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EUA Newsletter 12   24 June 2011

EUA publishes first review of main international university rankings

EUA has published a major new report “Global University Rankings and their Impact” that analyses the methodologies used in the main international university rankings and also refers to a number of other ongoing projects seeking to measure university performance.

 

EUA commissioned this report as a response to the recent growth in international and national rankings, and as a result of increasing questions from its members requesting information and advice on such rankings. The report was presented to an audience of nearly 150 university leaders from EUA member institutions and higher education experts from across Europe – as the central part of the EUA Rankings Seminar held in Brussels on Friday 17 June.

 

The main findings of the report were presented by author Professor Andrejs Rauhvargers who stressed that “higher education policy decisions should not be based solely on rankings data”. The event then included two panel debates, focusing on the report and the different strengths and weaknesses of international rankings, which involved different stakeholders from the university sector, the European Commission, ranking providers and student bodies. 

 

It is clear that despite their shortcomings, rankings are here to stay, the EUA report notes, quoting a recent European Commission report, that they “enjoy a high level of acceptance among stakeholders and the wider public because of their simplicity and consumer type information”.

 

Predicting a rise in the number of rankings in the future, the report argues that it is vital for universities and different stakeholders to be aware of the degree to which rankings are transparent, and from a user’s perspective, of the relationship between what it is stated is being measured and what is in fact being measured, how the scores are calculated and, even more importantly, what they mean.

 

The report also argues that the main international university rankings provide an “oversimplified picture” of institutional mission, quality and performance, as they focus mainly on indicators related to the research function of universities. It also makes the case that the benefits rankings offer, be it through fostering accountability or encouraging the collection of more reliable data, are outweighed by a lack of transparency and by “unwanted consequences”. Such consequences include a growing tendency for universities to invest in activities that will improve their position in the rankings rather than in core areas such as teaching and learning.

 

This EUA Rankings Review project was made possible by funding from the Robert Bosch Stiftung and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.

 

Download the full report here.

 

More information on the Seminar in Brussels and the presentation from Professor Rauhvargers can be found on the event website.

EUA welcomes two new members

EUA is pleased to announce that the Budapest Business School (Hungary) and the University of Vic (Spain) have joined as associate members. EUA now has nearly 860 members and affiliates from 47 countries. For a full list of members please visit our member directory.

 

To find out more about becoming a member of EUA, click here.

Policy and Projects News

EUA launches ‘public funding observatory’ webpage

EUA is pleased to announce the launch of a new “public funding observatory” page on its website, where it will publish regular updates on European developments in terms of public funding of higher education. Since 2008 and the onset of the global economic downturn, EUA has monitored the public funding situation in collaboration with its collective members, the National Rectors’ Conferences.
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Accountable Research Environments for Doctoral Education (ARDE) Focus Groups

EUA will launch a series of focus group meetings in the autumn of 2011 and spring of 2012 in the context of the ARDE (Accountable Research Environments for Doctoral Education) project. Building on the results of the recently completed survey on quality assurance in doctoral education, the groups will concentrate in detail on specific issues relating to the implementation of procedures in doctoral schools and programmes. The results from the focus groups will contribute to the final project report which will be published in early 2013.
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Call for participation in the pilot of the Mobility Mapping Tool

EUA and a consortium of partners invites 30 European universities of diverse profiles to scrutinise and develop their strategic approach(es) to student and staff mobility and the respective data collection that this entails. Participating universities will undergo a ‘self-audit’ facilitated through an online mobility mapping tool, peer review and practice sharing.

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Events News

Conference: The Engaged University, Southampton, UK (31 August – 1 September 2011)

This conference, organised by EUA, the European Access Network (EAN), the European University Continuing Education Network (EUCEN) and the European Association of Distance Teaching Universities (EADTU), will focus on strategic institutional approaches to lifelong learning.
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Report from 4th Annual Meeting of the EUA Council for Doctoral Education (9-10 June 2011)

The 4th Annual Meeting of the EUA Council for Doctoral Education, dedicated to the topic ‘Promoting Creativity: cultivating the research mindset’, brought together around 200 stakeholders at Carlos III University of Madrid with the common aim of looking at the structures that universities can develop to ensure and promote individual development, creativity and innovation in doctoral education.
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News from Brussels

Conference on the Common Strategic Framework for EU Research and Innovation (10 June 2011 – Brussels)

Earlier this month the European Commission organised a stakeholder conference in Brussels to mark the end of the public consultation on the future Common Strategic Framework for EU Research and Innovation. The proposed Framework will, from 2014, cover all research and innovation funding currently provided through the Framework Programme for Research (FP7), the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT). EUA recently submitted its response to the Green Paper consultation and, on behalf of its members, participated actively in the debates during the stakeholder conference.
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Commission publishes Innovation Union Competitiveness Report

The European Commission has published an Innovation Union Competitiveness Report that aims to analyse the strengths and weaknesses of national research and innovation systems and “to provide solid facts on which to base national policy choices”.
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