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Evaluation and self-evaluation of universities in Europe: Evaluations of resources - Evaluations of structures

By resources, we mean evidently the personnel (academics, engineers, technicians, administrative personnel and workers), but also the financial resources. At last, the organisation is also a resource: the university government and the structures (faculties, departments, administrative and technical services). In comparison to the teaching and to the research evaluations, the evaluation of resources is still weakly structured and is relatively new, even if the evaluation of staff, as individuals, is traditional. The evaluation of resources is centred on the efficiency: are they used in the best way to reach good results?

Evaluations of structures:
One of the consequences of the growth in the student number is the increasing number of structures within universities, particularly at their central level. The other tendency is this of more complex structures because of the diversified missions assigned to universities. So, the problems questioned by evaluations are: do new structures have to be set up? Do the existing structures have to be split or merged? How structure levels are pertinent? Is it necessary to centralise or decentralise? Are the same tasks achieved by several structures? The will of more flexible structures, more dynamic, ready to fill the users' needs according to the quick changes of the environment, is central in the evaluation of structures.

Three great types of structures have been identified for the analysis: traditional academic structures (faculties, departments, institutes, research centres...), support structures for teaching and research (libraries, computing centres...), non-academic structures (administrative and technical services, the most often centralised, such as personnel, financial, student registration services...). National evaluation bodies essentially evaluate teaching and research, and, at a lower degree, they evaluate the organisation : 62 evaluations of structures have been identified in the 31 case studies; they have been classified and some statistical operations have been made on them (it is the only case in the research).

More than half of the evaluations deal with the academic structures of teaching and research. On third concerns the non-academic structures and only one sixth the support structures for teaching and research. These evaluations are essentially decided by the universities in the context of their autonomy: it seems to be an important condition to monitor changes. They are internal evaluations in one third of the cases, external evaluations but decided by the university management in another third of cases, audits by private consultant agencies in 5% of the cases. The evaluations of structures are decided by the public authorities, only in 25% of the cases.

75% of the identified evaluations have been made in the universities of general character: they essentially evaluate their academic and their non academic structures and, at a lesser degree, their support structures; they decide on the evaluation and on their external or internal realisation as the average of universities. The profession-oriented universities of education and applied sciences evaluate, more than the average, the support structures and the non-academic structures; more than the average, they make internal evaluations and mobilise private agencies, as if, because of their proximity with firms, they adopt their behaviour. At last, the universities of territorial development do not evaluate a lot their structures; they are more concerned by the external evaluations (evaluations essentially concern their support structures); maybe, these universities, because they know an important growth and because they frequently set up new structures, are not ready to evaluate the structures (it would be a non-sense for the new ones).

More, other results are important. It seems that there are not more evaluations in the universities with a great autonomy than in the universities with less autonomy; nevertheless, it seems that there are more external evaluations when the university autonomy is strong. The degree of decision-taking decentralisation seems to be an interesting advantage for the valuation development. Internal evaluation bodies seem to play a pushing role in the development of the organisation evaluation. However, the most important factor for the evaluation of structures is the financial situation: the financial is pushing the rationalisation.

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Pierre DUBOIS
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Fax: +33-1-40977135
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