Between 2004 and 2006, benchmarking surveys were collaboratively developed by nursing colleagues at U21 universities for the areas of clinical teaching and research. Benchmarking surveys were distributed to academic staff at U21 organizations who were invited to rate clinical teaching and research activities in accordance to specified performance indicators. The results of theses surveys were analyzed annually over a three-year period (for the 2004, 2005 and 2006 academic-year period). Results for benchmarking have allowed for comparisons to be made between particular academics, across institutions and across specific performance indicators. It is therefore possible for an organization to focus attention strategically on particular areas requiring improvement. For example, in the research benchmarking survey, academics at the school have been actively involved in supervising research only students, either as a principal or co-supervisor. In examining these figures more closely however, it appeared that certain individuals have been more involved with this activity. Co-supervision of students, under the mentorship of a more experienced supervisor, have been implemented as an effective means by which more junior individuals can develop experience in research training. Decisions and targets have been set for particular performance measures to determine the effectiveness of strategic measures of improvement. In the clinical teaching benchmarking exercise, evidence was found that students were not sufficiently incorporated in decisions about the clinical content of their courses. Overall, the results of benchmarking have been used to improve staff development initiatives across U21 partner organizations. The benchmarking activities were conducted by Dr. Elizabeth Manias (University of Melbourne).
In 2008, during the discussion on a draft paper on benchmarking within U21 nursing, the complexity of benchmarking within an international context was highlighted, although it was acknowledged that the benchmarking template could be useful for new nursing schools. It was proposed that a working group would refine (for publication) the paper, outlining the U21 nurses' experiences of benchmarking clinical education in an international context.
The benchmarking was discussed again in Monterrey in 2010 when the University of Queensland presented a framework and some new results. Under the leadership of Professor Judy Kilpatrick, The University of Auckland agreed to take the lead on the benchmarking project and gathered some new results that were presented in Auckland in 2012, Dublin in 2013 and Shanghai in 2014. Participating universities are invited to contact the U21 HSG secretariat to see the results.
In September 2014, Dr Suzanne Campbell from the University of British Columbia agreed to take the lead on this project for the next 3 years.
In 2017, the U21 Nursing group decided to discontinue the benchmarking exercise and move on to other collaborative projects. The group do not exclude the possibility of running this exercise again in the future with some adjustments.