Report on Rankings from the Netherlands

In recent years there has been considerable concern about the impact of international rankings, especially the well-known ones, on higher education. This has led in some cases to announcements of a withdrawal of cooperation.

A recent “recommendation paper” by a group of Dutch experts was prepared by a group of Dutch experts for Universities of the Netherlands in relation to the Recognition and Rewards programme that aims to promote the inclusive assessment of faculty achievements.

The report discusses only the three well-known global rankings: the QS World University Rankings, the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings, and the Academic Ranking of World Universities (Shanghai) and suggests that these are undermining the Recognition and Rewards system.

It is argued that league tables should be used by Dutch universities only for marketing purposes and that the universities should support the More than Our Rank programme and U-Multirank.

At the national level government agencies should avoid using league tables and should not participate in surveys and consulting services.

In the long term at the International/European level the report proposes:

  • Using league tables for marketing only if they are fully transparent.
  • Publishing a statement on the problems of such rankings
  • Providing data only to fully transparent rankings
  • Supporting the development of open multidimensional alternatives.

The report while taking a critical look at rankings admits they can serve as useful instrument:  “rankings do play a role, potentially, in attracting students and researchers from the Netherlands and abroad.” And “A high score in a subject ranking is often mentioned in information about the study programmes concerned. If a university does not provide information on rankings, students tend to look up this kind of information themselves or actively request it from the university. Universities are constantly working on their image and rankings are useful instruments to help them in this regard”



Universities of the Netherlands

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