Are you in the game?
It is the rankings announcements ‘season’, and over the last few weeks we have been hearing the familiar announcements and reports in the media about the latest ranking release. Although I should resist it, particularly as it is part of my role to submit the data for these exercises, I am going to take a bit of a leap and tell you that I actually call it the ‘silly season’. You would think that given that it is part of my job, I would be more reverent about it, but after having done it for so long I sometimes find it difficult to do so. Don’t get me wrong, I do think they are important, and I do spend time analysing the results and dealing with ways of improving our scores without breaking any rules or circumventing what can be an important tool for prospective students and staff. However, I wonder now if we don’t have overload and dilution. I also wonder if the amount of time and effort needed to participate is really a distraction from the core roles of tertiary education, which I see as research, learning, helping to develop and participating in strong economies, and being a critic and conscience of society.
I know that some institutions have beefed up the number of people involved in the ranking exercises. At my own institution this has certainly been the case. It used to be that it was just me and my husband—who also worked here at the university—that were involved, which made for some interesting dinner conversations that eventually led to our daughters banning discussion about rankings during dinner! I can now count at least five other people who are involved, although not necessarily full time, across a couple of areas here. We are also doing more reporting to various groups, including the University Council, and including KPIs (key performance indicators) and KRAs (key result areas) related to rankings in our various plans.
Has all of this made a difference? I think the jury is still out, but I also believe that you have to be in the game no matter what your opinion is of rankings and their methodologies. In some ways it is just another form of benchmarking that we are all interested in and may be required to do.
So, what do you do at your institution and how much effort do you put into the game – sorry I should say into the ranking exercises?
Take our 30-second poll and let us know.
Finally, a bit of fun. I recently found a ranking that has been around a few years called Fortunate 500 World University Rankings. Check out the methodology used! I particularly like the Binary Growth Observation (also known as BINGO) method they use. You won’t be surprised when you see as part of their copyright statement the following: Published every April 1 since 2016. The date is obviously part of the methodology too!
1 QS: Quacarelli Symonds (QS World University Rankings)
2 THE: Times Higher Education (THE World University Rankings)
3 ARWU: Academic Ranking of World Universities
4 US News and World Report: US News Best Global Universities Rankings
5 Webometrics: Ranking Web of Universities
6 RUR: Round University Ranking
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