Institutional Diversity: Rankings and Typologies in Higher Education, Bonn, Germany, 4-5 December 2006

 

An international workshop jointly organised with the German Hochschulrektorenkonferenz-HRK.

As the number of students in higher education has grown, the number of universities and other institutions, and the diversity of their missions, has grown too. They can no longer be considered as a homogeneous group.

The Carnegie Classification in the United States is being revised and in Europe a proposal for a comparable classification or typology has been launched. More recently, increasing pressure for the comparison and ranking of institutions, nationally and internationally, is having an impact on institutional strategy and priorities.

These developments raise questions about how rankings are affecting public perceptions of higher education, and the impact they are having on institutional behaviour and strategy. And they focus attention on how the rankings could be improved; and how institutions should be compared and grouped.

This workshop, which brought together about 100 participants from around 20 countries, addressed these questions and the discussions were rich.

The main conclusions were that ranking reflects an opportunistic move by the mass media to fill a gap left by the failure of higher education systems to provide information required by the market. They are a response to a demand for greater transparency in the system, but if their weaknesses are to be countered then higher education needs to provide more and better rankings on different aspects of performance, not the least of which is value-added in teaching. To achieve a good ranking system, there are methodological challenges. For example, hierarchies cannot be avoided, but the over-emphasis on a single dimension of university performance can be mitigated. Some problems were highlighted, such as the fact that for Europe there is a lack of comparable data.

Workshop Programme

Workshop presentations

Dr. Ellen Hazelkorn
Dr. Ellen Hazelkorn

Professor Nian Cai Liu
Professor Nian Cai Liu

Professor Simon Marginson
Professor Simon Marginson

Dr. Alexander C. McCormick
Dr. Alexander C. McCormick

Andreas Schleicher
Andreas Schleicher

Professor Frans van Vught
Professor Frans van Vught