After the proliferation of accreditation bodies in the 1990s and 2000s, the sector witnessed the appearance of meta-accreditation. Do we – after the proliferation of rankings in the past 10 years or so – witness the first meta-ranking?

It looks like it, however I must admit it’s slightly different. It won’t be a meta-ranker, but more an accreditor of rankings. I’m talking about the establishment of the IREG–International Observatory on Academic Ranking and Excellence:

On April 18, 2008 an important decision was reached by the International Ranking Expert Group (IREG) to consolidate its partnership arrangement with the   creation of the IREG-International Observatory on Academic Ranking and Excellence.

Bob Morse, director of data research of one of the first and one of the most influential rankings – US NEWS & World Report – is one of the Executive Committee members and he writes on his blog Morse Code:

The International Observatory, headquartered in Warsaw, will conduct reviews of various ‘academic rankings’ and measures of ‘academic excellence’ to assess how well they serve higher education stakeholders and the general public. The observatory will use the recommendations formulated in the Berlin Principles on Ranking of Higher Education Institutions. Members of the body also will meet at the request of various ranking agencies to review their particular methodology criteria and standards. Ranking entities that receive observatory approval will be able to declare themselves ‘IREG Recognized’.

Especially that last item seems to point to an accreditor of rankings. But then, what gives IREG the authority to declare a ranking recognized or not? Well… at least they have some ‘recognized’ persons in their Executive Committee. Next to Bob Morse there are Gero Federkeil (CHE, Germany), Liu Nian Cai (Shanghai Jiao Tong University) and Alex Usher (Education Policy Institute, Toronto, Canada). The Committee is chaired by Jan Sadlak, the Director of UNESCO-CEPES in Romania. I wonder how this all will develop. And I wonder who will first get the ‘IREG-disapproved stamp’. Plenty of candidates…

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