Spice of academic life

July 1, 2010

We were a little surprised to see how our U-Multirank project was described in THE ("'Serious defects' apparent in 'crude' European rankings project", News, 24 June) - all the more so since the criticism was based on a paper written by someone from an organisation helping with the project, the League of European Research Universities (Leru). Leru itself will probably be surprised to be associated with such a critical perspective.

We have just returned from the launch of that Leru paper in Brussels last week. It was highly positive about our completed U-Map project, which maps the diversity of European universities. Leru is also participating in and cooperating with U-Multirank, which aims to recognise this diversity.

We agreed that there are many kinds of universities with different missions, structures, profiles and specialisations. The success of national - and European - higher education depends on excellence across institutions with differing missions, variously focused upon widening participation, knowledge transfer, regional engagement or pedagogic excellence as well as world-class research.

We hope THE will join us by incorporating this understanding of diversity in excellence into its own rankings system, and contribute to maximising European universities' contributions to the emerging knowledge economy.

Frans van Vught and Paul Benneworth, Center for Higher Education Policy Studies, University of Twente, the Netherlands, On behalf of the U-Multirank Consortium.

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