Benchmarking from the Perspective of Chief Financial Officers

New England Resource Center for Higher Education, University of Massachusetts Boston

The following Brief from the New England Resource Center for Higher Education (NERCHE) is a distillation of collaborative work of members of NERCHE's ongoing think tanks for administrators and faculty in the New England region. NERCHE Briefs emphasize policy implications and action agendas from the point of view of the people who tackle the most compelling issues in higher education in their daily work lives. With support from the Ford Foundation, NERCHE disseminates these pieces to a targeted audience of legislators, college and university presidents and system heads, and media contacts. The Briefs are designed to add critical information and essential voices to the policy decisions that leaders in higher education address.


Benchmarking is a widespread practice in all industries today. Higher education is no exception. One need only look at annual rankings in U.S. News and World Report to appreciate power of benchmarking in a market-driven society that is seeking the best value in education. To the public, and even to leaders in higher education, measures such as these amount to an externally imposed evaluation. The impact of benchmarking on an institution can be significant. But is it worth it? Chief Financial Officers from the New England area offer their views.