Why Ranking is neither the Disease nor the Cure
The debate around “rankings” has two dimensions. First one relates to the issue of “quality” in education, in particular higher education which contrary to other levels of education, includes, at least at the system level, also research and more diversified functions under the so-called “third mission” function. The second dimension, relates to “university rankings” which become one of the hot-issue in recent years reflected in a title of the meeting – “uses and misuses” of rankings.
It needs to be pointed out that debate on issue of “quality” is not new one. However, it has acquired new relevance and importance at three domains – national, institutional and international. Such developments as massification of student enrolment, diversification of study programmes and institutions, combined with growing international competitiveness and globalization, lead to ‘paradigm shift’ in higher education. The search for reflecting/measuring and enhancement of quality of higher education became essential policy objectives and organizational requirements as well as the stake-holder expectations. This new paradigm has created its own dynamics of information.
Appearance of university rankings, particularly at the international ones, has been a direct response to this new dynamics. The presentation will explore why rankings have quickly become recognized as a valuable addition to quality assurance debate and policy practice. It will also present the most recent developments in university rankings and the role assumed by the IREG Observatory on Academic Ranking and Excellence Academic, especially a recently adopted which is expected to enhance the transparency about rankings, give users of rankings a tool to identify trustworthy rankings, and improve the overall quality of rankings.