Ranking the university
On this page you will find a Recommendation paper and an administrative response from Universities of The Netherlands. Universities of the Netherlands (UNL) has asked our expert group for an opinion on issues associated with university rankings in relation to Recognition & Rewards (R&R), a national programme in the Netherlands that aims to more broadly recognise and reward the work of academic staff (for more details on this initiative, see the position paper ‘Room for everyone’s talent’).
We were also asked to propose solutions to these issues. As an expert group, we focus mainly on so-called league tables in the present opinion. These are one-dimensional university rankings that claim to reflect the overall performance of a university. Our opinion shows that league tables are unjustified in claiming to be able to sum up a university’s performance in the broadest sense in a single score. There is no universally accepted criterion for quantifying a university’s overall performance, and a generic weighing tool cannot do justice to a university’s strategic choice to excel in specific areas. Research, education, and impact achievements cannot be meaningfully combined to produce a one-dimensional overall score. Any attempt to do so will run into arbitrary and debatable decisions about how performance in these three core tasks should be weighted. Is research more important than education? Or is it the other way around? When a weighting system is applied that emphasises one of those core tasks, universities that excel in a different task are disadvantaged.
Het ranken van de universiteit NLPublication
Ranking the university ENGPublication