University rankings have become a global issue. This isreflected in list of participants of the IREG conference that tookplace in Berlin on the 7th and 8th October atthe Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften.The wide range of topics debated includes ranking projects indevelopment countries, “third mission” tasks and the transparencyof ranking procedures.
Higher education institution rankings have become an issue foruniversities as well as politics and government agencies in mostcountries of the world. The 5th IREG conference, called”The Academic Rankings: From Popularity to Reliability andRelevance” is an exchange platform for 160 internationalparticipants who belong to organisations that are compilingrankings, higher education institutions (HEIs) and higher educationauthorities, or who are interested in rankings generally.
One special emphasis of the conference is on internationalrankings. Current global rankings focus mainly on the researchexcellence of higher education institutions. Less attention isgiven to listing and comparing teaching performance. The increasingimportance of other HEI performances that can be brought togetherunder the umbrella of “third mission” (such as knowledge transfer,regional integration of HEIs and the contribution HEIs make to thesociety) have generally been given little attention in the rankingsto date. According to international ranking experts, these newdemands must be taken into account in the ranking tables.
It is against this background that two European projects areintroduced at the conference. The U-Multirank project, ledby the CHE and CHEPS, is developing a new concept for amulti-dimensional and global university ranking based on theCHE UniversityRanking and will test the feasibility ofthis concept with selected pilot institutions worldwide.
The key questions to be answered by an international universityranking carried out with U-Multirank are how well HEIs arestructured with respect to research and teaching, knowledgetransfer, international orientation and regional integration. Asecond European project is focusing on the evaluation of the “thirdmission” activities by HEIs.
“The questions raised by U-Multirank are alreadycontributing to a change in the recognition of quality andperformance of HEIs,” says Frank Ziegele, director of the CHE.”HEIs are of importance for society in many ways. A university witha good regional network has a different role to play than aninternationally active research university, but its strengths areof equal importance.”
The first IREG honorary memberships were awarded at the conferenceto Jamie Merisotis, president of the Lumina Foundation, USA, and toDetlef Müller-Böling, former director of the CHE and founder of theCHE UniversityRanking.