Would you like to join our new Impact Rankings advisory board?

We are looking for people in the higher education sector who are passionate about the Sustainable Development Goals to help make our rankings fair, effective and transparent

March 12, 2021
Impact Rankings

Back in September, when we launched the methodology for the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 2021, I wrote that we would be recruiting a new advisory board to provide guidance and oversight of the methodology going forward. Now, six months later, it is time for us to live up to that promise.

What are we trying to achieve? The creation of the board is an important part of our commitment to widen the transparency of our approach.

In three years, the Impact Rankings have grown from around 500 universities in 2019 to 1,240 in 2021. The idea that universities can play – and always have played – a significant role in the drive towards sustainability is now becoming far better understood.

The rankings themselves are a complex process, from metric definitions through to calculation. Along the way we have to make decisions about how and what to measure. And we acknowledge that we won’t always get it right (and haven’t always done so).

When we were designing the rankings, we spoke to many organisations in the sector, starting with a memorable discussion at the THE Young Universities Summit at the University of South Florida in 2018. The board will not replace those discussions, but it will provide a more formal mechanism for feedback and will allow us to go into more detail than we usually can in the wider meetings.

The role of the board will be clear: to advise on the general strategy for the Impact Rankings in order for it to achieve its objectives. THE will still be responsible for the final decisions, but the board will help us to get those decisions right.

The board will meet to hear reports on current plans and activities and to give their views on these and key issues in ranking design. I would expect this to include advice on strategic direction.

The board will also be able to provide advice on priority areas and topics for the methodology and the development of new priority areas. They will be able to recommend actions or interventions to be taken to address priorities, including when to cease or reduce existing parts of the methodology. More or less, they will be able to explore any part of the methodology as they see fit.

We are now asking for people who might be willing to be part of this project as our Impact Rankings advisory board members. We are doing this through an open process because we believe that the board needs to be diverse, and not just a group of elderly white men from western Europe and North America. 

We’re looking for people who are passionately committed to sustainability and the Sustainable Development Goals in higher education. We expect members to participate as individuals, not as representatives of a particular organisation, but we hope that they will be able to provide insights from differing perspectives to make the rankings stronger. You might be leading on sustainability at a university, working on outreach of higher education or working within a different part of the sector.

Above all, we’re looking for people who can be critical friends of the ranking – who can work with us to make them as effective as possible, not just in terms of producing a fair ranking but also in helping to ensure that the rankings help universities to move forward.

The board will meet four times a year and THE will support the members with information and administrative support.

If you are interested in being a member of the board, email me at duncan@timeshighereducation.com. Applications will close on 31 March 2021.

Duncan Ross is chief data officer at Times Higher Education.

We have compiled a list of frequently asked questions about our Impact Rankings, but if you have any further questions, email impact@timeshighereducation.com.

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