Goodbye to AHELO?

This article was written for 'HE - Policy and markets in higher education' from Research Fortnight and was published there on 24 June. “It is hard to improve what isn’t measured.” So said Andreas Schleicher, who runs a programme to identify the abilities of school children in different countries on behalf of the OECD. Eight years ago, a similar measurement for higher education was proposed. The Assessment of Higher Education Learning Outcomes (AHLEO), as it is known, was due to be discussed this week at the sixth annual international symposium on university rankings and quality…Read more …

Dutch universities & the ranking season

Ranking season is over. Yesterday, the Times Higher published its new ranking and that also marked the end of the ranking season for this year. After the Shanghai Jiao Tong ranking, the Leiden ranking, the QS ranking and the Taiwan ranking, this was the fifth attempt to illustrate the differences in quality of the world’s universities. Whether they succeeded in this remains a question of debate. Although there are quite some differences in the results of the rankings, a few common observations can be made. First of all, it is clear that the…Read more …

Rankings and Reality

Summer holidays are over. In the global field of higher education, this also means that it is ranking season. Last month it was the Shanghai ranking, This week the QS World Universities Ranking were revealed and in two weeks the all new Times Higher Education ranking (THE) will be published. Ranking season also means discussions about the value of rankings and about their methodologies. Two points of critique are addressed here: the volatility of (some) rankings and the overemphasis of research in assessing universities’ performance. Volatility and stability in international rankings  This year’s discussion has gotten extra fierce (and nasty now and then) because of the THE’s decision to part…Read more …

European Innovation Scoreboard

Recently, the eighth edition of the European Innovation Scoreboard was published. The European Innovation Scoreboard (EIS) has been published annually since 2001 to track and benchmark the relative innovation performance of EU Member States.

What if I graduated from Amherst or ENS de Lyon…

What if I graduated from Amherst College or the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon, I was not a European citizen and I would like to pursue a career in the Netherlands? Well, the Dutch government would say I was not educated sufficiently to enter the Netherlands. You might ask yourself why? Isn't the ENS de Lyon a good school? Actually it is, according to its 72nd place in the 2006 THES rankings. No, it's not that ENS Lyon is a lousy university. It's just that they ended up on rank number 157 of…Read more …

THE Ranking 2008 by Country (again)

Like last year, I tried to look at the Times Higher education university league tables from a national perspective. I gave a score of 200 for the number one university (Harvard) and 1 for the number 200 (the university of Athens) etc., and than aggregated these scores for every country. The graph below shows that the United States and the United Kingdom are again superior in the Times rankings, followed by Australia and Canada. The Netherlands is the first non English speaking country, followed by Japan and Germany. The main difference however compared…Read more …

Classifying European Institutions for Higher Education

I'm on my way back to The Hague, returning from the EAIR conference in Copenhagen. Although lots of interesting new studies and findings have been presented there (some of them I'll discuss in later posts), I actually want to talk about a conference I visited last July in Berlin. This conference (Transparency in Diversity – Towards a European Classification of Higher Education Institutions) presented the results from the second stage of the project Classifying European Institutions for Higher Education, a project that might turn out to have a major impact on European higher…Read more …

More rankings: Shanghai Jiao Tong, Forbes (& AHELO?)

Tomorrow, the new 2008 Academic Ranking of World Universities will be officially published. Not surprisingly, it's an almost all American affair. It's rather interesting that the publication of the Shanhai Jiao Tong rankings almost goes by unnoticed, especially if you compare it to the publication of the Times Higher Education Supplement/QS World University Rankings (the THES-QS rankings 2008 will be published on 9 October). This exactly is the strength of the SJT ranking. After all, universities are robust organisations and don't change a lot in a years time. I guess it therefore corresponds…Read more …

On the use of rankings and league tables

Just before going to a meeting on rankings I saw this. It is from the proposed new immigration policy: Blueprint for a modern migration policy (pdf; in Dutch). As in so many other immigration countries, it contains a chapter on skilled migration. Here is a translation of the passage that surprised me: Anticipating the implementation of the new migration system, the government will at the latest in the first half of 2009 introduce a regulation for highly skilled immigrants. On the basis of the regulation, foreigners can stay in the country for a…Read more …

Metaranking

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…Read more …

Counting what is measured or measuring what counts?

The Higher Education Funding Council published a report on the impact of rankings in the United Kingdom. It is probably one of the most extensive studies on ranking today. The study was conducted by the Centre for Higher Education Research and Information (CHERI) and Hobsons Research and is based on a survey of 91 higher education institutions in the UK and six institutional case studies. The researchers looked at five rankings in particular, three national ones (Sunday Times Good University Guide, The Times Good University Guide, The Guardian University Guide) and two international…Read more …

University rankings and customer satisfaction

One of the main criticisms of international rankings is that they measure research quality rather than teaching quality. This is especially the case in for the Shanghai Jiao Tong Ranking. The THES Ranking uses proxies like employer surveys, student staff ratios and the number of international students in order to indicate education quality. The best known national university ranking is probably the one of the US News and World Report.  However, their proxies for educational quality (such as selectivity) can not be applied in a standardised global setting. The most ambitious project to…Read more …

THES Ranking 2007 by Country

Ok...I seriously had the intention not to pay too much attention to the THES ranking this year. So this will be the last post about it (of course not the last post about rankings in general and their dynamics). I played around a bit with the data in Excel and had a look at it from a country perspective. I gave a score of 200 for the number one university (Harvard) and 1 for the number 200 (RMIT; U of Cape Town) etc., and than aggregated these scores for every country. The graph…Read more …

THES University Ranking 2007

I have probably written more than I should about rankings, and especially the Times Higher Education Supplement list and its flaws and shortcomings, but I just couldn't resist... Here is a preview of this years results [last year between brackets]: 1 [1] Harvard US 2 [2] Cambridge UK 2 [3] Oxford UK 2 [4] Yale US 5 [9] Imperial College UK 6 [10] Princeton US 7 [7] Caltech US 7 [11] University of Chicago US 9 [25] University College London UK 10 [4] MIT US (...) 16 [16] Australian National University AU 27…Read more …