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6623 l

8 December 2017

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Measuring the impact of higher education is a complex and controversial endeavour.  However, universities increasingly play an important role in achieving social progress and growth.  Currently, most ranking systems lack metrics to reflect the efforts of an institution in social impact.  In this workshop, Executive Committee Members of the USR Network were involved in brainstorming social impact metrics together with Times Higher Education (THE) in an effort to bring to light possible ways to capture the engagement of universities with their own communities. 

Purpose of workshop

  • Use Theory of Change as a framework to generate possible metrics to capture social impact in higher education in five focus areas being: teaching and learning, research, community, environmental sustainability, and responsible processes.

Topic coverage for the five focus areas:

Focus Area Description

Teaching and Learning


Infusing ethical and social responsibility into the student experience including service learning, civic responsibility, and student volunteering.



Creation and dissemination of research with positive impact on society.
Community Applying knowledge for the benefit of communities so all can realise their full potential.

Environmental Sustainability


Socially responsible institution by using resources in a sustainable way.  Minimise environmental impact and promote environmental sustainability across the institution.

Responsible Processes


Operating practices that make contribution to intellectual, cultural, social and economic life. Providing an equitable and supportive working environment.

Outcomes of the Workshop

The workshop is a good initial step to consider further refinement of social impact metrics going forward.  The discussions arising from the workshop was well disseminated to all members to seek additional input specifically on measurement.  This could serve as a foundation for any subsequent pilot tests or scale development efforts for social impact metrics among the USRN Member institutions if deemed appropriate.  

6623 l