Key Definitions

Definitions By The NCAAA

The following definitions are provided by the Education Evaluation Commission- Higher Education Sector (NCAAA), formerly the National Commission for Academic Accreditation and Assessment (NCAAA) to guide the evaluation of Institutional KPIs and their Assessment:

Full time equivalent (FTE) for faculty members:

1 FTE equals what the Ministry of Education (MoE) defines as a full-time load for faculty members.

Full time equivalent (FTE) of teaching staff:

1 FTE equals what MoE defines as a full-time load for teaching staff.

Note: Teaching staff include teaching assistants, language instructors, lecturers, and assistant, associate and full professors. This does not include research or laboratory assistants. Academic staff who oversee the planning and delivery of teaching programs are included (e.g. head of department, dean for a college, rector and vice rectors).

Initial Cohort :

All students who enter an academic program as first-time, full-time, degree seeking undergraduate students for the given fall semester.

Completion rate/Graduation rate for undergraduate students:

The percentage of the cohort class in a given Fall Semester who graduated within a designated period of time. For example, in a four-year program, the «Four-Year Graduation» rate for the Fall Semester 2008 cohort class is the percentage of the Fall Semester 2008 cohort class who graduated from the institution before Fall Semester 2012.

Completion rate for postgraduate students:

The proportion of students entering postgraduate programs who complete those programs in a specified time.


Refers to a performance level of achievement for a given KPI or performance indicator. There are many kinds of benchmarks that align with KPIs; therefore, it is necessary to qualify benchmarks in order to understand their relationship to a given KPI. Benchmarks may be internal or external.

Target Benchmark:

Refers to the anticipated performance level or desired outcome (goal or aim) for a KPI. For example, if the KPI is «student to teacher ratio» then the target benchmark might be 12 students per 1 teacher. A target benchmark is also an internal benchmark.

Finding Benchmark:

Refers to the actual outcome determined when the KPI is measured or calculated. It represents the actual reality of the present situation. For example, if the actual» student to teacher ratio» is determined to be 24 students per one teacher it is the finding benchmark. A finding benchmark is also an internal benchmark

Internal Benchmarks:

Refer to benchmarks that are based on information from inside the program or institution. Internal benchmarks include target or finding benchmark data results from previous years. For example, a previous year›s benchmark for «student to teacher ratio» could have been 15 students to 1 teacher and the finding benchmark for that year might have been 28 students per 1 teacher.

External Benchmarks :

Refer to benchmarks from similar programs or institutions that are outside the program or institution. For example, external benchmarks for «student to teacher ratio» could be 6 students to 1 teacher from a different program within the institution or another program outside the institution, or for institutions, it refers to other institutions (national or international).

KPI Analysis:

Refers to a comparison and contrast of the benchmarks to determine strengths and recommendations for improvement. This is sometimes called «benchmarking. » For example, KPI analysis could compare and contrast «student to teacher ratio» target and actual benchmarks from both internal and external data banks to determine strengths and recommendations for improvement.

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. For example, the new target benchmark for the «student to teacher ratio» KPI might be 10 students to 1 teacher.

Definitions By PSU

Graduate Employment Rate :

Proportion of graduates (excluding those opting to pursue further study or unavailable to work) in full or part time employment within six months of graduation. The graduate employment rate is calculated by a simple proportion between Graduates employed full or part time within six months of graduation / (All Graduates – Those seeking further education and/or not actively looking for a job).

Research KPI of PSU:

Full time equivalent members of teaching staff for the case of the Research KPI is defined internally as Ph.D. holders by the Research and Translation center (RTC), Prince Sultan University. The data for Research KPI is pooled for five years and hence external benchmark was unavailable.