Conference Overview

“Measuring excellence”, and related approaches, is a topic of global interest for Higher Education (HE) and its surrounding context. The HEIR Call for Submissions is wide in scope to be inclusive of all contributors, taking into account both wider political dimensions and imperatives.

Firstly, the political driver to prioritise measurements of particular types needs to be approached critically, in order to address many challenges that emerge. For example, if measures of excellence are being imposed on the Higher Education (HE) Sector, how does this also impact on the Further Education (FE) Sector, including adults, part-time and non-standard learners?

Secondly, organisations who are a step removed from the political decisions to introduce measurements, such as the media (including for example: Guardian and Times Higher Education league tables, international and green league tables, amongst others) are contributors to this debate and need to be a part of these discussions.

Thirdly, digital advances have enabled multiple forms of data to be captured on the key activities of students and staff within, and beyond, university life. As such, many institutions across the world are now seeking routes to gather ‘evidence’ and insights, through data, to address common issues, improve student experiences and meet future challenges. A key question to keep in mind though is whether measuring excellence supports evidence-based policymaking or policy-based evidence making.

In the UK HE Sector three main “measures of excellence” now exist for universities to work with. Though some are more recent than others, these are the:

Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), Research Excellence Framework (REF), and  Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF). Whilst each of these is applicable to a particular aspect of HE, in practice, individuals in universities often interact across more than one of these frameworks, We would like to hear how international perspectives on ‘measuring excellence’ are developing and how they may differ so that we can grow our shared understanding on questions like:

  • Is it even possible to ‘measure excellence’ in a robust way?
  • How have people sought to measure excellence over the years in different contexts/systems?
  • What are the positive and negative consequences of doing so?
  • What are the relative measures of excellence in your jurisdiction?
  • How do we know that we are measuring what we mean to measure?

Alongside technical advances there are critical and philosophical questions that go hand-in-hand with ‘measuring excellence’ in the challenging contemporary HE and related FE context. Debates include the complexities of the actual data we collect (whether quantitative or qualitative), how it is gathered technically, ethically, and the metrics, analytics or intelligent campus it serves. Intersecting with such discussions are related educational, research and policy questions connecting with wider society, political economy and social justice.

HEIR2019 presents an open invitation to come and critically discuss approaches to ‘measuring excellence’, whatever your area of specialism or interest. In the , you will find three broad themes to choose from:

  1. Defining and ‘measuring excellence’
  2. Critical learning and teaching environments
  3. Accountability, inclusivity & sustainability

The traditional matters that have always been topical for the HEIR network, such as: data, student and teacher experiences, and research policy engagement and development are present across all the themes. These themes are intended to enrich each talk, workshop or poster presentation with interdisciplinary and cross-professional discussions/understandings. 

 Who should attend

 “Measuring Excellence” in Higher Education: Approaches and their Impact will appeal to students, teachers, researchers, managers, data practitioners and institutional experts, quality professionals, educational developers, policy makers, digital service specialists, consultants, and all who share an interest in the future of education. As such, HEIR2019 will bring together a wide and inclusive community. Whatever your role, you are invited to submit an Abstract for a paper, poster or workshop on current viewpoints, approaches (theoretical, qualitative, quantitative or mixed methods), research, or data that impact your area of focus, with a view towards informing and supporting HE institutional decision-making.


Abstracts of no more than 400 words and a short bio of 100 words should be submitted by 26 April 2019