Blog do Curso de Medicina da Universidade Estadual de Maringá para a discussão de temas de Educação Médica, Educação das Profissões da Saúde e áreas correlatas.
Blog of University of Maringá Medical School for the discussion of issues of Medical Education, Health Professions Education and related areas.
quinta-feira, 12 de setembro de 2013
World university rankings: how much influence do they really have?
Brian Snyder/ Reuters/Corbis
Global university rankings are a competitive business – not only
for universities, but for the companies that research and publish them.
They are simultaneously criticised and lauded. And while few can agree
on which methodology is the most robust, there is consensus that global
university rankings are here to stay, that no ranking is all
encompassing and that their influence is growing. Students, universities
and governments are taking note and action.
The first international rankings, the Academic Ranking of World Universities
or Shanghai Rankings, were published in 2003 by Shanghai Jiao Tong
University in China. These were initially used to establish the standing
of Chinese universities internationally following the launch of a
government initiative to create world-class universities.
in today's more internationalised sector, governments across the world
are using rankings to measure their global competitiveness. The Shanghai
Rankings were soon followed by the QS World University Rankings and Times Higher Education World University Rankings.
With students and academics facing greater options and opportunities,
the existence of three ready-made lists of the world's best universities
have heightened competition the world over and governments are now
paying closer attention, even utilising rankings to make policy decisions.
has become a top priority in emerging economies and many are looking to
form partnerships with world leading universities. The Brazilian
government's national scholarship programme, Science Without Borders,
aims to send 100,000 students and researchers in primarily STEM subject
areas to some of the world's best institutions. These partner
universities were selected based on their position in
the QS and Times rankings. In an effort to ensure quality, India's
University Grants Commission also requires any foreign university
wanting to partner with Indian universities to be ranked among the top 500 in the world.
University rankings are also impacting immigration policy. With the number of internationally mobile students projected to grow
due to changing demographics and rising incomes in developing
countries, overseas students are big business. They contributed over
£10bn to the UK economy in 2011-2012 alone. As a result the UK
government is looking to attract 90,000 more overseas students by 2018.
countries looking to improve their standings in the rankings have also
opened their borders. Countries such as Denmark and the Netherlands have
changed their immigration laws to favour those who have graduated from
top global universities. In points based systems, graduates from the
highest ranked universities in the QS, Times and Shanghai Rankings are awarded more points.
a bid to make itself more attractive to international academics and
expatriates, Russian authorities recently instituted a new legislation
that will recognise degrees from foreign universities
that are among the top 300 inthese rankings. However, those students
who have not graduated from top universities or from former Soviet
republics (excluding Uzbekistan) will still need to undergo a lengthy
This development is in line with
other initiatives the Russian government is introducing to improve its
global competitiveness, such as sending more students abroad to study at
elite universities. Russia is also taking steps to overhaul its own higher education
sector as a result of its poor performance in the global university
rankings. Following an independent audit of its universities, 15 were selected to receive special grants to improve their compliance with rankings criteria.
countries such as Germany, France, Japan and Singapore have introduced
similar programmes to improve their higher education systems and build
world-class universities. In Asia in particular, the university rankings
have created a 'reputation race', which sees both universities and
governments closely monitoring the changing criteria for university
Making policy decisions based on university rankings is not a simple process. Global university rankings
have their limitations. The indicators and criteria used are not all
encompassing and often measured via proxies. There is a greater overall
emphasis on research than teaching, despite the context of rising
tuition fees, when prospective students are looking for the complete
package. This emphasis also puts universities that are more focused on
the arts and humanities at a disadvantage due to the heavy weighting of
citations to measure research influence.
Much of the controversy surrounding the university rankings concerns their methodologies
and which is the most robust – or, conversely, most gameable. There are
various shortcuts universities can take to improve their scores such as
taking on part-time professors that are highly cited.
university rankings are a tool. When using a particular ranking, it is
important to be aware of its limitations as well as its intended
audience. While QS design their rankings primarily for students,
other rankings are aimed more overtly at university leadership. Any
list only highlights a small percentage of the world's universities and
as a result, many institutions, particularly in developing countries,
are at a distinct disadvantage.
Like them or loathe them,
however, university rankings seem to be here to stay. In Asia and Latin
America, companies have begun to produce regional rankings.
And with US president Barack Obama planning to create his own own
'Obamarank' league table of US universities in an attempt to nudge down
the cost of college education, the global interest in ranking higher
education only looks set to grow.