By Zohar Ben-Asher

In the last decade or so the international ranking of academic institutions has gained strength and it is now considered a highly important way to determine Institutional academic & scientific excellence. Indeed, it is now commonly accepted that the academic level of excellence is reflected in the position of the institution in the international ranking (e.g., the ARWU, THE, QS, etc.). This, in turn, helps enhancing such excellence. It is highly important for every university and research organisation in their quest to uphold and advance their excellence in research (and teaching), to appeal to outstanding and international researchers and students and – not less important – to enhance their capabilities for attracting funds for research and further scientific development of the organisation and its staff.

The work to achieve this goal and the objective therein can be described as comprising of three components that should be employed at any level of the organisation – the organisation as a whole (University, Research Centre, etc.); its basic sections (Faculty, Institute, etc.); and its primary entities (Department, Sections, etc.), according to the goals of each of these units. These components should tackle: a) academic performance of both staff and organisation; b) revenue Increase; and design and implementation of efficient supporting structure based on dedicated strategic plan.

 The first component consists of staff performance assessment which begins with mapping of current staff performance and creating mechanism for on-going systematic evaluation that can substantiate recommendations for promotion or demotion of staff members – as well as for setting of  performance-link rewards policy based on and resulting from their overall performance (academic & teaching performance, research capabilities & achievements, grant attractiveness, rate & hosting of publications, citation rate, international networking & collaboration, internal funding rate, supervision of research, etc.).

 Overall performance assessment of the organisation is also done, coupled with performance evaluation of each of the institutional units (faculties, departments, sections, etc.), including examination of the overall scientific achievements, career development policies and practice, teaching and instruction, gender and age distribution, financial performance, degrees (both offered currently and potentially new ones – e.g., executive degrees; education; curricula and training time-lines – e.g., study periods: semesters, quarters, summer sessions, etc.; and organisational support available for the scientific work. Functional evaluation of administrative efficiency follows, including assessment of the administrative units’ contribution to the scientific and research excellence & international standing and examination of the efficiency of the financial management aimed at the encouragement of the scientific and research work. The work here will also help in assessing staff harmonisation, including gender & age distribution.

 Another facet of such a programme is the institutional revenue Increase that can ensue: Analysing current sources of income will enable the setting of specific schemes to increase revenue through the selling of instruction/teaching & other profitable activities (e.g., consultancies), coupled with enhancement of professional & research activities of the organisation and its members (e.g., executive degrees and/or higher degrees for both domestic & international students, setting collaborative degree & diploma programmes for identified audiences, etc.). This has to be complemented by designing of new products and new schemes to better diversify services that can be offered to growing variety of potential “clientele” (e.g., Laboratory services, renting out use-time of instruments which are not fully exploited by the organisation – e.g., electron microscopy, exploitation programme for technologies developed by the University, etc.). Also, developing marketable programmes based on the institutional professional capabilities for sale to external entities (e.g., governmental & parliamentary organisations, commissions & agencies, industrial organisations, etc.) can now be possible. Finally, the programme can enhance successful participation in internationally funded projects (e.g., Horizon 2020, NIH, DoD, NATO for Peace, World Bank & UN enterprises, etc.) and, of course, in nationally or otherwise funded projects.

For more information, please go to the Strategy for Universities Section.