1994 Group: U-Multirank will do UK a disservice

A European Commission-funded project to compare universities is “unlikely to further boost the profile of UK institutions and may actually confuse the picture for prospective applicants”, the 1994 Group has warned a House of Lords inquiry.

December 8, 2011

The Modernisation of Higher Education in Europe: The EU Contribution inquiry put seven questions out for consultation, with one asking for views on “the proposed introduction of a European universities league table - the U-Multirank tool”.

U-Multirank, developed by academics and funded by the Commission, intends to reflect institutional diversity: a report on its pilot was published this summer.

It aims not to produce a league table, but to allow students, policy-makers, employers and universities to choose their own criteria to compare institutions.

But the 1994 Group of smaller research-intensive universities says in its response to the Lords that it is “concerned about the potential impact of a new European universities league table”.

The “highly complex” ranking will “confuse applicants and will act to the detriment of research-intensive institutions, particularly those in Britain”, it argues.

The mission group says that existing league tables such as the Times Higher Education World University Rankings demonstrate the “high quality and global reach of higher education in the UK”.

However, critics argue that many existing rankings favour universities in English-speaking nations.

The 1994 Group also claims that while established rankings use data collected annually, “U-Multirank will base its 2013 results on the reference year 2008-09”.

Adam Tyson, head of the Commission’s Higher Education Unit, said at U-Multirank’s launch this summer that the project was part of a policy to counter the “homogenisation of higher education”.

He said existing rankings push institutions “towards a single model of a research-intensive university, because that is the way you climb the rankings”.

U-Multirank is led by the Centre for Higher Education, a German thinktank, and the Center for Higher Education Policy Studies at the Netherlands’ University of Twente.

john.morgan@tsleducation.com.

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