1.1 Benchmarking

Benchmarking is an important principle in the University’s Quality Enhancement Framework. It is a means of comparing JCU’s performance with those of its peers, either at University wide or discipline specific levels.

JCU can make use of benchmarking at various parts of the quality cycle:

  • to inform planning and goal setting through referencing comparative data (approach);

  • to identify and implement good practice to help achieve the University’s goals (deployment);

  • to provide evidence based framework for change and improvement (results); and

  • to identify and monitor standards and performance in order to improve outcomes (improvement).

1.2 Forms of Benchmarking

Benchmarking can be internal, competitive or generic (Doerfel and Ruben, 2002). Internal benchmarking makes comparisons between schools, faculties or divisions within the University. Competitive and generic benchmarking identifies external Universities or organisations which may (competitive) or may not (generic) be competitors but where there are similar organisational practices. The data collected may be quantitative or qualitative or a combination.

1.2.1 Internal Benchmarking

Faculties currently use data from the Faculty Performance Portfolios to compare their schools and between Faculties on a range of indicators:

  • Commencing and total students enrolments by subject, course and discipline

  • Rates of enrolments to EFTSL

  • Participation indicators

  • OP Scores

  • Retention, attrition and progress

  • Service teaching by course

  • Course Experience Questionnaire (CEQ)

  • Graduate Destination Survey (GDS)

  • Research Publications

  • Research Income by category

  • Higher Degree Research completion

  • HDR Load by PhD and Masters

  • Research block earnings

  • Success rate of Research Grant Applications

  • Successful applications, and income by granting bodies

  • Commencing HDR enrolments

  • Profile and casual staff

  • % change of staff

  • % academic staff with PhD

  • % professional / technical staff with qualifications

  • % indigenous staff

  • % staff in senior positions by gender

  • Recreational leave

  • Long service leave

  • Staff turnover

  • Income generated by source

  • Teaching income

  • QTAC data

  • Economic and population

Where possible this date is benchmarked with other Australian Universities or at least compared with the sector average.

1.2.2 External Benchmarking

Faculties, Divisions and the University as a whole undertake benchmarking activities to identify best practice and develop strategies for improvement. The Universities benchmarking activities currently include the following:





IRU members have agreed to share an extensive range of data for benchmarking purposes encompassing indicators for student profile, research and research training, undergraduate teaching and learning, student success, staff, finances and facilities and environment.

Innovative Research Universities (IRU)

Teaching and Learning

Course Experience Questionnaire (CEQ), Graduate Destination Survey (GDS), Postgraduate Experience Questionnaire (PREQ)

Graduate Careers Australia (GCA)


Aspects of teaching and learning resources and support measures

Association for Academic Language and Learning (AALL)

Council of Australian Directors of Academic Development (CADAD)



External course and discipline accreditation

Professional accrediting bodies in around 20 disciplines

Student satisfaction and engagement:

Australasian Universities Survey on Student Engagement (AUSSE)

Australian Council for Educational Research


International (and Domestic) Student Barometer (ISB)


Student profile and outcomes

Student application information

Queensland Tertiary Admissions Centre (QTAC)


Range of details on student population characteristics and outcomes

DEEWR/DIISR Performance Portfolio

Research & Innovation

Research income, publications, citations outcomes

DEEWR Higher Education Research Data Collection (HERDC)

Excellence in Research Australia (ERA)



Aspects of international operations

Australian Universities International Directors Forum (AUIDF)


Collaboration between Australian and New Zealand Universities to compare and contrast library infrastructure, operational and resourcing data.

Council of Australian University Libraries (CAUL)


Aspects of library operations

IRU Benchmarking Monographs 2010: The IRU Libraries compared processes and calculated the average unit cost of adding a monograph to the collection at each IRU Library. JCU has the third lowest unit cost and also acquires the second lowest number of monograph items. Given that increased volume normally reduces processing costs – economies of scale theory – the result emphasizes the efficiency and effectiveness of the JCU Library administrative processes for monographs.

IRU Library Group

Queensland University Libraries Office of Collaboration (QULOC)

Information Technology (IT) & Resources

Aspects of IT services

Council of Australian University Directors of IT (CAUDIT)

Marketing & Engagement

Aspects of marketing services



Pilot project on aspects of community engagement

Australian Universities Community Engagement Alliance (AUCEA)

Workplace health and safety

Practices across participating institutions

Australasian Universities Safety Association (AUSA)


Maintenance costs and trends, car parking

Tertiary Education Facilities Management Association (TEFMA)

Student Counselling and Careers Services

Standards, policies and procedures, and current issues for Counselling and Careers Services in universities

National Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (NAGCAS)

Human Resources

Alesco HRMIS benchmarked against 19 other Universities across Australia and New Zealand.

HES HRMIS Group and Talent2 User Group


Senior salaries

Mercer Dataset


Human resource data

QUT Human Resources Universities Benchmarking Program

Financial and Business Services

Costing and benchmarking of administrative activities (highlighting the level of effort and expenditure on administrative activities)

Administrative Costing Benchmarking Group (4 Universities)

Campus Consulting


Costing of university level education and training in health and veterinary science disciplines.

DEEWR – Higher Education Base Funding and Cluster Levels Review

Benchmarking Group (4 Universities)


1.3 Principles of Benchmarking

The University encourages benchmarking with comparable rational and international institutions as a method of enhancing performance. Benchmarking should be undertaken under the following principles:

  • be in support of the University’s mission, values and strategic intent;

  • be committed to the learning and sharing of good practice;

  • be undertaken only where the data is relevant and comparable and the results of which are anticipated to assist in improving practice; and

  • be undertaken confidentially within the partner group with agreed next or data publication and level of information to be exchanged.

1.4 Initiation and Management of Benchmarking Guidelines


The Quality Enhancement Office should be consulted prior to benchmarking activities to ascertain whether there are any similar or overlapping benchmarking activities currently being conducted.


If a formal request for information from another institution is required, approval must be obtained by the relevant Divisional or Faculty Head or in the case of a University wide benchmarking activity the Vice Chancellor. If the scope of the benchmarking activities includes multiple areas, approval must be sought from the head of each area prior to the commencement.


The responsibility for conducting benchmarking activities is the faculty or divisional head under whose authority the project was approved, or their delegate.


Written agreements with other organisations with which the projects are undertaken must be completed through the University’s Commercial Services Office.


It is expected that benchmarking projects will be funded by the division or faculty which initiates them, though submissions can be made through the budgeting process if there is funding allocated and the projects fulfills the criteria for the funding.


Benchmarking project reports should be provided to the Quality Enhancement office where confidentiality allows.