UK is standing strong, not clinging on 4

September 23, 2010

"It hath been finished" and now? In essence, THE's list of top institutions does not reveal anything excitingly new. We will all agree that these "top 200" are very good universities and that they are among the top 500 or so. Also, it is nice to see my alma mater (University of Freiburg) on the list. However, compared to national rankings or other international ones, can one really show any relevant correlation? For example, there is a very poor correlation between the results of THE's rankings and the German "initiative for excellence in universities" (Exzellenzinitiative). And why should there be a correlation?

Overall, there is too much hype about some interesting data, but it is far less useful for assessing the reality than we are led to believe by THE (and by funding agencies and administrations).

Science is about assessing data, and this has been done in a rigorous way. However, science is not about football leagues (or rankings) and frankly, I don't know what to do with this very meticulous assessment.

Michael Heinrich, Centre for Pharmacognosy and Phytotherapy, The School of Pharmacy, University of London.

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