Several analyses point to an increasing isomorphism in national higher education policies and attribute this to an increasing institutional orientation to international rankings and metrics. It is undeniable that national higher education policies have had a significant impact on institutional and individual practices over the years. Therefore, there is value to a comparative approach in recognition of the different national policy contexts which further mediate institutional and individual responses to metrics to better understand how we can generate positive institutional and individual outcomes in the current metrics driven environment.
Therefore, for the purpose of this study we intend to compare the impact of various teaching and research metrics in two countries, England and Germany. The comparison between the two countries is appropriate considering the differences in their approaches to metrics. The English HE context is under increasing influence of various metrics. The REF is acknowledged as the driver of institutional and individual research agendas. Over the last two years, the pedagogical sibling of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) is increasingly influencing the teaching agendas of institutions. On the contrary, historically Germany has not favoured the vertical differentiation of universities by any kind of metrics driven agendas. However, the recent Excellence Initiative, a competitive funding scheme emphasising research concentration, is seen as reflective of increasing concern with international metrics. This comparative study will examine differences in the influence of institutional and individual research and teaching practices in England where metrics-driven agendas are well established and Germany, which has only just entered this arena. The study will help to illuminate the individual and institutional impacts of the two environments where metrics vary in pervasiveness with the hope that lessons can be learned as to how professional practices can be recalibrated as academics face these changing contexts.
The study uses a sequential mixed-methods approach involving an online survey and interviews. Firstly, the survey will determine the parameters affecting the views on academics on the impact of
metrics on their individual and institutional practices and their notional merits/demerits. Sociodemographic data such as gender, age, length of HE experience, type of HEI, their disciplinary area and the nature of employment contract, adds valuable context to the analysis. Additionally, qualitative data will be collected using open-ended questions on the different kinds of institutional, national and international metrics and of these which ones they find helpful/unhelpful in promoting quality of various institutional and individual practices. Follow-up interviews from a sample of the survey participants will be used to investigate their views further and explore how institutional and
individual practices have been positively/negatively influenced due to the increasing ‘metricisation’ of higher education across the two countries.