The U15 Data Exchange: A valuable resource for institutional planning

by Kelsey Topola

In March 2011, when the University of Saskatchewan became a member of the U15—a group of the 15 leading research universities in Canada—it also became a part of the U15 Data Exchange. The U15 Data Exchange collects and uses data from U15 universities to study things such as graduate student funding, retention rates, and graduate and undergraduate degrees awarded. To do this, each university fills out reports and submits information related to a particular research topic to the exchange. This information is then assimilated and a report is produced by the exchange comparing the participating U15 universities.

For the U of S, being in the U15 Data Exchange means not only sharing its own data, but also looking for opportunities to leverage that data.

“At some point peer data comes into play when you look at institutional initiatives like TransformUS or workforce planning or the whole integrated planning process,” says Troy Harkot, director of Information Strategy and Analytics. “We are really trying to create a culture where we benchmark with our peers at some point, and data of this nature comes into play in that regard.”

Having access to this data will provide the university with more directly comparable data, allowing for better planning and decision-making. “What does it tell you if you compare the research activity of the College of Engineering with the College of Agriculture on campus? It is not very insightful data. But, if we know that the College of Engineering is third in terms of their research activity compared to other engineering schools in Canada, that is very insightful.”