Consider the alternative

March 7, 2013

Having read “Universities pull out of EU’s ‘unjustifiable’ U- Multirank” (News, 7 February), I scanned the Times Higher Education archive and was surprised to find almost universally negative reports about the project.

I concur with Johnny Rich (“Shine on, other diamonds”, Letters, 21 February): protectionism is likely to be a key reason for the lack of faith some universities and mission groups have in alternative rankings.

Of course, the League of European Research Universities (21 members) and the UK’s 1994 Group (11 members after recent losses) are not representative of the rich variety to be found among the more than 4,000 higher education institutions operating in Europe.

I was involved in the prequel to the U-Multirank project in the mid-2000s and have seen a fair number of presentations about the rankings system at conferences. I am also actively engaged in higher education benchmarking projects. My experience is in stark contrast with what is revealed in the pages of THE. For sure, audiences are sometimes critical of U-Multirank, but they are also eager to find out more about it and to learn from insightful comparisons of like with like.

Jeroen Huisman
Professor of higher education management
University of Bath

 

Over the past year there have been several articles in Times Higher Education about U-Multirank. Each of them has presented similar critiques about the system but have not included direct information from those who are party to creating it.

As the coverage thus far has been rather one-sided and based on secondary sources, might the magazine consider fostering true academic debate on the matter? Why not interview Frans van Vught, U-Multirank’s project leader, to give his thoughts on the subject and then find someone in the UK to present the opposing view?

This development and all those intended to improve higher education deserve a full and balanced discussion in the press.

Vaneeta D’Andrea
Professor emerita
University of the Arts London
(Writing in a personal capacity)

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