1. What is your job title?
Director, QILT Research and Strategy at the Social Research Centre.
2. Briefly, how would you describe your role in terms of your place in your institution?
My role is pretty different compared to when I was working in the sector, but in many ways there are similarities with the role of institutional researchers in that we in the SRC QILT team collect relevant data from students and graduates and try to make that available to institutions in a consumable way. A major part of my role here is to liaise with the higher education sector—including the non-university higher education institutions (NUHEIs)—and the Department of Education to try to ensure that the QILT surveys are meeting institution needs in terms of content, methodology, implementation, reporting and benchmarking, and helping them to integrate this data into their systems in order to engage with QILT as fully as possible.
3. From your perspective, what are the emerging areas of interest in institutional research?
From my perspective, there seems to be a growing emphasis on performance indicators and benchmarking, and my impression is that the focus is moving to BI and big data, including machine learning and datamining. There also seems to be a shift from long narrative reports to customisable and interactive reporting systems like Tableau and PowerBI, which require some real expertise to make the data speak for itself to a range of stakeholders.
4. What do you believe will be the future priorities for institutional research?
As I said above, I think that the shift for institutional research will be a shift to more IT-heavy datamining and big data systems, and move away from narrative reporting to customisable dashboards as reporting mechanisms. The challenge will be to ensure that we don’t lose the expertise of those who understand the ‘story’ and are able to guide consumers of this information to the information that they need to make the best strategic decisions for their institutions and the sector.
5. Complete this statement: In my role, I can’t operate effectively without…
The good will and generosity of the relevant staff in the higher education sector in their engagement with the QILT surveys and their willingness to work with us to improve the instruments, methods and reporting. Sometimes, these large-scale central surveys can lose touch with the sector and become a hurdle that doesn’t add value, but I think that the engagement of institutional researchers like survey managers, planners, data analysts and stats people, has been invaluable to the QILT program.
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