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ERIC Number: EJ1094143
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Jul
Pages: 14
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-1443-2110
Institutional Research in Australasia: Coming of Age or Coming Unstuck?
Hanlon, Martin; Rothery, Michael; Daldy, Rob
Journal of Institutional Research, v16 n1 p11-24 Jul 2011
The scope of institutional research (IR) undertaken in Australasian universities is progressively expanding. A traditional focus on student life cycle elements such as enrolment, retention and satisfaction has been complemented for some years now by other areas of focus including research performance and community engagement. More recently, university rankings and national policy-driven topics such as academic standards have joined the agenda. In Australia, performance-based funding for student outcomes has been introduced, to be joined by deregulation of the student market from 2012. In New Zealand, the reform agenda is more progressed in some respects, with the introduction of student demand-driven funding in the 1990s. Reasons for this broadening IR agenda in both countries include increased competitive pressures within the higher education sector, increased external scrutiny of institutions by regulators, funding bodies and rating agencies, and the development of more comprehensive performance indicator frameworks, both within institutions and by governments. At first pass, this menu of research topics and drivers might suggest that IR in Australasia has indeed "come of age". While this is clearly the case in terms of relevance, it is contestable whether this is also the case in terms of maturity and capacity: it is in this regard that practitioners risk "coming unstuck" (a reference to the theme of the AAIR 2010 Forum). This article explores these issues drawing on the experiences of two Australasian universities, one from each side of the Tasman Sea. The authors suggest that three types of factors--structural, process and cultural--influence the ability of institutions to maintain a sustainable and effective IR function and to undertake proactive analysis. They conclude that there is a range of tools now available to practitioners and leaders to allow their institutions to adjust to the new realities of the higher education sector. These tools point to a sustainable operating model for the future, focused on supporting strategic agenda-setting rather than conducting historical analysis. [This paper was first presented at the Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Institutional Research, "Has institutional research come of age in Australia?," in Geelong, 10-12 November 2010.]
Australasian Association for Institutional Research. 546 Gallymont Road, Mandurama, NSW 2792, Australia. +61-2-6367-5347; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Australia; New Zealand
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A