In April 2019 the Italian National Agency for the Evaluation of the University and Research Systems ANVUR, and the English higher education research and knowledge exchange funding agency, Research England have initiated a partnership on the evaluation of research and knowledge exchange in English and Italian universities. Senior leaders from the two organisations met to discuss the countries’ approaches to common evaluation issues.
Research England was created in 2018, incorporating the experience of the former Higher Education Funding Council for England, and represents a world-class leader in research assessment. Alongside preparing for the next iteration of the Research Excellence Framework REF in 2021, Research England is now developing a new assessment exercise, called the Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF), which will evaluate knowledge exchange activities carried out by English universities.
ANVUR has assessed research quality in Italian universities since its institution through the Evaluation of the Quality of Research (VQR) process, and in the most recent exercise included an evaluation of third mission activities.
The KEF and VQR are similar in approach, because both are designed to evaluate how universities use, transfer and exchange knowledge generated through research and scholarship to bring about impact. In both systems the objective is a systematic mapping of these activities through the development of a dashboard of standardised indicators related not only to patenting, academic entrepreneurship and third party research funding, but also on local development projects and public and community involvement.
The meeting enabled Research England and ANVUR to learn from one another’s experience of third mission evaluation in VQR and of the KEF. It also addressed a series of issues related to impact evaluation in REF. The meeting in Rome will be followed by a visit by ANVUR representatives to Bristol.
David Sweeney, Executive Chair of Research England commented: “ANVUR is at the leading edge in the international landscape of knowledge transfer assessment and it was very helpful to discuss Italy’s research evaluation.”