Universities warned over alleged 'gaming' of rankings

Several universities are being threatened with tough penalties for allegedly providing data that would artificially boost their performance on prestigious research rankings used to allocate government funding, writes Matthew Knott for Sydney Morning Herald.

Fairfax Media understands the Australian Research Council has written stern letters to several universities warning them they face punishments for providing misleading data for their research excellence assessments. The council warned universities earlier this year that it would take the provision of any false or misleading information seriously, and that serious offences could be prosecuted under Commonwealth law.

The Excellence in Research for Australia report evaluates the research performance of universities in various academic disciplines, assigning them a score from one to five. Those with the lowest scores are judged to have research well below world standard, while those with the highest scores are judged to be among the best in the world. The results are used to help allocate about A$120 million (US$86 million) in government research grants each year and universities promote their results to demonstrate their prowess in certain research fields.
Full report on the Sydney Morning Herald site