In the UK, benchmarking is widely used in the public sector. For example, the Higher Education funding Council for England uses student data to benchmark institutions in similar parts of the HE sector. http://www.hefce.ac.uk/Learning/PerfInd/2003/guide/
The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education has published subject benchmark statements, which provide a common understanding of the levels of achievement expected of students at various levels of Higher Education. These are key benchmark statements for anyone developing HE curricula http://www.qaa.ac.uk/academicinfrastructure/benchmark/default.asp
More immediately, the work of external examiners and moderating groups can be described in terms of benchmarking.
At its simplest, benchmarking is “about making comparisons with other departments or organisations and then learning the lessons that those comparisons throw up". (The European Benchmarking code of Conduct).
Benchmarking is rigorous research, with all the potential benefits that can bring. The activity that generally goes on over the course of formal benchmarking projects and the