Yay! [or not as the case may be…]
The new THES rankings are out. Compare them with QS or Leiden. There will be the usual tedium in the newspapers about one being especially prestigious (in some sense more than one of the others – but how?). But seriously – what is the proper, principled reason to favour one over any of the others? Inspecting this figure should be enough to immunise anyone against taking them too seriously. They are fun in a qualitative kind of way – but beyond that, consume with great care.
UPDATE: great piece at The Conversation:
The THE table differs from other rankings in its use of reputation surveys to produce profiles. However, Loukkola says that this can also count against European institutions. Reputation becomes a virtuous circle so while the most famous institutions continue to benefit, others fail to make their mark. “Reputation surveys are not always linked to pure fact,” she says. “It’s about how well a university is known. It may be that some European universities are just less well known.”
Ben Jongbloed, Senior Research Associate at the Center for Higher Education Policy Studies at the University of Twente in the Netherlands, is working with a team that hopes to produce an alternative to rankings. The project, known as U-Multirank, will publish its first results next year and will aim to provide a broader profile of institutions. Significantly, it will allow users to compare universities according to individual strengths, such as in specific subject areas, rather than relying on an overall score.
“Institutional performance on the various dimensions of a university should not be aggregated into a composite overall measure,” argues Jongbloed. “There is neither theoretical nor empirical justification for assigning specific weights to individual indicators and aggregating them into composite indicators. A justification for the weights used by the Times Higher Education Ranking or the Shanghai Ranking in producing their overall scores has not been provided so far. And studies show that the weighting systems underlying composite indicators are anything but robust.” [Emphasis added]
- The world’s top universities (smartplanet.com)
- Trinity and UCD ranked in world’s ‘best business institutions’ (independent.ie)
- Who should be in command and control of higher education? (irishtimes.com)