I am curious how different universities evaluate their performance. I am curious to know if there is a standardized (or even just generally accepted) set of metrics that universities use to rate their performance or to determine if their college is succeeding ("succeed" being a very open term here and likely varying between institutions).

  • What does it mean for a university to perform well? (High graduation rates? Low dropout rates? High endowment? High fill rates for their classes?) Is this even a well defined question?
  • What sort of metrics do universities typically use to evaluate themselves?

I keep mentioning universities but knowing how two year colleges approach the problem is also interesting (I'm less interested in the primary/secondary schools). The question is also not location specific and might even be more intriguing to see how non-US universities measure themselves.

1 Answer 1


The strategy of my UK university seems to be to improve on all available metrics that do not require them to spend more money. At our most recent faculty meeting we were told that we needed to simultaneously increase our student numbers, increase our admissions standards, increase the number of contact hours, and decrease our average class size. They also pointed out that we should also strive to increase our grant capture and publication rates.

I think from an inward facing perspective universities evaluate academic staff on on whatever makes them look the weakest, while from an outward facing perspective they evaluate themselves on whatever makes them look strongest.

  • Interesting. I suspect many US universities are guilty of the same behavior. Thank you for your answer.
    – Kyle S.
    Sep 27, 2014 at 4:32

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