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GLOBAL
U-Multirank passes university recruitment goal of 500
The new, European Commission-supported international university ranking U-Multirank announced last week that 540 higher education institutions had registered to participate, exceeding its goal of 500. Registration was “still open, but space is limited”.

The multi-dimensional ranking said in a statement last week that higher education institutions from more than 60 countries would be in the initial listing to be published for the first time in early 2014.

“The currently registered institutions represent a balanced sample in different ways. In line with recruitment targets, about 75% are in the European Union (EU) and 25% in non-EU countries,” said the release.

“Different profiles of higher education institutions will take part in the first round of U-Multirank, for instance, universities of applied sciences and universities with a technical profile (around 12% each), comprehensive (around 50%) and specialised universities etcetera.

“A large number of research-intensive universities are also represented.” U-Multirank has bumped up against some resistance from research institutions, with criticism led by Britain, home to the companies producing two of the top global rankings, and by Europe’s League of Research Universities.

A milestone

“This is a major milestone for the project,” said Professor Frank Ziegele, director of the Centre for Higher Education in Germany, which is leading the U-Multirank consortium with the Centre for Higher Education Policy Studies at the University of Twente in The Netherlands.

“But we will not stop there. Registration will remain open via our website, so institutions that wish to participate can still apply. They will be advised on the next steps in the coming weeks and data collection will begin in late June.”

Professor Frans van Vught, of the Center for Higher Education Policy Studies, added in the statement: “We are very happy with this broad interest in U-Multirank. It shows that this will really be a global ranking for a large variety of higher education institutions.”

Other partners in the consortium include the Centre for Science and Technology Studies at Leiden University, academic publisher Elsevier, the Bertelsmann Foundation and software firm Folge 3.

U-Multirank, which was launched in Ireland in January, is being funded with €2 million (US$2.6 million) for two years by the European Commission from the Lifelong Learning Programme. There is the possibility of another two years' funding from 2015-16.

The latest phase of recruitment and data collection follows a feasibility study conducted in 2011, based on work with 150 institutions from Europe and around the world, which concluded that the concept and implementation of a multi-dimensional ranking were realistic.

U-Multirank says that it is different from existing rankings because it is multi-dimensional and will rate universities according to a broad range of indicators in five areas: research, teaching and learning, international orientation, knowledge transfer and regional engagement.

The first listing, said last week’s statement, will focus on institutional and field-based rankings, including mechanical and electrical engineering, business and physics.

“Not all fields exist in all of the registered institutions; physics, mechanical engineering and business each are offered by 40%-50% of the participants, electrical engineering is offered by more than 65%.”

European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth Androulla Vassiliou described U-Multirank’s start as impressive.

“The high level of interest expressed by universities and other institutions worldwide is proof that there is a demand for a new type of university ranking that is multi-dimensional, transparent and adaptable to the needs of different types of user,” said Vassiliou in the release.

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