Rankings and Transparency Tools

Today rankings have become the most important tool to create transparency about higher education institutions, both national and international. In contrast to national evaluation and accreditation systems, rankings offer public, explicit and large scale comparisons available to a variety of stakeholders. Yet there is still some ambiguity between the controversy about the methods of rankings and their popularity within higher education and in the broader public.

Most rankings, including existing global rankings, use one single composite indicator to measure the “ultimate” performance/quality of universities. Empirical analysis has shown that their systems of weighting indicators are anything but robust.

An alternative which was introduced by CHE and which is applied in the U-Multirank project, too, is multi-dimensional ranking. Multi dimensional ranking produces a picture of performance profiles

Another critical issue refers to the ranking of whole institutions. As the academic cultures differ much by fields, institutional rankings are in danger of reflecting more the field structure of institutions than their performance. Believing that a university is more than the sum of its faculties there is a rationale for information on the institutional level. But rankings should find more intelligent ways to aggregate indicators on the institutional level than applied in existing rankings.

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