. Discussion presented in this synthesis essay hopes to accomplish the feat of identifying those sources which are thought to provide in-depth analysis of how effectiveness in higher education can be achieved. It is important to determine these sources in relation to higher education because they illustrate different variables which are commonly employed in higher education settings. Studying these variables facilitates the readers in understanding those underlying mechanisms through which the variables make the process of higher education efficient. Some important factors considered in this case include productivity, effectiveness, unit cost, and efficiency.
With reference to the factors of productivity, efficiency and effectiveness, there are various perspectives that influence how each of these factors can be used to measure the overall effectiveness of higher education institutions. While different sources provide varying arguments regarding how effective higher education is, a universal element in the form of technology is considered in most of these sources. Technology is mentioned in various sources as a factor that influences the effectiveness of higher education. This synthesis essay seeks to agree while at the same time it also offers a different perspective since most sources are peer-reviewed and offer quality appraisal metrics regarding the effectiveness of higher education.
Thesis statement:
Following discussion aims to illuminate the reality of this claim that “the effectiveness of higher education is influenced by strategic management of inputs to influence outputs.” It is important to understand the terms within this thesis statement since following discussion is led by these concepts of strategic management, professional input, and educational outputs. The greater the level of inputs, the greater the level of outcomes or outputs is noticed. Inputs can be defined as the resources of higher education institutions which are based on students themselves, school administrators, staff members, buildings, and educational climate. Outcomes can be defined as the targets set by administrators or the results which are actually achieved by high schools. This synthesis essay aims to evaluate the nature of influence exerted by inputs on outputs to explicate how this association between inputs and outputs eventually manages to benefit higher education institutions in terms of effectiveness.
Synthesis:
According to the New Oxford American Dictionary, productivity is defined as the rate of return from every unit of input. In addition, productivity is defined as the effectiveness of an entity in managing input to influence a certain specific outcome. However, a different perspective of viewing productivity without the consideration of effectiveness is by analyzing the specific variables considered in an activity of responsibility. Based on timeframe and nature of activity such as projects, productivity can be viewed as the outcome of proper resource management to meet goals. In light of the definitions presented in the section of thesis, this perspective is valid in that it takes care of situations where inputs may influence the achievement of outputs or outcomes. Though a greater rate of inputs is known to lead toward a greater rate of outputs, the chances of imbalance between inputs and outputs have not been able to be measured accurately yet through the consideration of how much of the predefined goals are achieved. For instance, assuming the cost of higher education learning in New York-based universities was $10,000 per year and in London-based universities was $15,000 per annum and that institutions in both cities provided the same quality of education, the degrees earned in either set of universities would be the goal of investing in education. However, the difference between input and the uniformity of outcome does not support this assumption.
In his highly insightful article on organizational effectiveness, Kadir (1) defines effectiveness as the concern of an organization in accessing and deploying resources in a strategic manner that enables that organization in reaching its desired objectives. This definition is presented by Kadir after a detailed analysis of a variety of different popular models of effectiveness. In another research study by Massy (2), effectiveness in higher education is defined as the flow of inputs and their role in influencing a specific outcome. Powell (108) defines effectiveness of higher education as a factor measurable by considering the rate of graduation as well as the overall performance of different sets of students. In addition to this, Powell (108) also argues that higher education effectiveness can be measured through the retention rate of an institution.
According to Kadir’s definition of effectiveness, an organization is considered as any unit of operations hosting different activities, working towards a specific goal, and employing or having a team of workforce that influences the outcome. However, this definition is very wide and does not consider specific industries and sectors. Business organizations and educational institutions may employ the same management protocols to ensure that productivity is sustainable. However, the same management strategies may not be equally effective in both areas. In business, every organization operates on its own philosophy which defines need for effectiveness and also instructs on how to gratify that need. Organizations aiming at making profits to sustain their productivity manage costs and improve on value such that they are able to generate sustainable returns. However, in higher education institutions the balance of cost is not achievable through the control of costs. The higher education sector is different from one region to the other. For instance, UK higher education system and the US higher education system differ in both cost and curriculum. The higher the cost of education, the better the quality of higher education delivered to students. For example, internationally known institutions such as MIT, Harvard, and Oxford Universities offer more marketable quality of education in terms of employment opportunities for students in specialized fields due to vast experience and a huge collection of resources which the likes of these institutions enjoy. Thus, the effectiveness of these institutions can be measured through the consideration of how many resources the institution makes available to students whose cost of higher education is considerably high as well.
Massy (2) argues that higher education effectiveness is a measure of how an institution is able to acquire and deploy resources to influence a specific outcome. The consideration of effectiveness as being the success with which an institution is able to balance inputs are outputs lacks an essential variable, value. Since the higher education sector is run by public and private institutions, the desire to learn and the problem of cost determines how effective higher education is to the student and to the general society. Thus, while assessing the effectiveness of higher education through the consideration of cost and time inputs, personal interests also affect the system. In 2010, president Obama encouraged female students to take STEM courses to increase their chances of getting better paying jobs (The White House, para. 1). In Obama’s perspective, the quality of higher education was efficient to meet the interests of students who chose to take mathematics and science courses. Efficiency, in this particular context, is defined as the probability of achieving success in professional life. Considering the perspective of Massy and Obama’s point of view, it is observed that the effectiveness of higher education is highly influenced by personal choices made by students.
Powell (108) points that the effectiveness of higher education can assessed by considering both the retention and graduation rates. An institution that has more of its students graduating in time and retaining a high percentage of students throughout an academic year is perceived as effective. High retention rate is influenced by a number of factors among them cost of education, accessibility of the institution, range of courses offered in the institution, and the overall quality of education as it influences marketability of students. Based on cost of higher education, a high retention rate is possible provided that the institution offers affordable courses. On the other hand, the availability of specific courses in specific institutions influences retention as students do not have alternative institutions to take the same courses from. Additionally, despite the chances of high cost of education, some institutions have a higher retention rate than others based on the quality of education. Quality of education can be estimated based on previous data of how many elites meaning accomplished professionals an institution has been able to produce within a certain period – 10 to 20 years, for example. This estimation criterion influences personal choices of students to study in those institutions which have produced a higher number of popular or well-accomplished individuals.
On the aspect of measuring effectiveness by considering graduation rates, Powell’s point of view is slightly flawed as graduating students have various factors influencing their rate of graduation. During economic crises, the cost of education, as well as the cost of other services and products suffer inflation. During this period, the rates of graduation can change or remain the same from one academic year to another. However, another possible outcome is that students affected by economic crises are able to graduate at the same rate as students who do not face economic crises but a slower pace. For instance, an economy that forces students to increase their tuition fees by 40% can influence a 25% increase in academic years. Thus, students who can graduate in four years without financial issues can graduate after five years considering they can skip an academic year to raise the 40% tuition increment. In this case, Powell considers higher education effectiveness a variable that can use graduation rate as a reliable measure. As much as it is a reliable measure, graduation rate does not show the interaction of variables and how they influence the rate.
Massy (2), Kadir (1), and Powell (108) all offer different definitions of effectiveness. Based on specific situations, higher education effectiveness cannot be reduced to a set of measureable inputs with corresponding measurable output. When considering the quality of higher education in the public and private sectors, it is observed that private institutions are better. This is because they have a tradition of personalized service delivery which also makes them charge students more every year than what students are charged in public institutions which do not have personalized service delivery. On the other hand, public institutions are considered more manageable than private institutions because in contrast to the latter which do not depend on government funding and are completely free to deny official directions regarding management, public institutions can be easily managed or controlled by the government as they rely on the government for financial support. These two situations show that the effectiveness of higher education varies from one sector, private or public, and also depends on the strategy employed to achieve an institutional mission. An institution with the mission of being the most admired can invest in infrastructure to offer useful and reliable services such as laboratories, theatres, libraries, and other academic facilities. However, the same institution can be rendered ineffective to students if the sustainability of the quality infrastructure depended on increase cost of tuition.
Productivity, Effectiveness, and Efficiency:
Productivity, effectiveness, and efficiency in higher education is based on how the systems, both private and public, access and deploy resources. Productivity in higher education can be interpreted, based on observations, as the outcome of deploying resources such as equipment, human resource, and time to nurture highly successful students in their respective areas of study. Effectiveness on the other hand, can be interpreted as the ability of an individual or an entity to manage resources in a manner that a certain goal is achieved at any given time using predetermined procedures. For example, in order to produce good performing students, higher education institutions offer services such as online tutoring, virtual databases, physical laboratories, and connections with companies for providing students with internships. However, in order to ensure that the approach is effective, resource management must be employed such that the investments the institutions make, facilitate a measurable outcome on the students’ side. Lastly, the efficiency of higher education depends on the success of workforce and if skills of people after finishing education are properly utilized or not. If people do not get the kind of jobs they dreamed of while studying in an institution, but are merely employed, it means that their skills are not properly utilized.
Based on productivity, effectiveness, and efficiency of higher education sectors, UK is ranked second as of 2012 data. In 2012, UK’s higher education sector generated £5.3 billion in exports, provided 660,000 jobs, and delivered more than £59 billion to the economy (Universities UK, 14). Considering the earlier argument that proper utilization of resources is used in defining productivity, effectiveness, and efficiency of the higher education sector, it is questionable whether UK’s higher education effectiveness deserves the second position rank. Based on resource management and utilization, it is observed that UK higher education institutions do not operate at full capacity and the outcomes described for 2012 do not show effectiveness. The initials, UK, stand for United Kingdom which is made up of four nations; Ireland, England, Scotland, and Wales. Based on the reported output of the UK’s higher education, it is observed that UK’s higher education only undertook 5% of global research as of 2012, produced almost an eighth of world citations, and 14% production of world’s most-cited papers. These findings are significant because they help to explain the nature of higher education effectiveness in the UK. They stress on ineffectiveness of education in the country given how little contribution has been made in the year of 2012 in areas of world citations and cited papers.
Compared to the US higher education system, UK higher education system is less effective based on the number of graduates and degree holders. The US offers 2 and 4-year a higher education degrees. As of 2011, more than 42% of U.S citizens of ages 25 to 34 had both 2 and 4-year degrees (Kanter, para. 8). However, based on OECD Education survey at the same time, the US was ranked 9th in terms of how much of the 25-34 age-group had college and university degrees. This shows that the US and the UK higher education effectiveness is not decided on how effective specific institutions have remained, but rather on grounds of how effective higher education is from a national perspective.
Considering UK’s performance in influencing global research with respect to provision of citations and researches, a 5% contribution is very minimal considering that the number of economies matching that of the UK is limited. With reference to developing regions such as Middle East and Sub-Sahara Africa, contribution in global research is very minimal and in some instances entirely missing. Thus, if developing countries with no facilities or funding to enable higher education research, the UK should have a more effective higher education system based on research than it currently is. Additionally, UK’s higher education contributed 660,000 jobs in 2012. According to BBC (1), UK unemployment rate was 7.7% which is an equivalent of 2.53 million individuals. The contribution of 0.66 million jobs does not concern the high unemployment rate. Although factors such as high-school dropouts may contribute in the number of unemployed in the UK, the rate of unemployment and the position-2 rank in effectiveness does not provide substantial support that UK’s higher education sector is sufficiently effective. It is also not enough to make assumptions about the UK’s higher education based on the rate of unemployment alone. This is because the kinds of jobs which are available for student spost college also decide if higher education is effective or not.
Based on US’s higher education output and the consideration of the number of graduates of between 25 and 34 years, it is observed that the measure of effectiveness is flawed and doesn’t provide substantial room for accurate analysis. Based on Kanter’s criterion of appraising effectiveness, age groups and changes in education systems cannot use graduation rates as measures of effectiveness. According to Powell (108), retention and graduation rates can be used as measures of effectiveness. However, both Kanter (para. 8) and Powell (p. 108) fail to recognize the effect of change and the age of the individual degree holder. If about 42% of citizens aged between 25 and 34 years make US the leading nation in higher education effectiveness, it is a concern that the research in this case did not consider vocational education which is also offered in higher education institutions. Taking this factor into consideration would have affected the findings of this research differently because of the fact that vocational education also heavily contributes to effectiveness of higher education. In addition, the research is not clear regarding the number of foreign students studying in US’s higher education institutions. Thus, as Powell and Kanter perceive effectiveness, it is a valid claim to indicate that the accurate effectiveness of the higher education sector of any particular region or education system is based on all inclusive data such as number of students graduating in any given academic year, the cost of higher education course, the rate of retention, the marketability of the student, and the overall rate of retention and graduation on a year-after-year basis.
Conclusion:
The effectiveness of higher education is influenced by strategic management of input to influence output. The effectiveness of these institutions can be measured through the consideration of how many resources the institution makes available to students to ensure their performance is marketable.
Powell (108) considers higher education effectiveness a variable that can use graduation rate as a reliable measure. As much as it is a reliable measure, graduation rate does not show the interaction of variables and how they influence the rate. However, personal choices in both business organizations and higher education institutions are not considered inputs but they influence outcomes based on the choices.
An institution with the mission of being the most admired can invest in infrastructure to offer useful and reliable services such as laboratories, theatres, libraries, and other academic facilities. However, the same institution can be rendered ineffective to students if the sustainability of the quality infrastructure depended on increase cost of tuition.
The effectiveness of the higher education sector of any particular region or education system is based on all inclusive strategies such as managing the number of students graduating in any given academic year, the cost of courses, the management of the rate of retention, and the marketability of the student in the job market.
Works cited:
BBC. UK unemployment falls to 2.53 million. Accessed online on April 8, 2015 from http://www.bbc.com/news/business-19975719
Kadir, Abd. A Review on the Models of Organizational Effectiveness: A Look at Camerons Model in Higher Education. International Education Studies Vol. 5, No. 2, 2012.
Kanter, Marthar. American Higher Education: “First in the World”. Accessed online on April 8, 2015 from http://www.changemag.org/archives/back%20issues/2011/may-june%202011/first-in-the-world-full.html
Powell, Brett. Expenditures, Efficiency, and Effectiveness in U.S. Undergraduate Higher Education: A National Benchmark Model. The Journal of Higher Education, Vol. 83 No. 1.
The White House. Education: Knowledge and Skills for the Jobs of the Future. Accessed online on April 8, 2015 from https://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/education/k-12/educate-innovate
Universities UK. Efficiency and effectiveness in higher education: A report by the Universities UK Efficiency and Modernization Task Group. Accessed online on April 8, 2015 from http://www.universitiesuk.ac.uk/highereducation/Documents/2011/EfficiencyinHigherEducation.pdf Read More
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