CHERPA – the Consortium for Higher Education and Research Performance Assessment – is a European network of leading institutions in this field: the CHE – Centre for Higher Education Development (Gütersloh, Germany), the Center for Higher Education Policy Studies (CHEPS) at the University of Twente (Netherlands), the Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS) at Leiden University (Netherlands), and the research division INCENTIM at the Catholic University of Leuven (Belgium). Fifth partner in the project is the Observatoire des Sciences et des Techniques (OST) in Paris. The European Federation of National Engineering Associations (FEANI) and the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD) are also associated with the project.
In the project, a design for a global ranking of higher education institutions will be developed which avoids the flaws and deficits of existing international rankings and which should provide a valid, fair comparison of institutions. The design will follow the “Berlin Principles on the ranking of higher education institutions” which stress the need to take into account “the linguistic, cultural, economic and historical contexts of the educational systems being ranked”.
The basic approach underlying the project is to compare only institutions which are similar and comparable in terms of their missions and structures. Therefore the project is closely linked to the idea of a European classification (“mapping”) of higher education institutions developed by CHEPS. The feasibility study will include focused rankings on particular aspects of higher education at the institutional level (e.g., internationalization and regional engagement) on the one hand, and two field-based rankings for business and engineering programmes on the other hand.
The field-based rankings will each focus on a particular type of institution and will develop and test a set of indicators appropriate to these institutions. The rankings will be multi-dimensional and will – like the CHE ranking – use a grouping approach rather than simplistic league tables. In contrast to existing global rankings, the design will compare not only the research performance of institutions but will include teaching & learning as well as other aspects of university performance. The different rankings will be targeted at different stakeholders: They will support decision-making in universities and especially better informed study decisions by students. Rankings that create transparency for prospective students should promote access to higher education.
An in depth background-interview with CHERPA-leader prof Frans van Vught on this project and its future can be read here on ScienceGuide, in Dutch.