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Prof. Raghu Raman represents Amrita University in IREG 2022 Warsaw Conference on 23-24 June 2022 held in Warsaw, Poland

July 12, 2022 - 3:19
Prof. Raghu Raman represents Amrita University in IREG 2022 Warsaw Conference on 23-24 June 2022 held in Warsaw, Poland

The IREG 2022 conference on Academic Rankings at the Crossroads was held in Warsaw on 23-24 June 2022. The conference in Warsaw took stock of the present rankings and analysed the ranking’s impact on higher education. The IREG conference is considered to be a very important conference in the rankings domain since a group of international ranking experts met for the first time in Warsaw twenty years ago under the auspices of UNESCO CEPES and Kozminski University. It is important to stress that the IREG meeting in Warsaw preceded the appearance of the Shanghai ranking by a year followed by QS, THE, and other global rankings. This only demonstrates how forth-sighted those experts that met then in Warsaw were.

The conference tried to answer some of the questions.

  • How much rankings are helping, and how much do they harm higher education?
  • What are their strong and weak sides as a tool for assessing higher education?
  • How to keep a healthy balance between global, regional, and national rankings, ensuring that each maintains its independence?
  • Should the present structure be maintained, where institutions provide data for free to private database owners who, in turn, sell these data back to them?
  • Isn’t it time for international organizations such as UNESCO, OECD, or the European Commission to create a non-commercial database on higher education?

The two-day conference had speakers and participants from across the world and focused on the following sessions:

  • Science and rankings in the age of uncertainty
  • Geopolitics of higher education and rankings
  • Future of higher education and rankings – global and regional perspective
  • Polish universities focus on science
  • Future on national rankings-context of data sources
  • How rankings mirror changes in universities after COVID, and what role will online teaching play

The conference attracted a galaxy of speakers from across the world. To name a few, the main speakers at the event were Isidro Aguillo, Editor of Webometrics, Head of Cybermetric Lab, Scimago Group, (Spain), Ben Sowter, Senior Vice President, QS Quacquarelli Symonds (United Kingdom), Luiz C. Costa, President, IREG Observatory on Academic Ranking and Excellence, President of IESB University (Brazil), Wojciech Murdzek, Secretary of state, Ministry of Education and Science (Poland), Prof. Michael Murphy, President, European University Association (EUA), Ying Cheng, CEO&Co-Founder at Shanghai Ranking Consultancy (China), Simon Marginson, Director, Centre for Global Higher Education, University of Oxford (UK), Gero Federkail, U-Multirank Coordinator, CHE-Centre for Educational Development (Germany), Phil Baty, Chief Chief Knowledge Officer, Times Higher Education (United Kingdom), Lu Wang, Ranking Manager, Shanghai Ranking Consultancy (China), Richard Holmes, Editor, University Ranking Watch (United Kingdom/Malaysia), Riti Fitri Sari, Greenmetrics Ranking, University of Indonesia (Indonesia) and Luiz Costa, President, IREG Observatory on Academic Ranking and Excellence to name a few.

Prof. Raghu Raman, Dean-School of Business & Director, Amrita Center for Rankings, Accreditations and Eminence represented Amrita University at IREG 2022 conference which was attended by dignitaries from across the world. He was invited to speak about “National rankings in India – their methodologies, usefulness for future students and impact on higher education” in the session on “Future of National Rankings-Context of Data Sources”.

He presented the Indian rankings and accreditation landscape and brought out some interesting statistics comparing the national rankings of Canada, Poland, Russia and other countries. He also highlighted the number of institutions participating in these rankings. He highlighted that if it was 4030 institutions participating in NIRF 2021 (the National Institutional Ranking Framework of India), it was 63 institutions in THE WUR, 28 in QS WUR, 49 in THE Impact and 35 in UI Greenmetric Rankings. He stressed that NIRF is creating an impact on Indian higher education where graded autonomy is given based on NIRF, and funds for the improvement of S&T infrastructure apart from other benefits.

He further highlighted that research-intensive institutions are adopters of international rankings and that societal impact-based rankings are gaining faster adoption. During the presentation, the concern about conflicting national and international ranking priorities was also brought to the notice of the diaspora by Prof. Raghu which was agreed to by the ranking experts present at the conference.

The other speakers in the panel were Richard Holmes, Editor, University Watch, Gillian Golden, Project Manager: Higher Education Evidence Development at OECD and Riri Fitri Sari, Greenmetrics Ranking, University of Indonesia. The session was chaired by Thomas Parker, Senior Associate, Institute of Higher Education Policy (USA).

The two-day conference focused mostly on the implications of recent global events on higher education and research, and on rankings. As the world face many new challenges like hyper-globalisation creating increasing inequalities; technological changes and the 4th industrial revolution bringing huge changes to work and life it was agreed that the new ranking frameworks will have to evolve itself embracing these changes. The demographic change and shifts in the global talent pool; and the rise of nationalism, exceptionalism, populism and social unrest with too many people feeling left behind are also throwing more challenges in the future. Concerns were also raised during the conference on whether there is a “world” higher education sector as China no longer treats international publishing as an internal “gold standard” with some of its universities exiting from ranking and Russia has also abandoned the “World-Class” aspiration embodied in its 5/100 programme.

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