by: Amber Daniels
Quality reporting is a critical aspect of good governance and sound business decisions, but what is it?
At its core, ‘reporting’ is the presentation of information, evidence and analyses to convey critical information on a matter to a key audience. For the purposes of this article, ‘reporting’ is restricted to written reports, as opposed to governmental data reporting, oral presentations and so on.
Functionally speaking, reporting in higher education informs strategic and operational direction, acts as a dialogue between governing bodies (and providers and government, or government regulators). It assists in demonstrating the execution of committee Terms of Reference and organisational compliance with the Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards) 2021 (HESF) and other relevant legislation.
Practically speaking, high-quality, evidence-based reporting informs high-quality decisions which in turn supports effective governance.
What makes a quality report?
When writing the report, it is critical to keep the audience in mind. Remember that the audience is not necessarily just the committee receiving the report. Reports are an important part of agenda papers that inform internal and external governance reviews, and TEQSA submissions (from requests for information, through to reregistration), and most importantly, facilitate and aid quality decision-making.
Learn from members of your team who enjoy report writing (they do exist!). Benchmark your reports: see what is available online, and where possible, sense check with key and critical friends in your audience to ascertain what kind of report they are expecting. Producing a high-level overview when an audience is expecting thorough analyses (and vice-versa) is usually inefficient and unproductive.
There are many guides available to help develop quality reports, and your institution may have a preferred format and template. The table below explains the general format and structure of quality reports:
What is a Reporting Framework
A Reporting Framework creates a standardised environment for regular reporting. This helps achieve consistency and comparability over time, which in turn makes reading reports far easier for overloaded committees and executive.
A quality Reporting Framework will:
- Be mapped to the HESF
- Include KPIs and the methodologies to calculate them
- Include methodologies used to calculate provider datasets, noting that the TEQSA Risk Assessment Framework, Student Experience Survey and Graduate Outcome Survey methodologies are the best-practice standards in analysing Higher Education data.
- Detail regular reporting schedules, usually in a tabular format. A simple example is provided below:
How does this contribute to effective governance?
Quality reporting facilitates effective communication and high-quality decisions. Producing effective, meaningful reports assists in efficient decision-making by taking the guesswork out of a problem. Consistent, regular reporting facilitates effective monitoring of business, business risks and performance. Reporting also produces an important regulatory narrative, demonstrating the efforts of providers to meet and improve beyond the Threshold Standards (HESF).
Do you want to know more about quality reporting?
If you would like more information on how to write or structure a report, let us know! We’d love to hear from you. Contact email@example.com or reach out to the team on LinkedIn to discuss how we can support your reporting needs.