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Fictitious Efficiency: What the Russian Survey of Performance of Higher Education Institutions Actually Assessed

Katerina Guba, Mikhail Sokolov and Angelika Tsivinskaya

Educational Studies, 2020, issue 1, 97-125

Abstract: Mikhail Sokolov - Candidate of Sciences in Sociology, Professor. E-mail: msokolov@eu.spb.ruKaterina Guba - Candidate of Sciences in Sociology, Director of the Center for Institutional Analysisof Science Education. E-mail: kguba@eu.spb.ruAngelika Tsivinskaya - junior researcher at the Center for Institutional Analysis of Science Education. E-mail: atsivinskaya@eu.spb.ruEuropean University at St. Petersburg. Address: 6/1a Gagarinskaya Str., 191187 St. Petersburg, Russian Federation.Annual Survey of Performance of Higher Education Institutions, conducted in Russia since 2012, was used to identify inefficient universities, subject to measures including closure or merging with other schools. As a result of these policies, the number of Russian universities has decreased more than 1.5 times since 2013. In this article, we analyze the consequences of implementing the appraisal system invented by the Russian Ministry. We argue that the use of the Survey reflects a conceptual confusion between effectiveness (the organization"s ability to achieve socially significant goals) and efficiency (the ability to achieve goals with minimal cost). The Ministry has made managerial decisions based on the Survey results (like merging a public university with an allegedly better performing HEI), which indicates understanding of the Survey as an assessment of efficiency. At the same time, statistical analysis of the performance indicators demonstrates that structural characteristics of universities (region and belonging to an institutionalized category, e. g. a pedagogical or an agrarian university) explain the significant part of the variance in the university"s performance. This led to discrimination against certain unlucky categories of universities. The methods used include logistic regression to estimate the odds of being labeled as an effective organization in 2014 and the Cox proportional hazards model to estimate the university"s chances of survival between 2013 and 2017.

Keywords: performance assessment; organizational efficiency; higher education in Russia; Survey of Performance of Higher Education Institutions (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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