Academics censure university rankings / News / The Foreigner

Academics censure university rankings. Norway’s poor performance in the international rankings has caused some stone pitching from the academic glass towers. The recent Times Higher Education ‘World University Rankings 2012-13’ put the University of Oslo below 200 in the polls. Last year the University of Oslo (UiO) was ranked at 181. Bergen’s university (UiB), Trondheim’s University of Science and Technology (NTNU), the University of Tromsø (UiT) were placed between 226-250, 251-275, and 301-350, respectively. Kristiansand and Stavanger were not included in the listings.

norwayuniversityrankings, norwayeducation, worlduniversityrankings



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Academics censure university rankings

Published on Friday, 5th October, 2012 at 15:25 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson and Lyndsey Smith      .
Last Updated on 5th October 2012 at 15:37.

Norway’s poor performance in the international rankings has caused some stone pitching from the academic glass towers.

Mortarboard
Mortarboard
Photo: Heath Doman/Shutterstock Images


The recent Times Higher Education ‘World University Rankings 2012-13’ put the University of Oslo below 200 in the polls. Last year the University of Oslo (UiO) was ranked at 181.

Bergen’s university (UiB), Trondheim’s University of Science and Technology (NTNU), the University of Tromsø (UiT) were placed between 226-250, 251-275, and 301-350, respectively. Kristiansand and Stavanger were not included in the listings.

UiB rector Signmund Grønmo is displeased with his institution’s ranking, and calls it “unfortunate” regarding the university’s profiling.

However, he explains to Norwegian business daily Dagens Næringsliv (DN) that this year’s lower-than-2011 position is “because we have over-reported numbers of students. We have given the total number, whilst it’s just the graduate programme students that should be counted.”

“As a result, it seems as though we have too many students per teacher, which counts negatively.”

UiO rector Ole Petter Ottersen agrees the rankings are hard to ignore, even though their educational programmes are not devised with these in mind.

“The figures don’t show that we have deteriorated, but that other universities have improved.”

According to University of Tromsø communications director Asbjørn Bartnes, “we’re also happy to be amongst the best universities younger than 50 years old. We’re being compared to much older institutions that have spent many years building a good reputation.”

Sveinung Skule (‘school’ in nynorsk), director of the Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation, Research, and Education (NIFU) questions the Times Higher Education investigation’s durability. He argues Norway’s universities’ rankings rise and fall, and indicators used change annually.

“The whole thing’s almost a scandal,” declares UiO Professor Bjørn Stensaker, also attached to NIFU. “There’s obviously something fishy about the methodology here.”

Minister of Education and Research Kristin Halvorsen declares in a statement, “I would still emphasise that Norwegian education and research are doing well internationally even though we must always have the ambition of coming better.”

Officials point out that the rankings are just one of several international surveys, arguing the UiO rose in the 2012 Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), commonly known as the Shanghai Ranking from 75 to 67.
Kristin Halvorsen added about the Times Higher Education rankings, however, “the [Norwegian] universities will certainly consider the results carefully to see what they can improve.”

The Foreigner asked rankings editor Phil Baty in an email to comment about the University of Oslo Professor Bjørn Stensaker’s remarks about their methodology.

“In essence, we use 13 separate performance indicators to cover the full range of a university’s activities, including teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook,” he writes in an email. “Our exercise involves the analysis of 50 million research paper citations to around 6 million research papers in around 13,000 journals.”

“All our data is collected and analysed by Thomson Reuters. Thomson Reuters collect about 100,000 data points on several hundred universities, and we have polled almost 50,000 academics since 2010. No ranking methodology is perfect, and none can capture the full range of a university’s activities,” he adds.

Both Professor Stensaker and the Minister of Education say the TSL rankings are one of several in the world (Shanghai). What sets the TSL one apart from this/these others?

“Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings are widely regarded as the most sophisticated, comprehensive and balanced in the world. That is one reason why they are the first choice of governments, as well as university leaders and students. [They] are the only global rankings to look at a university in the whole, covering all of its core activities. The Shanghai rankings, which I admire, are much more narrow as they look only at research performance in the sciences.”

How much emphasis does the international academic community put on your rankings?

“Our rankings regularly attract tens of millions of internet visits a year, so they are of huge influence for students choosing institutions, but also for academics considering career moves or new international research collaborations and university leaders examining their institutions’ performance. Increasingly they are also used by governments to help steer higher education policy,” writes Mr Baty.

“It is important to stress that the Times Higher Education World University Rankings were designed by academics and senior university administrators for academics and senior university administrators. Times Higher Education is a specialist higher education magazine, and we engaged in open consultation for almost a year while devising the methodology.”

He concludes, “We carried out a poll of users asking them what they want from rankings, and we also gathered together an expert group of more than 50 leading specialists from all corners of the world. The fact that the rankings are also extremely influential with students is a welcome byproduct of our focus on providing serious, useful and trusted information for the university community.”



Published on Friday, 5th October, 2012 at 15:25 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson and Lyndsey Smith      .
Last updated on 5th October 2012 at 15:37.

This post has the following tags: norwayuniversityrankings, norwayeducation, worlduniversityrankings.





  
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