'Global university rankings promote narrow version of success'

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2023 11 06 media

An independent expert group (IEG) convened by the United Nations University’s International Institute for Global Health (UNU IIGH) has called for better understanding of the limitations and shortcomings of global university rankings. - Bernama file pic

Sumber : New Straits Times

KUALA LUMPUR: An independent expert group (IEG) convened by the United Nations University's International Institute for Global Health (UNU IIGH) has called for better understanding of the limitations and shortcomings of global university rankings.

In a statement today, IEG has also called out the adoption of alternative approaches to assess and describe the distinctive attributes of various universities.

This, according to its member Marion Lloyd, a research professor at the Institute for the Study of the University and Education at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, was because global university rankings exert too much influence over higher education.

"Global university rankings exert too much influence over higher education, promoting a narrow and simplistic version of success that overlooks many of the rich and vital contributions that universities make to society.

"(And) these rankings perversely incentivise universities to prioritise short-term and sometimes unethical interventions to improve their rankings, rather than the needs of their students, staff, local communities, or of society more generally.

"The constant and short-sighted obsession with annual rankings has also come at the cost of long-term and broader goals, which is especially harmful given the serious and complex problems facing society," she said in the statement.

Meanwhile, UNU-IIGH's Professor David McCoy said: "Many of the commercial practices of the rankings industry are simply not in the public interest and result in significant resources being diverted away from core academic functions."

Following this, the IEG identified several main issues with global university rankings, which highlighted that the very idea of global university rankings is fundamentally flawed.

This, it said, was simply not possible to produce a fair and credible global league table of universities given their multiple missions and their diverse social, economic, and political contexts around the world.

"There is no adjustment made for the resources available to universities, rankings inevitably advantage historically-privileged institutions and help perpetuate global inequalities in higher education instead of raising academic standards equitably and universally.

"Moreover, the methodologies employed by the major rankers are opaque, while demonstrating a clear bias towards the English language, certain types of research, and STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), which undermines the importance of teaching and of the humanities and social sciences.

"Disturbingly, the lack of transparency over the data and scoring systems employed raises serious doubts about their reliability and objectivity."

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