This paper describes an attempt to evaluate cost efficiency in UK university central administration. The funding councils of higher education institutions have progressively evolved elaborate systems for measuring university performance in teaching quality and research. Indeed, funding of universities is linked to their performance in research. The allocation of resources between academic and administrative activities, on the other hand, has so far not been subject to scrutiny. Yet, expenditure on administration is typically some 30% of that allocated to academic activities. This paper sets up a data envelopment analysis (DEA) framework to identify practices leading to cost-efficient central administrative services in UK universities. The problems in defining the unit of assessment and the relationship between the inputs and the outputs are clearly demonstrated. © 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
- higher education
- performance measurement systems