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Rankings of universities

What are rankings of universities?

Rankings are seductive, simple and sometimes pretty exciting methods to chart the quality of institutes for higher education. On the basis of a number of parameters is each institute awarded a score.

One's ranking position is largely subject to the chosen parameters, the weight attributed, the statistical method used to process this data, and the reliability of the source data. For example, by changing the parameters or attributing a different weight to them, one can easily wipe the floor with any ranking. The global score however is only slightly relevant for individual output in research or education; for spearheads of research within the university, or for its scale.

Rankings are becoming an integral part of globalised higher education. Therefore the International Rankings Expert Group (IREG) was founded in 2006. By means of several basic principles (the so-called “Berlin Principles”) they aim at improving the quality and reliability of rankings, rendering them useful for internal policy and clear information.

Further reading about rankings: the article "The unbearable lightness of rankings" (September 2007, Delta magazine)

How do Belgian universities score in international rankings?

The Belgian universities get a first-rate ranking on a global scale. The largest Belgian institutes, including Ghent University, are ever present in the top-200 of more than 15.000 institutes for higher education of the world. Each year Ghent University occupies a more prominent place.

Unambiguous rankings can offer useful information about a university's internal policies. The scores of the Shanghai rankings lets one deduct subscores for highly cited authors, number of publications, or Nobel Prize winners. The Leiden ranking uses the number of publications and field-specific impact scores to rank the leading universities. Obviously higher eduction is not all data and numbers.  Because of this the OECD implemented the PISA Project concering learning outcomes for higher education.

Slightly less 'scientific' rankings are also available, such as the one published in The Scientist, e.g. their “Best Places to Work in Academia” (in which Ghent University often ranks in the top 10).

Links to the most important rankings: