ireg 2019

IREG 2019 Conference

Rankings: A Challenge to Higher Education

8-10 May, 2019

ALMA MATER STUDIORUM - Università di Bologna
Giorgio Prodi Lecture Hall
Piazza San Giovanni in Monte 2 – 40124 Bologna

Program outline
(as of 14 January 2019)

May 8, 2019 (Wednesday)

Whole day

Arrival of participants

18:00 – 19:00

Accompanying event TBC

Location: ALMA MATER STUDIORUM - Università di Bologna, Rectorate,

19:00 – 21:00

Welcome Reception

Location: ALMA MATER STUDIORUM - Università di Bologna, Rectorate,
Cortile del Pozzo (internal garden), Rectorate, Via Zamboni 33 – 40126 Bologna

May 9, 2019 (Thursday)

Venue: University of Bologna, Giorgio Prodi Lecture Hall, Piazza San Giovanni in Monte 2 – 40124 Bologna

08:00 – 09:00

Registration and welcome coffee

9.00 - 9.30

Opening Session

  • Luiz C. Costa, President, IREG Observatory on Academic Ranking and Excellence, Academic Vice Rector of IESB University (Brazil)
  • Francesco Ubertini, Rector, University of Bologna (Italy)
  • Gaetano Manfredi, President, Conference of Italian University Rectors (CRUI), Rector, University of Naples "Federico II" (Italy)
9.30 - 11.00


Impact of rankings on higher education and public policy

Chair: Nian Cai LIU, Dean, Graduate School of Education Shanghai Jiao Tong University;
Member of IREG Observatory Executive Committee (China)


  • Ellen Hazelkorn, Dublin Institute of Technology (Ireland)
  • Dirk Van Damme, Head of Division, Education and Skills, OECD (Belgium)
  • Tia Loukkola, Director, Institutional Development, EUA (Finland)
  • Sumathi Subramaniam, Policy officer, European Commission, DG Education, Youth, Sport and Culture (Norway)


11.00 - 11.30

Coffee Break

11.30 - 12.00

Special guest:

  • Jaroslaw Gowin, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Science and Higher Education of Poland (Poland) (tbc)
12.00 - 13.15


Trend and new developments in global and national rankings

Chair: Waldemar Siwinski, Vice President, IREG Observatory on Academic Ranking and Excellence; President, Perspektywy Education Foundation (Poland)


  • Robert Morse, Chief Data Strategist for US News & World Report, Member of IREG Observatory, (USA): US News On-line Ranking
  • Albert Sangra Morer, Director, UNESCO Chair in Education and Technology for Social Change; Professor, Open University of Catalonia (Spain): - Creating an Online Dimension for University Rankings (CODUR)
  • Robert Kelchen, Assistant Professor, Seton Hall University (USA)


13.15 - 14.15


14.15 - 14.30

Poster session



Use of rankings in developing university strategy

Chair: Gero Federkeil, Head of Intenational Rankings, U-Multirank Consortium, (Germany)


  • Cezar Wazen, Director of International Affairs, Qatar University (Qatar)
  • Representative, University of Rochester (USA)
  • Alexander Bedny, Vice Rector and Nikita Avralev, Vice Rector, Lobachevsky University (Russian Federation)


15.45 - 16.00

Coffee Break

16.00 - 17.00


Future of Rankings - from bibliometrics to global performance metrics

Rankings have become a widely discussed and impactful component of the global university landscape. 23 currently active rankings measure performance elements such as bibliometrics, headcount data, financials, patents, social and Internet presences, reputation, and much more. To make sense of this tsunami of data and information, universities need a well-informed conceptual approach to rankings –that can be best labeled global performance metrics. This concept is based on indicators which are of high quality, unique, and useful to universities. By cross-referencing such indicators, universities are able to arrive at an in-depth understanding of their contextual performance. Rather than going away, the practice and production of rankings and their usage will continue to expand, but also evolve and improve. This move towards professionalizing the rankings landscape can benefit both rankers and universities.

Chair: Alex Usher, President, Higher Education Strategy Associates (Canada)


  • Ben Sowter, Senior Vice President, QS Quacquarelli Symonds Unit (United Kingdom)
  • Daniel Guhr, Managing Director, Illuminate Consulting Group (USA)


19.30 - 22.00

Conference Gala Dinner
Venue: Cantina Bentivoglio (Via Mascarella, 4/b, 40126 Bologna)

May 10, 2019 (Friday)

Venue: University of Bologna, Giorgio Prodi Lecture Hall, Piazza San Giovanni in Monte 2 – 40124 Bologna

9.30 - 11.00


Influence of media on rankings

Since they became a widespread phenomenon, academic rankings have had a growing media impact because they respond to a public, genuine interest on the quality of higher education.

The newspapers mention academic rankings with high coverage, but, too often, with sensationalist headlines that focus only on the universities on top.

On the other hand, journalists often complain that university press officers are only proposing a positive and improving view of the university.

The quality of the media impact of the rankings could be improved by triggering a virtuous circle between the main players: the rankings agencies and their press officers, the universities, the media in its various forms.

  • Round Table
    Chair: Martin Ince, Ince Communications (United Kindom)


  • Gianna Fregonara, Journalist Corriere della Sera (Italy)
  • Simona Bizzozzero, Communication Director, QS (United Kindom) tbc
  • Richard Holmes, Blogger University Ranking Watch (UK/Malaysia)

Ranking semantics

The quality of ranking results is influenced by how universities worldwide interpret and collect the required data. Data collection is affected by the local context and technical aspects of data storage but also by the degree to which the semantic content of the required data is described. This session presents two European initiatives of accommodation of semantic interpretation of ranking indicators and alignment of data collection.

Ten rules for ranking universities, is a manifesto edited by CWTS Leiden Ranking which sets out 10 principles for the responsible design, interpretation and use of university rankings.

The evaluation of the university performance is also the task of National agencies. The more accurate and clear the description of the indicators in the guidelines, the more the evaluation will be shared and effective.

Chair: Mirko degli Esposti, Vice Rector, University of Bologna; Member of IREG Observatory Executive Committee (Italy)

  • Hanne Poelmans, Research Coordination Office and Sadia Vancauwenbergh, Project Leader ECOOM-UHasselt, Hasselt University, (Belgium) with Luciana Sacchetti, University of Bologna (Italy)
  • Ludo Waltman, Director Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS) at Leiden University (Netherlands)
  • Adriano Scaletta, Italian National Agency for Evaluations of Universities and Research Institute (Italy) tbc


11.00 - 11.30

Coffee Break

11:30 – 12.45


Role of rankings in Latin America

The session will discuss the role of rankings in shaping the higher education policy in Latin America countries with special attention to Brazil. The presentations will discuss the indicators, the impacts and the results of the Brazilian University Ranking (RUF- Ranking Universitário Folha) launched by the largest Brazilian newspaper "Folha de S.Paulo" and will introduce a research project funded by the São Paulo State Research Council (FAPESP) to produce consistent, comparable and reliable performance indicators. The speakers will also give an overview of the use of rankings in South America.

Chair: Luiz Claudio Costa, President, IREG Observatory on Academic Ranking and Excellence, f. Minister of Education (Brazil)


  • Fernando Leon Garcia, Cetys University System (Mexico) tbc
  • Jacques Markovitch, former rector of USP (Brazil): - How to use metrics and ranking to improve management on the tree universities from São Paulo, USP, UNICAMP and UNESP
  • Sabine Righetti, coordinator of the Brazilian National Ranking "Folha de São Paulo": - Rankings in Latin America including Chile, Argentina and Brazil. (Brazil)



Closing Session

  • Mirko Degli Esposti, Vice Rector, University of Bologna (Italy)
  • Luiz Costa, President, IREG Observatory, Vice Rector, IESB University (Brazil)

Invitation to IREG 2020 Conference

13.00 - 14.00

Farewell lunch

14.00 - 15.30

General Assembly of IREG Observatory (member organizations only)
venue: Sala VIII Centenario e Cortile del Pozzo (Via Zamboni 33, 40126 Bologna)


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