Restructuring the System of Higher Education: Assessing the Outcomes of University Mergers
We investigate the main question of whether higher education institutions are able to increase their performance due to mergers, takeovers, or organizational restructuring. The problem of measuring performance when there are several “output” and “input” indicators can currently be solved by recourse to a proven data analysis method (data envelopment analysis, DEA). Two models are presented to assess the educational and research performance of universities. The DEA model, which is input orientated and has constant returns to scale, was used to perform calculations. To conduct a comparative analysis of groups of universities that are at various stages of the restructuring process, the study authors proposed several classifications of universities:
by number of consolidated and/or eliminated organizational units,
by period when restructuring was completed,
by type of restructuring mechanism, and
on the basis of whether technical colleges have been joined to the university in question.
We used nonparametric statistical methods for comparing averages to test the proposed hypotheses. Our study sample consisted of 132 universities whose parent agency is the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation. The authors did not discover that the performance of the universities deteriorated as a result of the restructuring process. It turned out that universities that actively participate in restructuring processes in fact increased their performance level relative to other universities.
The study did not reveal that institutions that are currently in the process of being merged with or taken over by other institutions experience a temporary decline and subsequent restoration of their performance level. The performed analysis did not confirm the hypothesis that universities that absorbed technical colleges experienced a drop in their performance level. The results of the study unanimously show that by 2015 universities made progress in bridging the gap with the performance level of their leading competitors compared to 2010. The authors are aware that the verification of the accuracy of the proposed arguments requires a more detailed study of the universities. Because many countries have already accumulated a large amount of experience in how to restructure institutions of higher education, the results of the present study of the restructuring of Russian universities make it possible to draw comparisons as well as to use the developed theoretical concepts to explain and predict the possible consequences of using various restructuring mechanisms. The study is based on the widely accepted method of data envelopment analysis. This article represents the first time that this method has been used to benchmark university performance over time.