Toscan Open Research

A regional government wants to further take advantage of the repository of data on higher education, research and innovation built to feed its strategic information system. Such an information system was developed for its observatory on Higher education and Research, to derive insights to inform policy-making.

To this aim, SIRIS Academic worked in close collaboration with the reference people in the regional government to define the indicators that were most relevant to their mission.
This step led to the co-design of a set of indicators, organised to address specific questions of interest for the regional government, such as its degree of internationalization, the characteristics of its higher education institutions, the areas of specialization of its research system, and so on.

To facilitate the consultation (internal to the regional government) and the follow-up of the selected indicators, we created an interactive notebook that:
allows for an easy-to-navigate view of the indicators,
is easily transferable to the internal statistical offices of the regional government, to allow for an in-house, long term monitoring of the indicators.
The notebook is organised following a question-based structure, and features graphics based on different aggregation and visualisation options, to return a thorough view of the analysed phenomena.

An example of how we helped the regional government to address its questions is given by how we approached the characterization of the higher education system.

A higher education system is a complex universe, composed of several institutions and actors, and several components, such students (both undergraduate and graduate) and academic staff.
Of course, a regional system does not exist in isolation, but it is embedded in a wider network, at a national and international scale, calling for the need of comparing oneself against relevant benchmarks.

The notebook allows to characterize both the student and the academic staff population.
To address the “competitiveness” of regional HE systems in attracting students, it is useful to compare the mobility pattern of students in the region of interest, with respect to selected benchmark regions:

To assess in further detail the intra-regional mobility, we explored the regional distribution of students enrolled in a certain discipline. The distribution of students per province and per disciplinary area is shown in the graphics below, from which the characteristics of the main regional poles for higher education emerge:

To understand the emerging macro-features, it is useful to visualize the evolution of the enrolled students per disciplinary area in a 15-years time range:

… and again, compare it to the evolution in selected benchmark regions.

Alongside students, to fully understand a HER system it is fundamental to analyse also the academic staff. The graphics below show the evolution, in absolute numbers and in percentage, of the academic staff in the region of interest, allowing for a comparison with respect to the student population:

The graphics shown so far are focused on the undergraduate students, but similar questions and indicators are derived for the graduate student population.

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