GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

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Higher Education Databases and International Branch Campuses: Lessons and Opportunities in the GCC
Paper Proposal Text :
The inherent challenge within the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is that there are no common data sets or common definitions. While there are several instances of data collection from higher education providers, the requests are often differentially repetitive and are not shared across institutions or between regulators. For example, in the last year, an Australian branch campus located in the UAE, submitted data in response to requests from five organizations. However, since the data requests are designed for use largely by the requesting parties, there is little consistency between the data definitions and categories. Moreover the data categories are often not aligned with global best practices or branch campus requirements resulting in the inability of the branch campus to benchmark itself with the home campus and/or other branch campus institutions. In addition, the submitting institution is often limited in its ability to use the data collected. This highlights two fundamental characteristics that can be improved resulting in better institutional strategic planning and valuable use of these databases:
1. The opportunity to strengthen the relationship between the regulatory agencies that operate the databases and the institutions that supply the data
Institutional data can have a broader purpose than the oversight of the sector by government and other collectors of these data; in fact the institutions can use the compiled analyses to benchmark and ultimately improve their planning and assessment activities if they are given access to a large-scale data source that contains consistent categories. An example of this at a limited scale is TECOM’s Education Cluster Annual Report. Findings from this can be used by the international branch campuses located in Dubai Knowledge Village and Dubai International Academic City to gauge various indicators against peers in the same catchment area. In particular, this data provides valuable regional benchmarking data to the branch and home campus regarding student and staff mobility, performance and financial expectations
2. The advantage of large-scale projects that are linked by identical definitions and measurement tools
For the public sector and accrediting agencies, common data sets expand potential comparisons of institutions within their regulatory jurisdictions to compare and benchmark with external sets of institutions. This comparison to external peer sets has a significant potential for guiding policymaking within a given jurisdiction in terms of sectoral development and understanding institutional variation
As a final note, the authors argue that the development of a regional database in the GCC along the lines of the Common Data Set in the United States featuring open access to data would benefit the regulatory agencies, government guidance of the sector, the institutions participating in the region covered by the database, and allow increased accuracy by foreign providers seeking entry into the market.