Participation in IREG and highlights
Between the 8 th and 10 th of May, Jacques Marcovitch presented the Metricas Project’s results from 2017 to 2019, and planned activities to 2022 at the IREG Observatory on Academic Ranking and Excellence at the University of Bologna. IREG is the global organisation responsible for the oversight of rankings, bringing together researchers, senior university management, representatives from Higher Education funding bodies and the heads of rankings agencies themselves.
This article presents a few highlights from the conference that are specifically relevant to the Brazilian context.
Dirk Van Damme, Senior Counsellor at the OECD highlighted the problem with rankings that they restrict the diversity of institutional models and missions, something that has regularly been a concern for Brazilian institutions; only relatively few universities intensive in research are valued in the global rankings game. He points out that actual attainment levels from degrees are poorly reflected by rankings, and questions whether the rankings have not become too important as policy drivers in many countries
Sumathi Subramaniam, policy officer at the European Commission further spoke about the impact of rankings, and specifically the data needs of the European Union for higher education; in strengthening systems of higher education, reaching population goals, encouraging mobility through Erasmus+. She highlighted the importance of U-Multirank in supplying these data needs in a more inclusive, diverse way, making it a powerful policymaking tool.
Daniel Guhr presented a comprehensive and interesting story of the history of rankings
Raghu Raman, of the Amrita School of Business (India) emphasised that for Indian universities, rankings are important drivers for institutional visibility and improvement, meaning that universities, rather than reacting with conservatism, are determined to be early adopters of ranking methodologies.
Cesar Wazen explained how Qatar University is launching an ambitious bid with predictive analytics to enter into global university rankings, attempting to drive university policy on this basis
Alexander Bedny and Nikita Avralev from Lobachevsky University presented Russia’s extremely focused 5 in 100 Excellence Initiative, which has as KPIs; appearance in top 100 of world rankings, average citation impact, number of articles and international staff and students.
Gianna Fregonara presented an overview of the media’s treatment of rankings, highlighting the importance of understanding the identity and motivation of ranking bodies, before highlighting the various media narratives that are spun from ranking results. Finally, she concludes that boycotting rankings is nonsensical, but that there is a need to engage journalists better to improve the quality of coverage.
Richard Holmes presented a critical view of rankings, pointing out their inconsistencies and defects, the fact that the level of these inconsistencies appears not to affect the popularity of a ranking. He pointed the way forward as being universities taking control of the narrative, and separating ranking production, auditing and publication.