IREG-5 Conference, Berlin 6-8 October 2010, will be the fifth time that representatives of the ranking organizations [“rankers”], experts on quality assurance and academic excellence as well as stake-holders and interested parties on academic rankings will meet to discus various topics concerning a phenomenon which is now an important factor in higher education analyses, policy-making and practice.
In a relatively brief time “academic rankings” have become a global phenomenon. The proliferation of rankings is one aspect of the growing demand for broadly-understood information about higher education and its institutions. Evidently, rankings are only one of a number of providers of information about higher education. At the same time research findings studying rankings demonstrate that different groups of stake-holders - politicians, employers, academic leaders, students and their families, etc. are in need of quantified evidence about quality, performance and characteristics of the whole institutions or specific study program. Attractiveness or appeal of rankings is in its synthetic interpretation of the complex phenomenon.
The growing attention to academic rankings led to a rapid growth in the number and kind of rankings. Like in the previous meetings of IREG also this meeting is going to identify and present new developments in national, regional and international rankings
If academic ranking is to be seriously viewed as informative instrument reflecting performance and quality of the institutions, study programs or other domains of functioning of higher education it also needs to meet a specific set of quality criteria. The first step in this direction has been adoption at the IREG meeting held in May 2006 of the Berlin Principles on Ranking of Higher Education Institutions. The Berlin Principles has articulated 16 standards and guidelines of good practice. Implementation of this important initiative has been one of the reasons for creation of the IREG Observatory on Academic Rankings and Excellence. The next step undertaken by IREG in improving rankings has been elaboration of fact sheet, criteria and procedures for conducting “ranking audit” in order to obtain a quality label “IREG recognized”.
It is worthy to keep in mind what such internationally renowned scholar of higher education as Philip Altbach pointed out at the World Conference on Higher Education (UNESCO, Paris, July 2009) when referring to rankings in the context of main trends in higher education; "rankings need to be taken seriously". He also mention that "rankings do not push for a competition among higher education institutions (as its critics like to argue) but they reflect growing global competition in higher education". IREG-5 is going to give a good opportunity to have a serious look at the current developments in academic rankings contributing also to a better understanding of a global competition in higher education. Participants of the conference will have first hand access to leading practitioners and world-recognized experts on university ranking, bibliometric and quality assessment of higher education.
There are a limited number of places available, and those interested are asked to register early.