Post Conference Note

Over 160 experts on university rankings and representatives of academic world from 50 countries met in Berlin 6-8 October 2010 at the IREG-5 Conference: The Academic Rankings from Popularity to Reliability. The Conference was organized by the IREG Observatory on Academic Ranking and Excellence and the Centre for Higher Education Development CHE in cooperation with the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and with support of German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).

Opening the conference Jan Sadlak, President of IREG Observatory pointed out that for rankings “to be popular is not enough, rankings have to be reliable and relevant”. In order to be credible they themselves must observe high standards, be transparent and become more inclusive; they have to “smarten up”.

The importance of the work carried out by experts on rankings was stressed by Peter Greisler, head of Directorate Universities of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, who remarked that if IREG didn't already exist, it would have to be invented.

Several “hot” ranking issues were presented and discussed at the conference.  Gero Federkeil of the CHE Centre for Development of Higher Education spoke of the on-going EU financed project U-Multiranking and pointed out that the project generates broad interest. Over 150 institutions in Europe, Asia and Latin America expressed interest in participation in a pilot test. Alex Usher (Canada) and Peter Okebukola (Nigeria) spoke about academic rankings in developing countries. Mark Marhl (Slovenia) discussed the issue of the “third mission” in academic rankings, and Waldemar Siwinski (Poland) spoke about the need to build a bridge between international and national rankings.

Academic rankings are becoming an effective tool in the process of improvement of the quality of higher education and research. In order to assure that they meet the high standards, IREG Observatory announced that it would carry out - on a voluntary basis – an audit of some of the main international and national rankings.  The purpose of the audit, conducted by independent academic team will be to verify if a ranking under review is prepared professionally, observes good practices and provides students, their parents and employers with information that allows them to compare and assess, on the national or international level, programs offered by higher education institutions. Rankings that pass the audit will be entitled to use the "IREG Approved" label. The audit principles and procedures before taking a final form will be open for public consultations until the end of November on the IREG Observatory website.

IREG Observatory on Academic Ranking and Excellence is an association of ranking organizations, universities and other organizations, interested is the improvement of the quality of international and national rankings of higher education. At present, it has 15 member organizations from Europe, Asia and North America. The conference in Berlin was the 5th gathering of experts on academic rankings. Previous IREG meetings took place in Warsaw in 2002 (IREG-0), Washington in 2004 (IREG-1), Berlin in 2006 (IREG-2), Shanghai in 2007 (IREG-3), Astana in 2009 (IREG-4). The next IREG-6 Conference will be held in Taipei in April, 2012.

Jamie P. Merisotis, President of the Lumina Foundation and former Director of Institute for Higher Education Policy (USA) and Detlef Müller-Böling, former Director of CHE (Germany), for their significant contribution to the creation of IREG were distinguished by Jan Sadlak, President of IREG Observatory with medals and Honorary Membership of the IREG Observatory on Academic Ranking and Excellence.

The General Assembly of IREG Observatory that convened following the conference accepted and welcomed the National University of Singapore as its new member. Several other organizations expressed interest in joining the association.

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