160 ranking experts from 53 countries in Berlin: the fifth IREG conference staged by the CHE – Centre for Higher Education Development attracts worldwide attention
University rankings have become a global issue. This is reflected in list of participants of the IREG conference that took place in Berlin on the 7th and 8th October at the Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften. The wide range of topics debated includes ranking projects in development countries, “third mission” tasks and the transparency of ranking procedures. The “U-Multirank” global ranking project by CHE and partners is also presented at the conference. The CHE was asked to organise the conference in Berlin by the IREG Observatory for Academic Ranking and Excellence, the conference was supported by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.
Higher education institution rankings have become an issue for universities as well as politics and government agencies in most countries of the world. The 5th IREG conference, called “The Academic Rankings: From Popularity to Reliability and Relevance” is an exchange platform for 160 international participants who belong to organisations that are compiling rankings, higher education institutions (HEIs) and higher education authorities, or who are interested in rankings generally.
One special emphasis of the conference is on international rankings. Current global rankings focus mainly on the research excellence of higher education institutions. Less attention is given to listing and comparing teaching performance. The increasing importance of other HEI performances that can be brought together under the umbrella of “third mission” (such as knowledge transfer, regional integration of HEIs and the contribution HEIs make to the society) have generally been given little attention in the rankings to date. According to international ranking experts, these new demands must be taken into account in the ranking tables.
It is against this background that two European projects are introduced at the conference. The U-Multirank project, led by the CHE and CHEPS, is developing a new concept for a multi-dimensional and global university ranking based on the CHE UniversityRanking and will test the feasibility of this concept with selected pilot institutions worldwide. The key questions to be answered by an international university ranking carried out with U-Multirank are how well HEIs are structured with respect to research and teaching, knowledge transfer, international orientation and regional integration. A second European project is focusing on the evaluation of the “third mission” activities by HEIs. “The questions raised by U-Multirank are already contributing to a change in the recognition of quality and performance of HEIs,” says Frank Ziegele, director of the CHE. “HEIs are of importance for society in many ways. A university with a good regional network has a different role to play than an internationally active research university, but its strengths are of equal importance.”
The first IREG honorary memberships were awarded at the conference to Jamie Merisotis, president of the Lumina Foundation, USA, and to Detlef Müller-Böling, former director of the CHE and founder of the CHE UniversityRanking.
Experts from rankings in China, UK, Poland and Taiwan presented the latest developments in their ranking systems. There was a wide range of discussions on the indicators chosen and the overall methodology of these ranking systems (Fotos Stefan Zeitz, Berlin)