Third Mission and Societal Impact of Universities and Research Institutes
ANVUR evaluation of Third Mission activities of Italian universities and research institutes represented the first systematic exercise in Italy.
The evaluation started in 2011 within the framework of the first round of the Evaluation of Research Quality exercise, VQR 2004-2010 where Third Mission has been defined as the openness of the university towards the socio-economic context through the valorisation and transfer of knowledge. A set of indicators were identified related not only to technology transfer (third-party research, patent activity, incubators, spin-off companies, consortia), but also to management of cultural goods.
By the introduction of the national system of quality assurance for universities Self-Assessment, Periodic Evaluation and Accreditation System AVA in 2013, Third Mission has been officially included among the institutional activities of academic institutions, alongside teaching and research. Indicators and parameters for Third Mission assessment have been increased and modified (Ministerial Decree no. 47/2013) and taken into account for the accreditation of Institutions (Ministerial Decree no. 987/2016).
An informative system devoted to Third Mission activities, the Annual Third Mission Form SUA-TM, was established in 2014. It represents a source of comparable and highly standardized data from all the Italian universities and research institutes.
With the publication of a Manual for the evaluation of Third Mission in April 2015, ANVUR has defined methodology and evaluation procedures (phases, criteria, indicators and evaluative questions). The Manual has benefitted from the expertise of prominent international reviewers and from a public consultation. Following the Manual, the informative system SUA-TM has been enriched with nearly 90 indicators built on third mission data.
In the VQR 2011-2014, the evaluation has been carried out through informed peer review, i.e. using indicators to inform the evaluation of the reviewers. A dedicated panel has been set up, the Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Third Mission (CETM) whose members have been selected from a specific register set up by ANVUR after a public call on the basis of their competences and experiences as scholars, managers and stakeholders/partners of academic institutions’ Third Mission activities.
The outcome of the panel’s work has been published in the VQR 2011-2014 Third Mission Evaluation Report and summarized in a specific section of the VQR 2011-2014 Final Report. An individual analysis was made for all the evaluated institutions.
Afterwards, the TeMI – Third Mission and Social Impact Working Group – has been established to review definitions, data collection and evaluation methods, so to enhance specificities and strategic choices of research institutes. The WG has reviewed the SUA-TM sheet for universities. The new sheet has been approved by the ANVUR Governing Board in January 2018.