Edition 174 - October 2015

ACA’s 47th European Policy Seminar recap: Ambivalence towards rankings?

ACA´s European Policy Seminar on global university rankings ended with a big question – are universities showing a schizophrenic behaviour towards university rankings? Based on the love-hate speak that permeated vivid discussions during the seminar, the higher education game created by rankings seems unavoidable and yet, the question remains – what about the forgotten universe of the rest, of those who cannot compete with the few best which top league tables.  

The seminar provided a variety of angles on university rankings – from an overview of global university rankings by ACA Director, Bernd Wächter, to methodologies behind rankings by Ludo Waltman (Leiden University), Gero Federkeil (CHE) and Duncan Ross (THE) to marketing (mis)practices in using rankings by Nelson Furtado (Illuminate Consulting Group) and Bianka Siwinska (Perspektywy). Shivleta Tagirova (Moscow Higher School of Economics) showed how global rankings are used in Russia for national competition and quality boost in higher education institutions. Closing the seminar, the critical voice of Professor Barbara Kehm (University of Glasgow) warned about the danger of blindly following numbers and scoreboards of a handful of ´the best´, neglecting thus the diversity of higher education institutions and their different missions. 

ACA Secretariat hopes that the seminar left the participants some food for thought on how to deal with the ranking ´reality´ and how to use rankings, if they decide to do so, to the advantage of good education, not forgetting that what is valued is not always what is measured. 

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