The application of university classification for developing higher education institute performance indicators




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THE APPLICATION OF UNIVERSITY CLASSIFICATION FOR DEVELOPING HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTE PERFORMANCE INDICATORS


Suphattra Ketsarapong*, Kasetsart University, Thailand

suphattra.ke@spu.ac.th, *corresponding author


Kongkiti Phusavat, Kasetsart University, Thailand

fengkkp@ku.ac.th


ABSTRACT


This paper aims to demonstrate the Thailand Higher Education Classification Model (THEC- Model) based on research performance, and to compare the results of it with the university classification by the Office of the Higher Education Commission(OHEC) whereby universities can be classified as National Research Universities (NRUs).The classification, conducted by using empirical data and a statistical approach, was initiated to develop the THEC-model as a multi-dimensional classification and to link the classifications to rankings. The results of the hypothesis test showed that the criteria in four classification dimensions included; (1) Research funding, (2) Instructional programmes and curriculums, (3) Instructors and research staff body, (4) Student body. These criteria have influenced the research performance in three dimensions; (1) research output (2) citations, and (3) research awards. It was found that six universities were classified as NRUs, and this result is consistent with the classification by OHEC. The findings provide important information, for example, classification criteria, outstanding and disadvantageous criteria would enable the policy-makers to manage higher education effectively to elevate universities to become word-class, and increase competitiveness.


Keywords: Higher Education Classification; National Research University; Performance Indicators; Management in Education; Thailand University; global competitiveness


Introduction


Schwab (2009) stated that two fundamental factors are crucial to enhance long-term competitiveness and sustainable development. One is ‘higher education and training’ which is important to propel efficiency-driven economics. Another is ‘innovation’ which is necessary to drive the economy progressively. This is consistent with Schultz (1961); Lucas (1988);Becker (1993); Hedin et al., (2005); Burke et al.,(2009); and Ramoniene and Lanskoronskis (2011) who stated that ‘higher education and training’is vital to any country because firstly, it increases the value chain beyond simple production processes and products; secondly, it produces well-trained workers who are adaptable in changing environments; and lastly, it produces a healthy workforce which has the potential to improve national productivity and competitiveness. In addition, Romer (1990); Grossman and Helpman (1991); and Aghion and Howitt (1992) stated that the standard of living in the long run can be improved by innovation. Ramoniene and Lanskoronskis (2011) added that innovation could result from the higher education system. Similarly, innovation may not occur without high quality scientific research institutions, a highly skilled workforce including scientists and engineers, and sufficient research and development (R&D) investment.


The situation mentioned above has led many countries and governments to recognize and drive ‘research universities’ as essential for improving competitiveness and bringing forth sustainability in countries (Liu and Cheng, 2005; and Deem et al., 2008). Furthermore, Lee et al., (2007) stated that organizational flexibility, long-term enterprise development, and a country’s competitiveness depend primarily on graduates and university education. Consistent with the Commission on Higher Education or (CHE) under the Ministry of Education in Thailand1, the Scopus International Database indicated that between 2004 and 2008 over 90% of research stemmed from universities, indicating that the university is the largest source of research and researchers in a country.


However, in Thailand, there are almost 200 public and private accredited universities. The number of universities has doubled over the past decade.This has resulted in greater diversity and more complexity in the higher education system. Four major factors2 have impacted the higher education system, including (1) politics, for example, decentralization and local administration, (2) economics, for example, autonomous universities, and globalization, (3) society and demography, for example, a reduction in population, life-long learning, social networking, retirement, and lastly (4) technology, for example, e-learning. As a result, the question how to classify and evaluate the university as a “research university” is raised. Several researchers, for example, Amano and Chen (2004); McCormick and Zhao (2005); Liu and Liu (2005); Phusavat and Chansa-ngaveg (2007); Phusavat (2008); Bartelse and van Vught (2009); and Shin (2009), reported that higher education classification has become a crucial strategy to deal with diversity in the higher education system because it allows us to understand the nature and characteristics of HEIs under the same criteria and parameters. At the same time, a ranking system allows a HEI to reflect on estimated quality and recognition, especially in the research dimension.


Under the crucial role of the higher education system that has influenced competitiveness, the research question is how the HEIs should be classified on a research basis to improve research competency, which is fundamental to enhance global competitiveness. To answer the research question, this paper primarily aims to develop the THEC-Model based on research dimensions that are useful for classifying the research university.


Background


This section describes the following three areas of the background. Firstly, HEI classification is analyzed in terms of the criteria and parameters used to classify the research university. Secondly, HEI ranking is employed to analyze the criteria and parameters used to evaluate the research dimension, and lastly, the NRU classification is used to compare the outcomes of the developed THEC- Model and the NRU classification by OHEC. The detail is shown below:


Higher education classification


According to Bailey (1994), classification is an organizing or grouping process where the same properties are grouped together. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching (CFAT)3stated that HEI classification in educational terms is employed to recognize the similarities and differences for individual institutions under the required criteria and parameters. This is consistent with McCormick (2008) who stated that classification is more likely to identify the similarities and differences of HEIs than the ranking of HEIs.The result is that classification fails to reflect university quality and recognition, and only identifies the nature and characteristics of the university (Phusavat and Chansa-ngavej, 2007). HEI classification has been popular worldwide, particularly in the U.S.A. where CFAT has been in practice for over three decades. Subsequently, it has been used as a basic framework for HEI classification in many countries, for example, the Chinese HEIs by Liu and Liu (2005), the European HEIs by Bartelse and van Vught (2009), and Thailand’s HEIs by Phusavat (2008). The detail of higher education classification is as follows:


The US Higher education classification system by CFAT


The US higher education classification system by CFAT4 was initiated in 1973, and there have been many revisions since in 1976, 1976, 1994, 2000, 2005, and most recently in 2010, so that it could be employed consistently with changing situations and the greater complexity and diversity of U.S.A.’s HEIs. Changes have occurred in the labels used, definitions, and technical parts. However, the core HEI classification remains the same, based on the research and teaching objectives, the degrees offered, the number of comprehensive programs and size.


Research-based HEI classification demonstrated that all of the versions of the US higher education classification system focus on the research dimension. In the1976 version, the dimension based on research was categorized into C1 under the name “C1: Doctoral-Granting Institutions”, and was subdivided into four subcategories (SC) including SC1: Research Universities I (implying that 50 or more doctoral degrees awarded and received annually $40 million or more in federal support.), SC2: Research Universities II (implying that 50 or more doctoral degrees awarded and received between $15 million and $40 million per year.), SC3: Doctoral-Granting Universities I (implying that at least 40 doctoral degrees annually awarded in five or more disciplines.); and SC4: Doctoral-Granting Universities II(implying that at least ten doctoral degrees awarded in three or more disciplines or 20 or more doctorates per year total). In the 1994 version, four subcategories were re-categorized into four major categories which highlighted the research dimension. The 2000 version, which also focused on the research dimension, was divided into two categories; C1: Doctoral/Research Universities Extensive (implying that 50 or more doctoral degrees per year awarded across at least 15 disciplines) andC2: Doctoral/Research Universities Intensive (implying that at least 10 doctoral degrees per year awarded across three or more disciplines, or at least 20 doctoral degrees per year overall).


A significant comprehensive overhaul5 was the result of the 2005 version of the US higher education classification, namely, single classification was replaced by multiple classifications. The previous single classification was updated and renamed “Basic Classification” which became a set of multiple classifications in the 2005 version. Not only the research dimension, but also a multi-measure research index was established. The research-focused area was categorized into C2 (Doctorate-Granting Universities) in ‘Basic Classification’, implying at least 20 research doctoral degrees awarded during the update year. In addition, C2 was subdivided into 3 subcategories (SC) including SC1: Very High Research Universities (RU/VH), SC2: High Research Universities (RU/H), and SC3: Doctoral/Research Universities (DRU). Research activity-based subcategories involved research & development (R&D) expenditure in science and engineering (S&E); R&D expenditure in non S&E fields; S&E research staff; doctoral conferrals in humanities fields, in social science fields, in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields, and others (e.g., business, education, public policy, social work). Moreover, like the 2005 version, the 2010 version values the research dimension, and also gives significance to educational management under the ‘Community Engagement Classification’.


The Chinese higher education classification system


Liu (2007) and Ma (2004) stated that the HEI classification in China was of interest to the government, HEIs, and the academic community. The Chinese HEI classification was based on work by Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU)6 and by Liu and Liu (2005), both placing significance on the research dimension. The former is based on student profile, consisting of two categories; C1: universities with an engineering or technology orientation (implying that over one-third of all graduate students enrolled in engineering fields) and C2: universities with a medical orientation (implying that over one-third of all graduate students enrolled in medical fields) while the later, which is also based on the research dimension, was categorized into C1, which consisted of the following two subcategories; SC1: Research Universities I, and SC2: Research Universities II , where the criteria are the following; (1) Number of doctoral degrees in excess of 193. (2) Ratio between doctoral and baccalaureate degrees more than 0.09 for SC1 and between 0.06 and 0.09 for SC2 (3); the amount of government research funding over 44 million Yuan., and (4) the number of SCIE and SSCI articles per capita (at least 0.7).


European higher education classification system


Bartelse and van Vught (2009) stated that the establishment of the European higher education classification was to satisfy the five following stakeholders: students, HEIs, businesses and industries, policymakers, and researchers. It consisted of four phases: Phase 1 to develop the conceptual model and set dimensions and indicators; Phase 2 to test the classification model developed following phase 1; and Phase 3 and 4 to conduct analysis and fine-tuning which was in-process during phase 1 and was taken into consideration in this paper. Bartelse and van Vught (2009) grouped the HEIs into five categories and 14 dimensions. The research-focused group was categorized into C2: Research and Innovation, consisted of 2 dimensions with measurement criteria for each dimension as follows: D5: Research intensiveness has two criteria:(1) Number of peer reviewed publications per FTE academic staff and (2) The ISI based citation indicator, normalized per field, also known as the “crown indicator”. D6: Innovation intensiveness has four criteria: (1) Number of start-up firms, (2) Number of patent applications filed, (3) Annual licensing income, and (4) Revenues from privately funded research contracts as a percentage of total research revenues.


Thailand’s higher education classification


In 2006, the HEI classification was applied to Thailand HEIs by the Office for National Education Standards and Quality Assessment (ONESQA)7, aiming to evaluate external quality assurance at the second round between 2006 and 2010 to see whether and how much HEI operation was executed consistently with the mission. Consequently, the HEI operations were carried out in accordance with the core HEI mission and were divided into four categories:(1) university focusing on graduate production and research, (2) university focusing on graduate production and social development, (3) university focusing on graduate production and art and cultural development, and (4) university focusing on graduate production only.


In 2008, the Ministry of Education divided the HEIs into four categories; including C1:community college, C2: baccalaureate colleges, C3: specialized institutions which consisted of two sub categories (SC) as follows: SC1 universities focusing on graduate degrees , and SC2 universities focusing on undergraduate degrees , and lastly C4: advanced research universities, and doctoral universities, resulting in the ONESQA changing higher educational classification in the light of the external quality assessment for the third round (2011-2015) in accordance with the Ministry of Education’s announcement. However, C1 added two subcategories, including SC1 graduate production and research-based university, and SC2 graduate production and social development-based university.


The outcomes of HEI revision by the ONESQA showed that all versions of HEI classification have focused on the research dimension, but no specific criteria have been defined, just the broad scope is provided so that each institute can choose the HEI classification in accordance with its philosophy, goal, and mission. One more important issue is that HEI classification by ONESQA has followed the Framework of the Second 15-Year Long Range Plan on Higher Education in Thailand)8( 2008-2023), ONESQA’s classification of research university and graduate university have been outlined with the following scope, (1) it focuses on research-based postgraduate programs, doctorate programs and post-doctorate programs, (2) it is located in the capital and cities, (3) 100% doctorate professionals (4) Science and Technology students and Social Sciences students ratio (90:10). This kind of university has a mission and role on national competitiveness; the graduates are expected to be global prime movers and cognitive leaders.

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