IREG Observatory on Academic Ranking and Excellence project initiated the "IREG Inventory of National University Rankings" as a part of its statutory mission.

IREG Observatory aim is the improvement of the quality of academic rankings and the quality of higher education in general. Consequently, it is interested in gathering information on all relevant ranking activities in the field of higher education. While there exists an extensive, in-depth literature on the international university rankings very limited information is available on national university rankings despite the fact that in many countries rankings have become quite popular.

In order to augment the knowledge on rankings, IREG Observatory has commissioned Perspektywy Education Foundation to prepare a comprehensive "Inventory of National University Rankings". Perspektywy has several years of experience in preparing, publishing and refining national university ranking in Poland. The purpose of the project has been to identify and map national rankings of higher education institutions all over the world, to presented them on the IREG Observatory website and discuss them at international conferences on higher education.

National rankings are an integral part of the world’s higher education landscape. They are much more developed than their global cousins and have longer history. The first “US News & World Report” ranking was published in 1983, preceding by 20 years the global rankings. National rankings are more comprehensive as on the national level universities operate within the same cultural and legal system and a rich body of comparable data is available. This makes it easier to define an extensive set of criteria applicable to the universities under evaluation.

The "Questionnaire on national ranking" has been prepared in consultation with the members of the IREG Executive Committee. In its final version the questionnaire is compatible with other IREG Observatory documents including the "data sheet" used in applying for the IREG Ranking Audit and the IREG Guidelines for Stakeholders of Academic Rankings project.

The data for the Inventory has been collected twice. The information on collection of data for the inventory has been posted on the IREG Observatory website and e-mails have been sent to over 4,000 institutions, members of the academic community and experts on higher education all over the world. The addresses have been provided by the Perspektywy Education Foundation and IREG Observatory Secretariat. Over 200 answers and questionnaires have been received. Most of them were not of acceptable quality. Final verification of the data received has taken place in the fall 2014.

The first edition of the IREG Inventory includes only those national rankings with the latest edition published on or after 2010. In general, only rankings that were published twice have been considered, however, exception have been made in case of some rankings published only once but by a renown ranking organizations. The Inventory of National Rankings does not include so called "rankings by country" extracted directly from international rankings.

The rankings that have passed the IREG Ranking Audit and received the “IREG Approved” certificate have been highlighted in red.

Being aware that the inventory will be published on the IREG website, rather strict criteria to qualify a ranking were applied. We thought it better to extend the list later rather than publish data that we considered not fully reliable.

Analyzing the results of the project the following conclusions have been drawn:

  • Most of the national rankings (94,55%) are addressed to candidates for students and their parents,
  • Majority of national rankings (77,78%) evaluates institutions as a whole (institutional rankings) but also rankings by fields (33,33%) and by subject (31,48) are being published,
  • Prevailing majority of rankings (57,9%) are prepared and published by commercial media companies,
  • Only in some cases (7%) rankings have been prepared and published by a government organization,
  • In most cases the main part of the rankings (92,98%) is available on the Internet free of charge on the open access basis,
  • Most rankings (58,70%) are published in a native language only. The lack of English translations makes it difficult to read them,
  • In the presented rankings two dimensions dominate: teaching (89,09%) and research (81,82%).
  • The most used data sources in the rankings are: third-party database, data not provided by HEI (75,93%), data collected from HEIs by ranking organisations or their representative (50,00%), survey conducted by ranking organisations exclusively (44,23%).

Analyzing national rankings in the countries with universities that are well represented in the global rankings (US, UK, Germany, France, China), we have found correlation between the strong position of the country in global rankings and presence of one or several renown national rankings in this country. It shows that culture of competitiveness stimulated by the rankings help keep up the quality of higher education and its good international position.

We have found that the changes on the stage of national ranking are frequent and substantial. Consequently, the Inventory of National Rankings needs to be up-dated from time to time. Therefore on the IREG website you will find two options: "Up-date your ranking" and "Add your ranking". The authors of the Inventory count on members of IREG Observatory and ranking experts in keeping the Inventory accurate and up-dated.

Warsaw, December 2014

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