Higher Education Consortium Launches National Benchmarking Initiative

April 10, 2005

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – April 8, 2005 – The National University Telecommunications Network (NUTN), a consortium of over 50 higher education institutions, and Hezel Associates, a consulting firm for the education sector, today announced the launch of a longitudinal benchmarking study focused on quality in distance learning. The research is being conducted to better define the measurements of quality in distance learning and develop a set of tools universities and colleges can use to collect internal data for comparison within specific peer groupings or institutions in general.

“Colleges and universities are experiencing increased pressure to rigorously assess the success of their programs and practices as evidenced by recent reports such as the Accountability Commission of the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO),” said Dr. Richard Hezel, president of Hezel Associates. “One way they can do this is by benchmarking — the continuous measurement of outcomes, processes and practices to demonstrate accountability and progress.”

More than 25 colleges and universities have agreed to participate in the NUTN-Hezel Associates Distance Learning Benchmarking Study. Researchers are now seeking 50 additional institutions to join the cohort. The initial survey is designed to examine in detail how quality is defined and measured in five areas associated with distance learning: administrative, academic, student support student outcomes and external comparison.

“The NUTN Board realized the need of our institutions to clearly measure quality within our own institutions for purposes of comparability across institutions,” said NUTN Chair Janis Hall. “We expect the study results inform the entire distance learning community and guide the development of new policies and standards.”

Initial survey results will be released at the NUTN Annual Conference, June 12-14, San Francisco. To learn more about the benefits of participating in the study and complete the initial survey, visit http://www.hezel.com/benchmarking

The National University Telecommunications Network (NUTN) is committed to providing dynamic leadership and support of applications of new and emerging technologies in distance education. As a premier distance learning professional organization, involved in both professional development and product development, NUTN provides vision and experience to higher education institutions and professionals serving numerous constituencies and organizations. For further information about NUTN visit http://www.nutn.org

Headquartered in Syracuse, N.Y., Hezel Associates provides research, evaluation and strategic services to national and international clients in education, technology, publishing and business. The firm has earned a distinguished national reputation as a leading expert in distance education research including their latest report,

The Global E-learning Opportunity for U.S. Higher Education. Clients such as the U.S. Department of Education, the World Health Organization, Habitat for Humanity International, the Public Broadcasting Service and Regis University have relied on Hezel Associates’ recommendations to make strategic decisions and create and implement policies. The company was founded in 1987 by Dr. Richard T. Hezel, a leading research-oriented consultant in the field of education technology. For further information about Hezel Associates, visit http://www.hezel.com