Practical application of a theoretical construct – from the Higher Education-Business Engagement Index to the Ranking of Technical University Programmes

An example of how to transform a theoretical construct into a practical tool. The authors will present lessons learnt from creation of the Higher Education-Business Engagement Index, discuss how they changed their perspective and transformed a theoretical index into a practical ranking tool.

Pawel Poszytek
Foundation for the Development of the Education System

Mateusz Jeżowski
Foundation for the Development of the Education System


Background and objectives of the case
In 2017 the authors developed a theoretical construct of the Higher Education-Business Engagement Index (HEBE Index) aiming at measuring the degree of university-industry interactions in six key areas: research and development activities, personnel and student mobility, competences and education, commercial activities and public engagement. Within the six categories a set of 184 indicators has been established. Still, the HEBE Index remained a theoretical construct, not tested in practice until 2018. In order to test its assumptions in practice, pilot research study was carried out in the first quarter of 2018.

The authors wish to present its main outcomes – discuss obstacles in data collection process, present strengths and weaknesses of the Index and give advice on creation of composite indices, including the list of indicators, which, in their, opinion describe best the cooperation between business and academia. Moreover, the authors partially incorporated the HEBE Index methodology to the Ranking of Technical University Programmes (the presentation will not focus on the ranking itself; the authors will demonstrate however how they transformed the Higher Education-Business Engagement Index into a practical tool).
Given the fact that the cooperation between academia and business plays a crucial role in the case of technical universities, the Ranking might be a new tool measuring the quality of technical studies in Europe and its important part focuses on university-industry relations.

The Higher Education-Business Engagement Index has been developed by the Foundation for the Development of the Education System – Polish National Agency of Erasmus+ Programme in cooperation with the Ministry of Higher Education and Science. The Ranking of Technical University Programmes is developed by two institutions: The Foundation for the Development of the Education System in cooperation with Educational Foundation – Perspektywy, responsible for the biggest Polish higher education ranking. Both institutions closely cooperate with the Ministry of Higher Education and Science of the Republic of Poland.