Paper presented in track 3 at the. EAIR 37 Annual Forum in Krems, Austria 30 August till 2 September Name of Author(s) Junchao Zhang Min Chen

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1 Organizational and Role Transformation of Chinese Higher Education Research Institutions Based on the Survey about Current Situation of HERIs in 4- year HEIs Paper presented in track 3 at the th EAIR 37 Annual Forum in Krems, Austria 30 August till 2 September 2015 Name of Author(s) Contact Details Junchao Zhang Min Chen Junchao Zhang School of Education,Huazhong University of Science and Technology 1037 Luoyu Road, Hongshan District, Wuhan, Hubei, P.R.China E- mail: Key words Higher Education Research Institutions, Institutional Research, Organizational Transformation, Research Paradigm, China 1 Click here and type the title of your presentation

2 Abstract Organizational and Role Transformation of Chinese Higher Education Research Institutions Based on the Survey about Current Situation of HERIs in 4- year HEIs Following a different developmental path, institutional research in China emerged as a sub- field of higher education research in the form of higher education research institutes (HERI), rather than typical institutional research offices located in American or European universities. In the past 40 years, many HERIs were built in Chinese universities, and they generally follow two different directions: an academic research approach and an administrative affairs approach. As more and more Chinese university leaders start to change from experience- based management style to data- driven and evidence- based, HERIs are facing new challenges to accommodate those new needs. This study will review the development of HERIs in China and analysis their current situation and problems, and then further discuss HERIs new trend of organizational and role transformation based on a national 4- year HEIs Survey. 2 Click here and type the title of your presentation

3 Presentation Organizational and Role Transformation of Chinese Higher Education Research Institutions Based on the Survey about Current Situation of HERIs in 4- year HEIs 1.Background of the Investigation Chinese Higher education has gained tremendous development in the past 40 years. The college- age population enrollment rate increased from 9.8% in 1998 to 37.5% in 2014 which indicated Chinese higher education developing from elite to popularization. Almost all four- year institutions have over 10,000 students, possess huge campuses and have gained more and more autonomy. Meanwhile, social and public accountability for higher education in China is increasing with the Cost-sharing policy of higher education implemented since In such a complicated situation, higher education leaders cannot manage their universities under the traditional experience- oriented management style any more. The new data- driven and evidence based approach is becoming more and more desirable. Serving as Chinese universities major decision support agencies, many higher education research institutes (HERI) were created since China launched its opening and reforming policy in However, Those institutes generally follow two directions: an academic research approach that focuses on training graduate students and developing higher education theories; and an administrative affairs approach that focuses on report generating for university leaders with an role more similar to secretaries. To address new situation of HE and expectation from university leaders, higher education research institutes (HERI) now faces new challenges. HERIs need to successfully transform themselves from macro theory- based research paradigm to decision- making support agencies that focus on applied/action studies. What s the current organizational structure these HERIs and what kind of roles they play? How can these HERIs meet the challenges and play a role as IR offices? A national survey was conducted in 2014 to collect information on current status of higher education research institutions in 878 Chinese 4- year HEIs (which include public and private universities and colleges). This survey asks about HERIs mission, main tasks, and the role of HERI in higher education. Other areas such as the backgrounds of researchers, major responsibilities, time allocation, research projects, and their decision support functions are also covered. Moreover we also went to 64 colleges and interviewed with 82 higher education leaders. 2.Data Description and Analysis A census conducted in all year HEIs in China which mainly focus on the HERI organization and staff size, distribution etc. Census found that there are 514 universities and colleges setting HERIs and 364 universities still have no such organizations. A questionnaire handed out to the researchers of HERIs in those 514 HEIs and 320 gave response with 60% response rate. In which 307 valid questionnaires, the effective questionnaires was 96%. Survey results are as follows. 2.1 HERIs distribution in different HEIs Table 1 HERIs distribution in 4- year universities and colleges Have Percentage Not Have Percentage HERI HERI 985 Project Universities 34 6% 4 1% 211 Project Universities 55 11% 17 5% Local Universities &Colleges % % Total % % 2.2 The staff size and distribution in HERIs Among 878 investigated colleges, 514 of them have HERIs with a proportion about 59%. The total number of staff in these HERI is 4578 with a distribution as the table shown below. Table 2 HERIs overall staff size and distribution 3 Click here and type the title of your presentation

4 Total Staff 4578 Full- time Member Part- time Member 2311 (50.5%) 2267 (49.5%) Professor Senior Research Fellow Others 1075(23.5%) 511(11%) 725(16%) Among 514 investigated colleges which have HERIs, the staff size and proportion as follows. Table 3 HERI staff size (each college) and proportion Staff number and up Total Full- time 7% 43% 31% 11% 7% 100% Part- time 45% 22% 10% 6% 17% 100% Full- time professor Full- time senior research fellow 31% 52% 11% 3% 4% 100% 62% 31% 4% 2% 1% 100% 2.3 Geographical distribution and category of surveyed colleges The data of 307 valid questionnaires is analyzed. Among these 307 colleges, there are 68 "211 Project" key colleges (include the top 29 "985 Project" colleges) and 239 local colleges. The geographical distribution and category of colleges shows in Table 3 which shows that the surveyed colleges can represent the geographical distribution and category of Chinese Universities and Colleges. Table 4 Geographical distribution and category of the surveyed colleges Geographical Amou distribution nt Percentage College category Amount Percentage East 85 28% Comprehensive % Central 43 14% Science & Technology 86 28% Southwest 43 14% Normal 36 12% Northeast 41 13% Medicine 27 9% North 37 12% Finance & Economics 20 7% South 29 9% Agriculture & Forestry 12 4% Northwest 29 9% Others 12 4% Total % Total % 2.4 Affiliation and Leadership of HERIs Most of HERIs are set up independently or anchored in the administrative departments. According to the survey, there are 47% HERIs set up independently and led by the colleges leader directly. 36% HERIs anchored in the administrative department and another 12 percent belong to school of education and science. Meanwhile, HERIs are mostly headed by the President and vice president of teaching. 33% of HERIs led by the vice president in charge of teaching, 27% directly led by the president. The graph below can show the leadership distribution. 4 Click here and type the title of your presentation

5 33% 27% 17% 11% 9% 2% 1% Vice President of Teaching President Others Vice President of Research Secretary of Party Committee Vice President Vice President of HR of Student Affair Figure 1 Leadership profile of HERIs 2.5 Basic Tasks and Functions of HERIs The survey shows that institutional research is a main task of most HREIs. Study shows 21% of HREIs are mainly engaged in the institutional research, 70% of HREIs do both higher education theoretical research and institutional research, and only 9% HREIs are mainly engaged in basic theoretical higher education research. Researchers do the institutional research in various ways. Strategic planning and teaching assessment are the main areas of institutional research. The main tasks and specific research issues as shown in Figure 2 include carrying out research commissioned by the university leaders (83%), participate in the development of college Strategic plan (61%), the collection and analysis of college operation data (60%), participate in teaching evaluation (58%) and writing reports and speeches for the leadership(54%). In addition, other research also include such as participation in the university regulations and institutional history. Respect to research outcomes, most HERIs research results take importance on both academic achievement and practice application. According to the survey, 29% of HERIs focus on applied research outcomes (such as policy recommendations, advisory reports, etc.). 60% concern academic achievement as well as practice application, 11% mainly focus on academic achievement (papers, monographs publication etc. ). carry out special issue research commissioned by the university leaders 83% Participate in university strategy planning Collection and analysis of university operation data Participate in teaching assessment Writing reports and speeches for leadership Participate in formulationg the university constitution 61% 60% 58% 54% 45% 39% Carry out research on university history Others 8% 11% Figure 2 The Ways and Main tasks of HERIs Daily Work 5 Click here and type the title of your presentation

6 2.6 Interaction frequency with Universities leadership and administrative departments Members in HERIs interact with university leadership (56%), teaching affairs department(54%) and strategy planning office (50%)more often. In addition, HERIs researchers interact with presidents office, research affairs department with a moderate degree of frequency. However, the interaction frequency with HR office, Graduate School, the financial administrative department,students affairs department, support & service department is low. It can be concluded that teaching affairs and strategy planning matters are HERIs main areas of daily work. 56% 54% 50% 40% 36% 31% 20% 19% 18% 9% 5% Figure 3 The Interaction frequency with Universities leadership and administrative departments 2.7 The Problems HERIs Facing The researchers shortage of HERIs, research capacity of researchers need to be improved, lack of university level data platform and unreasonable evaluation and assessment way to HERIs researchers, are the main problems HERIs now facing. More than half of respondents point out these 4 problems. 81% of respondents said a shortage of researchers units and 78% think the research capacity of researchers need to be improved. Additionally, the university leadership take less importance on IR, the researchers are not familiar with the university management practices, the absence of active service awareness of HERIs researchers and less contact with the functional departments, also are the problems of HERIs need to be solved. As shown in figure below. 6 Click here and type the title of your presentation

7 Serious shortage of researchers The research capacity needs to be improved Lack of uniried data platform 75% 81% 78% Unreasonable assessment ways to HERIs researchers No enough attention from the leadship Not familiar with the university management practice The researchers cannot obtain the school data Absence of active service awareness Less contact with the functional departments 54% 46% 43% 41% 38% 35% 7 Click here and type the title of your presentation Figure 4 The Main Problems HERIs Facing 3.Conclusion and Discussion Preliminary results show that most 4- year HEIs have HERIs and those HERIs did a lot of work on research and teaching. On the one hand, the researchers in those HERIs engaged in some IR issues according to the practical demands of HEIs leadership and administrative departments as well as theoretical exploring about macro higher education. On the other hand, those HERIs provided Master and doctoral program also have trained large number of professional graduates for Chinese higher education. Among those 514 HERIs, 100 provide MA in Education, 109 provide Educational Economics and Management master degree program and 20 HERIs offer Higher Education or Educational Economy and Management doctoral programs. However, there still have many problems to be resolved if the HERIs pursue a long- time and good development in HEIs. 3.1 About the positioning of HERIs The survey shows that most HERIs have no clear positioning and version. Researchers in HERIs have ambiguous identity who think that they are neither belong to faculty member nor belong to administrators. In the interview, HERIs researchers talk about a lot about the positioning who believe that the positioning and development of HERIs depends on three factors: the situation of changing higher education, the HEIs leadership s awareness and attention about IR and the HERIs researchers own efforts. Most HERIs was founded in the early 1980s and the general title was Higher Education Research Office which was a branch of academic affairs department with main task of teaching research. With the reform and development of higher education since the 1990s in China, more attention paid to research on higher education and these offices generally developed into dependent Institute for Higher Education. In the late 2000s, with the establishment of teaching assessment centers, policies and planning offices, HERIs face an awkward situation of survival space. Part of them committed to develop higher education discipline development and offering graduate training program, and part just survive for writing some summary work reports and speeches for leaders much like a secretarial team. How to reposition HERIs location and have a success transformation is an urgent problem. 3.2 About the comprehensive quality and ability of HERIs researchers In the survey, when it comes to the main difficulty of HERIs now facing, 78% answered "research capacity of researchers to be improved", 43% answered "researchers are not familiar with university management practices. Higher education research is different from institutional research. Most researchers work in HERIs now are graduated from higher education graduate program and used to following an academic way. They would like to write papers for publishing not for practical application. However as a professional IR member, which requires theoretical knowledge, research capacity as well as understanding of specific HEIs context and some administrative practical experience. Many universities leaders think that "those higher

8 education research much like the floating cloud which have no chance to apply to the practice. How to facilitate the HERI researchers from macro theoretical research paradigm to micro institutional problem based style is the key step to be a professional IR member. 3.3 About the institutional research condition There are two factors limit the development of IR in China. One is the lack of market demand of IR and the other is lack of data platform. Lack of market demand mainly be caused by three reasons. Firstly, due to the popularization of higher education over the past decade, the universities have begun to have some autonomy which resulting in the Initial development of IR in China. However, the government still control the HEIs in very specific aspects and HEIs have no sufficient autonomy. Secondly, social accountability system has not yet formed. Social accountability is an important force to promote institutional research and the Ministry of Education has begun to promote social accountability in recent years. However, HEIs in some degree only need to encounter the accountability from the government but ignore the demands of public. Thirdly, the decision- makers of HEIs are still used to following an experience- based decision- making way and lack of awareness about scientific and democratic decision- making process. The survey shows 46% HERIs believe that "the leaders pay no enough attention" (see Figure 4). A Interviewer said: Some leaders are self- righteous. They regard themselves as rich experienced educator and governor ". Lack of data platform is another big barrier that IR facing to. Data is the basic foundation of IR and it should start from the acquisition of data. However, the institutional research data is difficult to access due to many factors. From inside the HERIs, the data is scattered in different departments and have no unified scientific definition of each concept. Moreover, it is difficult to access to because each department make their data as confidentiality and a king of privilege. The construction of institutional data warehousing and analytical database still have a long way to go. On the national level, a national information system is also still in the processing and HERIs can not obtain comparative data of peer institutions. 4.Suggestions However, barriers and challenges emerged from survey results for HERIs who aim to transform into effective institutional research organization. To overcome those barriers, authors make the following recommendations. 4.1 Set up the appropriate institutions and positioning correctly Professional organization is the basic security of IR.To those HEIs still have no HERIs, a dependent IR office should be set up. To those HEIs with HERIs, there will have a correct position and transformation. The function and task of higher education research generally summarized as 4 areas: Exploring of law and theory of higher education; culturing higher education research and management talented person; providing consulting think tank to government decision- making; advancing HEIs to scientific decision- making through carrying out institutional research. According to the current situation of HERIs, most HEIs can combine the HERI, strategy planning office, teaching assessment center and other agencies into one comprehensive IR office. A few HERIs with strong research strength can keep on focus on the theoretical research and graduate program as well as IR function. 4.2 Improve the HERIs researcher s comprehensive capacities through degree program and workshop HERIs researcher s capacities is the key point of IR professionalization. According to current situation, pursuing further study in graduate program and attend IR workshop are the main two ways to promote. For those HERIs which provide degree program are still facing an organization transformation. Firstly, they can increase EDD program and reduce PHD program. Secondly, these program should take more importance on micro practical oriented research training and provide opportunities for graduates knowing more about HEIs management practice. Third, data- mining and analysis technics and quantitative method also should be reinforced. In addition, Some new member with information system and statistical discipline background should added to HERI group. 4.3 Create a good environment and conditions for IR In order to make a successful transformation for those HERIs, the government, society, universities should work together to create an appropriate environment and conditions. On one hand, social accountability system should be formed. Government should release more autonomy to HEIs and encourage different society groups to supervise the HEIs. The HEIs leadership will take more attention about IR and transfer their experience- based management style to an evidence- based mode. On the other hand, colleges and 8 Click here and type the title of your presentation

9 universities must strengthen the integrated data system construction. Make bricks without straw. In the era of big data, missing data, and restricting the higher education research is very important factor. Universities should strive to strengthen the construction of a unified database system, promote the construction of the analysis of the database; promote the establishment of thematic databases, regional database, to achieve local data sharing; to strengthen national institutions of higher learning integrated data system construction, and advance its open to the public. 9 Click here and type the title of your presentation

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