Investing in future research and education productivity growth

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About Us



The Higher Education and Research Group provides analysis, information and advice on

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About Higher Education and Research Group (HERG)

We are a consulting and policy advisory organization established to encourage collaboration and advisory services to support ongoing productivity of the higher education sector. The impetus came from applied research that was aimed at learning more about how efficiency operated in higher education sectors in Australia, the US and the UK.

The independent creation of the REEF Index is a key element of HERG’s work. The REEF Index provides a point of reference for policy and strategy that both describes efficiency and compares: institutions with their own efficiency previous position, against other institutions, and against a “frontier” of efficiency in the sector.

Additionally it supports a broader and deeper understanding of the efficiency and productivity of the sector as a whole – possibly described as the higher education ‘ecosystem’.

This innovative tool is agnostic as to any particular mix of Education and Research that each institution chooses and so for the first time allows analysis to be undertaken that takes those variations between institutions into account.

HERG seeks to make a contribution to public discussion about: Efficiency within the higher education sector Research and Education policy Global efficiency trends in higher education.

HERG also works with university executives to create strategies to increase institutional efficiency.

Reef Index

The REEF Index is an innovative and comprehensive whole of sector approach to measuring efficiency (productivity):

  1. at a point in time, and
  2. changes in efficiency over time.
  3. comparisons with like institutions and the sector ‘efficiency frontier’
The tool is known as the Research and Education Efficiency Frontier Index (REEF Index). As a consequence of the nature of the innovation and its focus on efficiency, we believe that the REEF Index will make a significant and long-term contribution to education policy in Australia and internationally.

One reason is because the index assists in providing an objective “window” on universities that is neither conventional nor readily ‘gamed’. It has the potential to be of use to governments and can support both funding agencies and the sector more broadly for years to come.

WHO THE REEF INDEX SERVES


Government may seek to have efficiency measures that are not just cash flow based using the REEF Index.

For Taxpayers, the REEF Index is a measure that more easily passes “pub test” type questions such as “Which university gives the taxpayer the best value for each dollar invested?”.

Other interested stakeholders, such as philanthropic trusts, state government and private sector partners and other potential partners, may use the REEF Index as a criterion for establishing or continuing a relationship with a university.

Governments and their agencies with responsibilities may be users, including the relevant Government departments together with agencies such as Auditors-General both State and Federal.

Those charged with university management, governance and oversight such as university councils may use the REEF Index to generate efficiency measures as key KPIs.

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Public Commentary

HERG is regularly called upon to provide public commentary. HERG work has been cited in the Australian Parliament (Hansard Senate 6 September 2017 page 26) as a contribution to the understanding of “real productivity opportunities” for Australian higher education. The Minister of Education – Senator Simon Birmingham – has described the work as “ground breaking” (reported in Australian Financial Review August 28th 2017).

READ OUR REEF INDEX POWERPOINT PRESENTATION
READ OUR SUBMISSION TO THE PARLIAMENTARY INQUIRY INTO FUNDING AUSTRALIA'S RESEARCH
SENATE INQUIRY UNIVERSITY FUNDING HERG SUBMISSION 9 SEPTEMBER 2020
WATCH OUR VIDEO ON REEF INDEX
WATCH OUR 2021 AHEIA PRESENTATION

EXPLAINERS ON REEF

Key Explainer Documents on the REEF Index

The Explainer series has been developed by the Higher Education and Research Group to describe and discuss key issues relevant to the measuring of university productivity. They are updated from time to time and represent working documents aimed at providing a greater understanding of matters relevant to productivity benchmarking and assessment matters.