Prince Sultan University PSU
Policy Management System
Benchmarking Policy

Policy Code: QA0004
Policy Name: Benchmarking Policy
Handler: DQAD (CSI)
Date Created: 15 August 2020
Date of Current Review: 15 August 2020
Approved by: University Council
Date of Approval:


Prince Sultan University (PSU) strives in providing quality education to its students, which is at par with other reputable universities around the world. To validate this, PSU compares its academic and administrative processes to analogous universities, both local and international; to track to what extent PSU is on course to achieve its vision. Prince Sultan University (PSU) believes that KPI (Key Performance Indicators) and benchmarking should be embedded in practice within all key areas of the University for continuous improvement. Adherence to benchmarking policy ensures efficient and effective evidence-based decision practices which are inevitable for this outcome.


The purpose of the benchmarking policy is to provide clear guidance on all activities, warranting that the benchmarking process at PSU is advanced in a synchronized, cautious, and systematic manner.


This Policy applies to university key provisions and processes including management structures, academic programs, primary and support services, and all KPIs (program, college, and institutions) which are either a part of or affiliated with PSU. The scope also entails collection of benchmarking data from all relevant academic and non-academic departments internally or with other institutions that PSU has an agreement of DATA sharing.


Benchmark: A benchmark is a point of known elevation marked for the purpose of surveying. In academic and industry organizations, a benchmark is a target level of performance for a given KPI or a metric.

Key Performance Indicators: A Key Performance Indicator is a metric used to measure and evaluate the success of the organization in some or all areas of engagement. A KPI must be measurable or written in a way designed for assessment. When benchmarking and analysis are used in tandem, they provide evidence for assessment to guide judgments and decision-making.

KPI Analysis: Refers to a comparison and contrast of benchmarks to determine strengths and recommendations for improvement.

Benchmarking: Refers to the process of studying, comparing, and reviewing data or best practices against similar data or best practices in use by other Colleges, Universities, or similar HEIs. In concert with the NCAAA terminology and nomenclature practices, benchmarks are boxed into the following set of typologies: Actual Benchmark: Refers to the current level of achievement or performance indicated by the value of the KPI for a particular benchmark in the organization.

External Benchmark: Refers to a benchmark from another similar institution or program with which performance is being compared.

Internal Benchmark: Refers to benchmark from another entity in the same organization or institution. Comparable performance of previous year KPI may also be used as Internal Benchmark.

Target Benchmark: Refers to the anticipated performance level or desired outcome (goal or aim)1 for a KPI as exampled above.

New Target Benchmark: Refers to the establishment of a new or desired performance level or goal for the KPI that is based on the outcome of the KPI analysis.

Memorandum of Understanding (MOU): An MOU is a document that records the common intent of two or more parties where the parties do not wish to assume legally binding obligations. An MOU is usually less complex and less detailed than a contract, but provides a framework and set of principles to guide the parties in undertaking a project or working arrangement

Higher Education institutions (HEIs) are independent, self-governing bodies active in teaching, research, and scholarship. Higher education institutions include traditional universities and profession-oriented institutions.


In order to maintain quality standards and continuous improvement initiatives across its academic entities, Prince Sultan University encourages benchmarking or external referencing with comparable institutions to monitor planning and continuous improvement. PSU ensures a periodic review of the University’s data against the comparators to allow cross-university comparisons which are crucial in developing and implementing action plans as required to sustain the University comparability to other distinguished organizations.

For External Benchmarks, each program and institution (PSU) should identify and use two external benchmarks:

Competitive - Local/National/Regional: This allows for a form of benchmarking in terms of university’s mission; size, type of institution, research productivity, staffing levels, enrolments, and any other factors.

Aspirational – International: This allows for a form of benchmarking in terms of the university’s mission strategically to be envisioned by Saudi Vision 2030.

The University's benchmarking process has three phases:

Phase 1: Pre Benchmarking – Each program and institution identifies the local and international HEIs that have similar data and best practices. The local benchmarking partners should have a good number of analogous degree programs and roughly similar numbers of graduate and undergraduate students. Moreover, the HEI should have higher rankings than PSU in reputable ranking for academic institutions.

Phase 2: Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) -PSU negotiates and signs a Benchmarking Agreement (MOU) with the identified institutions that should address all points of cooperation. The areas of benchmarking may include:

Teaching & Learning Practices and KPIs
Progression and Graduation rates
Research Practices and KPIs
Quality Assurance Practices and KPIs
Learning resources and facilities
Curriculum Development and Review Processes
Teaching pedagogies and Assessment procedures and practices
Based on the agreement, a detailed plan and budget are prepared. In case of International Institutions, the International Affairs Office (IAO) may play a role in negotiating agreements.

Phase 3: Executing the Benchmarking Plan: Based on the signed agreement, the Center for Statistics and Information (CSI) at PSU and the second party execute the benchmarking plan through direct or online meetings. A detailed report should be prepared and submitted to PSU administration.


Center for Statistics and Information (CSI): prepares all necessary data (Institutional and some Program Level) for KPIs to be benchmarked with other HEIs. The time period of exchanging the data is the beginning of the academic year. CSI also collaborates with academic leaders across all levels of PSU (i.e., institutional, college, program) to prepare Benchmarking Reports and submit it to higher management.

Colleges/Departments/Programs: prepare their own data not covered by CSI to be benchmarked with.

Information Technology Center (ITC): ensures that the technology is available for online communication with identified partners.

Office of Vice Rector for Administrative & Financial Affairs (OVRAFA): allocates budgeted funding for visiting other LHEIs in case of face-to-face benchmarking meetings.

After exchanging the institutional benchmarking data, SPDC, and the QAC within DQAD will coordinate with the CSI in analyzing the data and provide proper recommendations for continuous improvement.

However, the academic leaders of all the programs analyze the data and coordinate with SPDC, QAC and CSI within DQAD in case any institutional support is required.