Consultation opens on new university rankings metrics

January 1, 1990

Sun rising over Earth

Times Higher Education and its World University Rankings data partner Thomson Reuters are to open a worldwide consultation on measuring research impact and innovation in global higher education.

THE and Thomson Reuters plan to engage stakeholders across the globe in a discussion of the data, methods, and  potential indicators that could be used to capture activities and performance in what is often referred to as a university’s “third mission” after teaching and research – the transfer of knowledge outside the university.

An open forum discussion will be held on 28 April 2014 at the inaugural Times Higher Education Young University Summit at Miami Beach. Rankings editor Phil Baty will chair a panel debate, entitled “Capturing research impact, innovation and knowledge transfer for world university rankings and beyond”.  

The session will be introduced by Joshua Schnell, Director, Scientific Analytics at Thomson Reuters and will include representatives from six countries: Janet Beer, vice-chancellor, Oxford Brookes University, UK; Alvaro Crósta, vice-rector, University of Campinas, Brazil; Sahol Hamid Bin Abu Bakar, vice-chancellor, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Malaysia; Gerard de Graaf, Director, European Commission, DG CONNECT, Belgium; Arun Sharma, DVC (Research and Commercialisation), Queensland University of Technology, Australia; and Euiho Suh, chair, University Evaluation and Management Committee, Pohang University of Science and Technology, South Korea.

“A university’s impact on the economy and society at large is at the top of the agenda for many institutions and governments throughout the world, but it is an increasingly central part of a university’s mission that has been very difficult to capture and properly recognise. We want to collaborate with universities, research funders, and policy makers to change that,” said Mr Baty.

“So we are very excited to be hosting this open consultation on the topic – to ensure a wide range of voices are heard across the sector around the world and that we develop rigorous, credible and robust indicators, led by our data partner, Thomson Reuters.

The THE World University Rankings at present are the only global rankings to include an indicator of a university’s “innovation”, which examines how much research income it attracts from industry. But there is a desire for a wider range of indicators. Thomson Reuters already publishes the annual Top 100 Global Innovators report which uses a range of patent-related indicators to list the “most innovative companies in the world”. In 2012 two South Korean academic institutions made the list: the Korea Advanced Institute of Technology and Pohang University of Science and Technology.

Thomson Reuters, which supplies all data used to create the THE’s rankings under its Institutional Profiles Project will seek input from the community on the collection and analyses of additional data to support building new innovation and impact indicators.

“Increasingly, universities are expected to turn their scholarly achievements into intellectual property and technologies that are thought to bring value to the university and have an impact to industry and society”, said Mr. Schnell.  “The upcoming panel at the Young University Summit will be an important step in the discussion of what metrics would provide the most value to universities intent on demonstrating the impact of their research. ”

Watch the video of the first public debate here

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