ireg 2019

IREG 2019 Conference

Rankings: A Challenge to Higher Education?

8-10 May, 2019

ALMA MATER STUDIORUM - Università di Bologna
Department of History and Cultures
Giorgio Prodi Lecture Hall
Piazza San Giovanni in Monte 2 – 40124 Bologna

Program outline

May 8, 2019 (Wednesday)

Venue: Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna, Rectorate, Via Zamboni 33 – 40126 Bologna

Whole day

Arrival of participants

16:30 – 18:00
Executive Committee meeting (members only)
Location: ALMA MATER STUDIORUM - Università di Bologna, Rectorate, Giunta Hall,
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, Department of History and Cultures, 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 – 10:00


  • Jaroslaw Gowin, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Science and Higher Education of Poland (Poland): Rankings: a Challenge to Public Policy? Reflections from Poland’s Perspective.
10.00 - 11.30


Impact of rankings on higher education and public policy

Despite ongoing criticism about rankings, rankings have created profound impact on higher education and relevant public policy worldwide, and are now perceived as an instrument of measuring institutional quality and widely used by relevant stakeholders for a variety of activities.

Rankings have changed - and are changing - the ways universities, governments, and other stakeholders function, and the ways they interact with each other. In this session, experts from various stakeholders will provide comprehensive overviews of the impact of rankings on higher education and relevant public policy.

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


  • Ellen Hazelkorn, Joint managing Partner, BH Associates, Education Consultant, and Professor Emeritus, Technological University Dublin (Ireland)- In Pursuit of Prestige or Quality? The Influence of University Rankings
  • Dirk Van Damme, Senior Counsellor, Education and Skills, OECD (France)
  • Mikhail Strikhanov, Rector, National Research Nuclear University MEPhI (Moscow Engineering Physics Institute) (Russian Federation)
  • Sumathi Subramaniam, Policy officer, European Commission, DG Education, Youth, Sport and Culture (Norway)


11.30 - 12.00

Coffee Break

12.00 - 13.15


Trend and new developments in global and national rankings

The online education has become an important and growing part of global higher education system; it can no longer be left out of international academic rankings. This session will discuss (for the first time at the IREG Conference) experience of ranking online studies by US News & World Report but also new approaches and proposed indicators in this respect (example of the European CODUR Project).

The session will also include a presentation of the Washington Monthly ranking and analysis of the Global Rankings on Indian universities.

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)- Highlighting the Public Good: About the Washington Monthly Rankings
  • Raghu Raman, Chairman Amrita School of Business (India)- Influence of Global Rankings on Indian universities


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)


  • Cesar Wazen, Director of International Affairs, Qatar University (Qatar)
  • Tia Loukkola, Director, Institutional Development, EUA (Finland)
  • Alexander Bedny, Vice Rector and Nikita Avralev, Vice Rector, Lobachevsky University (Russian Federation)
  • Deborah Werner, U-Multirank Project Manager (Germany), Use of rankings in developing university strategy – the case of gender balance


15.45 - 16.00

Coffee Break

16.00 - 16.20

Partner presentation: Claudio Colaiacomo, Vice President, Elsevier

16.20 - 17.20


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 (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, Department of History and Cultures, 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, Chair of the Global Academic Advisory Board (United Kindom)


  • Gianna Fregonara, Journalist Corriere della Sera (Italy)
  • Simona Bizzozero, Communications Director, QS (United Kingdom)
  • 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, Deputy 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)


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)


  • Jacques Marcovitch, 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)
  • Fernando Leon Garcia, Cetys University System (Mexico)



Closing Session

  • Mirko Degli Esposti, Vice Rector, University of Bologna (Italy)
  • Luiz Costa, President, IREG Observatory, Vice Rector, IESB University (Brazil)
  • Beijing University of Technology: Invitation to IREG 2020 Conference
13.00 - 14.00

Farewell lunch

14.00 - 15.30

General Assembly of IREG Observatory (member organizations only)
venue: University of Bologna, Giorgio Prodi Lecture Hall, Piazza San Giovanni in Monte 2 – 40124 Bologna


IREG Observatory
on Academic Ranking and Excellence



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© 2018 IREG Observatory on Academic Ranking and Excellence