In benchmarking, as in software development, localisation means changing the wording of systems to suit the local context.
There are at least two levels of localisation:
- to a specific national situation
- to the situation of institutions within a specific national context
Past experience (e.g. with the TLT Round Table projects) shows that there were considerable problems in localising US approaches to UK HE. The situation is not so serious with Australian or New Zealand material (such as eMM) since the university systems are more compatible - and recent versions of eMM have benefited from the pilot work done by the University of Manchester and general collaboration between English and Scottish experts and Stephen Marshall.
But however good the material is, there is a substantial problem with localisation to specific institutions. While there are some signs of gentle convergence (e.g. towards most but not all universities using the title Vice-Chancellor for their head) the variant origins and traditions of the constituent subsectors of the UK HE sector mean that there are still considerable differences - and benchmarking experience from the pilot and Phase 1 indicates that institutions become very easily put off if the locally correct language is not used.
Some of the main issues are below:
- the name for the highest-level academic unit - School or Faculty?
- the name for the head of that unit - Dean or Director?
- the anme for the deputies to the Dean - Sub-Dean or Pro-Dean
- the subtle differences between DVC and PVC
- the name of the unit or sub-unit - and sometimes several - "in charge of" learning and teaching, quality enhancement, staff development, etc