Assessing the impact of student counselling service centres at tertiary education institutions: How should it be approached?
This article conceptually addresses the issue of assessing the impact of student counselling and development services in higher education institutions. It deviates from recent approaches which primarily examine the impact of selected interventions on specific indicators. In this article the question is asked whether the capacity to deliver the services can be justified to the institution. In times when higher education institutions face declining revenues, and when increasing demands are placed on education institutions to demonstrate accountability in the use of public funds, it is not enough to know that past counselling interventions have resulted in positive impacts. The institution needs to know whether the ongoing investment makes financial sense. This article, therefore, focuses on counselling services holistically as a strategic partner of the institution, and argues that their function should mainly be to support the institution in accomplishing its strategic purpose and in satisfying key strategic stakeholders. What is needed is a forward-looking role definition linked to a set of strategic impact and performance indicators as a basis for assessment. Such an approach opens up a way to view benefits not only in traditional accounting terms such as cost savings, but also as the social benefits and value-adding that takes place within the bigger strategic picture.
South African Journal of Higher Education Vol. 20 (5) 2006: pp. 655-678