Economics of higher education looking seriously at issue of measuring HE productivity.

National Research Council. 2012. Improving Measurement of Productivity in Higher Education. National Academies Press.

Since institutional behavior is dynamic and directly related to the incentives embedded within measurement systems, steps have to be taken to (1) ensure that the incentives in the measurement system genuinely support the behaviors that society wants from higher education institutions, and (2) maximize the likelihood that measured performance is the result of authentic success rather than manipulative behaviors. (2)
"This is because individual student performance typically varies much more within institutions than average performance does between institutions. This appears to be true at every level of education. Results from the NSSE reveal that for all but 1 of the 14 NSSE scales for both first-year and senior students, less than 10 percent of the total variance in student engagement is between institutions. The remaining variance—in several instances more than 95 percent—exists at the student level within a college or university." (47)