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27 of the Best University KPIs and Metric Examples for Reporting

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July 2, 2023

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What are University KPIs?

A university key performance indicator (KPI) is a performance analyzer used to evaluate the competition between universities. They are often used to get a bird’s eye view of performance and are also known as metrics.

University KPIs are the tools that many universities use to measure their success and progress towards their goals. University KPIs and metrics will help these education institutions direct their policy formulation and target setting. For many universities, KPIs are mandatory, especially for higher education places that wish to participate in federal student funding programs. This is to ensure a direct comparison between institutions is always possible.

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KPIs have been particularly essential for universities over the past couple years with global events causing fluctuations in enrollment. Those without KPIs are left without any valuable statistics, while those with established performance tracking dashboards are able to make data driven decisions. This article will cover a large number of different university KPIs, but mainly focus on financial university KPIs and staff & student university KPIs.

Finance-Related KPI Examples for Universities

There are a wide range of financial KPIs for schools that can be utilized to provide a coherent financial overview as well as valuable information for future resource planning. Here are eight of the best financial KPIs for schools to evaluate their fiscal performance:

1. Funding and Donations: A surprisingly large portion of a university’s budget is made up of government funding, grants, and alumni donations. As such, it is very important to track this financial KPI and use predictive analysis to help with annual budgeting. To make even more use of this KPI, data should be collected to see if there are any regular donors, and which program they graduated from.

2. Staff Cost as a Percent of Total Cost: It takes a lot of staff to run a university. This university KPI examines the amount of money being spent on staff as a percentage of the total annual budget. It is important to keep salaries competitive to ensure your university is able to attract talented faculty members with promising research.

Staff Cost Ratio = Total Cost of Staff / Total Annual Budget

3. Administrative Costs per Student: How much is your school currently spending on each student, and where is this money coming from? It is important to determine exactly how much it “costs” the university to have a student attend it courses, whether it be on a per course basis or an aggregated full-time student course load.

Admin Costs per Student = Cost to Fund Entire Cohort / Aggregate Number of Full-Time Students

4. Location Rates: It is very interesting to visualize where all your students are coming from. This information can be used to provide insightful financial forecasting for the accounting department. Universities/colleges have different tuition rates for “in-state” and “out-of-state” students (which also includes international students). By understanding where the majority of your students are coming from, and incorporating growth forecasts, a university can reliably predict how much they will collect in tuition each year.

5. Avg. Teacher Salary: How much does the average teacher earn? How much does the average teacher in a particular teaching category (e.g. science or technology) earn? Collect data from a wide range of sources and average them to obtain this KPI. To make things more precise the average salary per teacher in each category could be averaged, alongside other information such as years of experience, gender, ethnicity, and level of education. A comparison could be then taken to determine whether there is any trace of sexual/racial bias – linking to inclusivity, another important KPI.

Avg. Teacher Salary = Total Payment to Teachers /Number of Teachers

6. Tuition Costs: How much does the average student pay for tuition? When calculating this KPI you should consider scholarships, any fees paid by the government, and student loans for a more accurate rate. Depending on the amount of money that your school requires to function (and hopefully leave a profit), your institution should adjust tuition costs every year.

7. Scholarship Costs: It is important to monitor the cost of scholarships and the different types of scholarships available for every subject. An annual review should be conducted to evaluate the sustainability of your college/university’s scholarship fund, and if it needs to be topped up.

8. Net Profit Margin: It might seem surprising that an institution of higher learning would be concerned with something business oriented like net profit margin, but a university still needs to remain profitable to continue operating.

Net Profit Margin = (Revenue – Cost) / Revenue

Now that you are familiar with the financial metrics a university should be tracking with a dashboard, let’s look at what makes a good university KPI. It is important to remember that quality is more important than quantity when it comes to KPIs.

What is Needed for an Insightful University KPI?

Setting up an insightful university KPI system requires three main components: effective data collection, an automated process, and realistic goals. Without these three components, your KPI system will create more of a burden than a benefit.

Effective Data Collection
The most important aspect of good education KPIs lies in effective data collection. Without accurate and effective data collection from a wide variety of students across the cohort, your KPI may be unreliable and incoherent.

To make your KPI more reliable, you should aim to collect data from every single student and store this data somewhere, either in a spreadsheet or inside a KPI dashboards.

Unreliable KPI data collection also lies within corrupt universities, which may fake their KPI data for a better reputation. However, doing so goes against several laws and this is normally not the case.

An Automated Process
If you want to save time and stay ahead of the curve, an automated process is something you should implement. Before the digital age, KPIs were collected in ledger books and other documents, which was a tiring and lengthy process.

In 2021, the best way of collecting good KPIs is to implement a higher education dashboard, which can give you a glimpse of the best KPIs without the lengthy paperwork process.

Accurate and Realistic Goals
Data collection is something that takes a long time and is accumulated gradually. For good education KPIs, a plethora of data, collected over a long period, is required. As such, you should aim to set accurate and realistic goals depending on how many people are amassing the KPIs.

Now that you have a general idea of what a KPI system requires, let’s take a look at KPIs related to staff and students.

Teacher & Student – related KPI Examples for Universities

Education KPIs are essential for determining the overall wellbeing of your university. Here are some of the most important teacher and student related KPI examples for universities:

9. Teacher Retention: Teacher retention is one of the KPIs that will take a long time to accumulate. This KPI is tracked by keeping a record of the start and finish date of each teacher in the system and determining the average. This KPI won’t be reliable during the first couple of years but will eventually begin to show more accurate trends over time.

Teacher Retention (avg. years) = Sum of all Faculty Member Tenures / Number of Faculty Members

10. Transfer Rates: Which schools are your students coming from? And if they’re leaving, which schools are they transferring to? Are there any benefits that other schools offer that might be the cause of the students leaving your institution? and does your institution have the capacity to offer these? Analyzing this KPI might increase student retention.

Transfer Rate = Number of Students Transferring / Total Cohort

11. Student-to-Teacher Ratio: How many students on average are there per teacher? Is this figure significantly higher for some courses than others, perhaps due to an imbalance in the expected number of applicants for that particular course? This university metric is often used to determine which departments require more staff, and which departments might be subject to staffing cuts. It can also be used as a metric for the quality of education. Everyone knows that smaller class sizes result in better student engagement–which in turn equates to better learning.

Student-to-Teacher Ratio = Number of Students / Number of Teachers

12. Satisfaction Rates for Academic Staff: The wellbeing of academic staff is important as it directly influences student results; therefore, it’s crucial to record the satisfaction rates of the academic staff. This can be done by sending out a survey once or twice a semester to track the overall satisfaction of teachers. This KPI is best used in conjunction with the Teacher Retention KPI to gain proper insight.

13. Student Satisfaction with Staff Performance: This is another useful KPI as low student satisfaction with staff may be related to other performance areas, such as poor student performance and high dropout rates. Collect this KPI by distributing a “student satisfaction survey” to all enrolled at the school.

14. Percentage of Staff with Advanced Certifications/Degrees: What percentage of your teaching staff have obtained advanced certifications or degrees? This is a question that can reveal a glimpse into the “prestige” of a university, but should not be relied on alone as a measure of the institution’s quality. Other university key performance indicators such as student-teacher engagement and student satisfaction are more important to consider.

15. Graduation Rates: Graduation rates for each program and the associated dropout rate KPIs will help you understand the difficulty of each program, with a higher graduation rate indicating a relatively easier program. This sort of KPI, used in conjunction with repeat rate KPIs, will give you an insight into the effectiveness of teaching and learning within your university classes.

Graduation Rate = Students who Graduate / Entire cohort

16. Student Performance: What are your students inside a particular course scoring on average during exams? What do they go on to do after graduation? As students make up the very backbone of institutions this is one of the most important university key performance indicators to track.

Ideally, keep track of your students post-graduation to see where their studies have led them in life. One way to keep student performance KPIs would be to track their income in their first jobs after graduation.

17. Completion Rates: The completion rates will give you a better insight into how difficult a course is. Compiled with socioeconomic fees and scholarship rates for each subject, an overview of why a course doesn’t have a very high completion rate could be found. As completion rates can depend on a lot of things it’s always important to consider other KPIs in association before drawing any conclusions.

18. Repeat Rates: Repeat rates, unlike completion rates, indicate the percentage of students who had to repeat a course to graduate. The reason behind the repeat rates (including a large number of absences, poor time management, etc.) could be included inside the KPI for a more insightful report.

Repeat Rate: Number of Students Repeating Course / Number of Students in Course

Now that we have gone through quite a few university KPIs, we should talk about how you are going to manage all this data. While it can be done manually using Excel, there is a much more elegant solution–a KPI dashboard.

Why You Should Use a KPI Dashboard/Reporting Software

KPIs are all linked to each other, which is why university KPI dashboard/reporting software solutions are so important. Using business intelligence software can enable you to see everything as a part of a larger picture rather than isolated numbers.

KPI Dashboards Cluster all the Insightful Data in One Place
With KPIs, there will be a couple of overarching topics that make the most difference in your overall picture. KPI reporting software enables you to group these KPIs at the very top and have the rest as branches stemming from these key KPIs, which make your long list of KPI data much easier to read.

Teamwork and Collaborations
KPI dashboards ensure that there is a uniform set of data for teamwork and collaborations to be held on. Everyone has access to the same centralized data. This means that no one is working on outdated data.

Help Set Clear-Cut Goals
To help develop your goals you could take a look at your KPIs and determine which ones need more improvement. For example, if you aim to increase the level of funding for a particular course you could observe the KPIs associated with relations and funding so you can work on these areas of improvement.

Transparency Around Performance
KPI dashboards give your business managers and the heads of your university/college real-time updates. This means that no one is hiding data that shows poor performance. Everything is out in the open to help managers make informed decisions.

Staff Motivation
Being able to see your performance or your impact is a major motivator for many individuals. By allowing all the teaching staff to have access to performance related KPIs, you will likely see an increase in staff effort. This is a lesser reason as to why one should use key performance indicators for colleges but a reason that could be applied regardless.

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Other KPI Examples for Universities

19. Alumni Engagement Index: Measuring how engaged your alumni are in activities out of campus will give potential stakeholders an idea of student participation. What alumni engagement signifies for each institution will vary but as a general guide, good things to consider are event attendance, volunteering work, and donations.

20. Foreign Student Rate: What percentage of the students at your university are foreign? Furthermore, have any of them said that they’ve experienced discrimination? Evaluating the inclusivity of your university could be done by adding a question to the student survey and asking if they’ve faced any acts of discrimination for being from a foreign country.

Foreign Students Rate = Foreign Students / Entire Cohort

21. Alumni Event Rates: How many alumni participate in meetups? How many of them are engaged within your college/university’s community? Alumni event rates help gauge the strength of your out-of-school community. Measure the rate of alumni who come back to participate in events for this KPI.

22. Average Time to Degree: How long on average does a typical student at your university take to progress to a degree? A longer average time to degree indicates course difficulty or a lack of clarity in the process (amongst a range of other external factors). When considering this KPI remember accelerated programs, which may shorten the time to degree by a year (or a couple of years).

Average Time to Degree = Sum of Time to Degree For All Students / Number of Students

23. Year-Over-Year Enrolment: Capture this data in the school management system so that the forecasted numbers are up to date. A lower than average year-over-year enrolment may be the cause of a variety of other external factors, including a bad reputation and/or financial implications.

24. Sustainability: A KPI that’s becoming increasingly more important in our world is sustainability. Sustainability could be broken down into further sub-categories, for example, the carbon footprint or the water footprint. Another fun way of tracking sustainability would be to be well aware of the current sustainable practices on campus (e.g. solar panels…) and brainstorm which ones could be implemented not only for a better image of the school but also for the environment.

25. Research Income: Research income refers to the outcome of your research programs–where has the research of the students or professors led them to? Have there been any collaborative research awards, research grants, sources of funding–if so, how much? Furthermore, what percent of offers were successful, and how many supervisors were there?

26. Number of Publications Per Academic Staff: This serves as a set of data that will inform you on the research output of a university as a percentage. It could also be an indication of the effectiveness of your university in conducting relevant and useful research.

Publications per Academic Staff = Number of Publications / Academic Staff

27. Inclusivity: For a better university, inclusivity is of prime importance. Racial or sexual bias within a university can damage your school’s reputation and make it difficult to recover; therefore, make sure that your students are aware of the consequences of hate speech. Inclusivity university key performance indicators can be collected through a student/teacher survey and an additional table of “incidents” could be created to portray how inclusive your university is.

We hope this article assisted you in finding the best university KPIs and metric examples for 2021 reporting. In this article, a wide range of KPIs that could assist your organization in any form were discussed in sub-categories concerning finances, students, teachers, and other miscellaneous categories.

The fundamentals of a good KPI and why you should use a university key performance indicators dashboard software were also covered to maximize the profit and wellbeing that your university gains. KPI dashboards, or reporting software, are a highly useful tool that can aid your institution greatly with the grueling task of collecting a mountain of data to analyze. If you’re considering a financial reporting tool and don’t know where to start, here are five things not to do when choosing a financial reporting tool.

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