CHERPA-network based in Europe wins tender to develop alternative global ranking of universities

Finally the decision on who has won the European Commission’s million euro tender – to develop and test a global ranking of universities – has been announced.

The successful bid – the CHERPA network (or the Consortium for Higher Education and Research Performance Assessment), is charged with developing a ranking system to overcome what is regarded by the European Commission as the limitations of the Shanghai Jiao Tong and the QS-Times Higher Education schemes. The final product is to be launched in 2011.

CHERPA is comprised of a consortium of leading institutions in the field within Europe; all have been developing and offering rather different approaches to ranking over the past few years (see our earlier stories here, here and here for some of the potential contenders):

* CHE – Centre for Higher Education Development (Gütersloh, Germany)
* Center for Higher Education Policy Studies (CHEPS) at the University of Twente (Netherlands)
* Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS) at Leiden University (Netherlands)
* Research division INCENTIM at the Catholic University of Leuven (Belgium)
* Observatoire des Sciences et des Techniques (OST) in Paris
* European Federation of National Engineering Associations (FEANI)
* European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD)

CHERPA will develop a design that follows the so called ‘Berlin Principles on the ranking of higher education institutions‘. These principles stress the need to take into account the linguistic, cultural and historical contexts of the educational systems into account (…) There are multiple logics and politics at play here. On the one hand, a European ranking system may well give the European Commission more HE governance capacity across Europe, strengthening its steering over national systems in areas like ‘internationalization’ and ‘regional engagement’ – two key areas that have been identified for work to be undertaken by CHERPA. On the other hand, this new European ranking system — when realized — might also appeal to countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia who currently do not feature in any significant way in the two dominant systems. Like the Bologna Process, the CHERPA ranking system might well find itself generating ‘echoes’ around the globe. Or, will regions around the world prefer to develop and promote their own niche ranking systems, elements of which were evident in the Asia ranking (Note : classement de l’Université de Shangaï) that was recently launched. Whatever the outcome (…), there is a thickening industry with profits to be had on this aspect of the emerging global higher education landscape.

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