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Knowledge exchange opportunities for HE libraries

HIGHER Education libraries in England have an opportunity to support their institutions ahead of the proposed Knowledge ­Exchange Framework (KEF).

Announced last year by Jo ­Johnson in his role as Minister for Universities and Science, the KEF will complement the Teaching and Research Excellence Frameworks (TEF and REF). The aim is to further strengthen the way universities can measure their output by adding a new metric to the mix alongside teaching and research.

The ability to ensure an institution’s knowledge is managed and ­effectively shared is seen as crucial to delivering improvements across the sector – ­although the current iteration is only England-wide and therefore misses supporting HE institutes in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

During his speech to launch KEF at last year’s Hefce conference, Jo Johnson said: “I am keen to explore what more we can do to evaluate the extent of knowledge exchange, engagement, collaboration and commercialisation – the impact that universities are having on the economy – and to recognise which of our universities are leading the way. I see a key role for an enhanced ­per­formance assessment in creating a ­constructive competitive dynamic between institutions that incentivises them to make the most of opportunities they have for knowledge exchange.”

He added that there is already a wide variety of data collected on knowledge transfer, with some work already done by Professor Trevor McMillan’s knowledge exchange steering group.

“Our ambition is that the new KEF will become an important public indicator of how good a job universities are doing at discharging their third mission, just as the REF rewards excellence in research and the TEF rewards excellence in teaching and student outcomes.

This will enable universities to benchmark and develop their own performance, and will increase universities’ accountability to taxpayers, local government and businesses.”

Hefce ran a consultation programme at the start of this year looking at the best metrics to use. Professor Richard Jones, from the University of Sheffield will chair a technical group, which is due to report back in summer before a finalised scheme is announced in autumn 2018.

CILIP’s Director of Policy Guy Daines ­believes that KEF would have more ­value if it is adopted UK-wide, but says it presents opportunities for HE libraries, ­saying: “It seems to me that, allied with the UK ­Research Infrastructure Roadmap this could present excellent opportunities to promote the HE library, knowledge and information services.”

Published: 8 November 2017

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