University rankings attract huge public interest. They make the headlines every year and are closely scrutinized by students, institutional leaders, policy-makers and employers. Whether respected or condemned, rankings occupy an undeniable role in the perception of higher education institutions globally. How can we explain the widespread importance and influence of rankings? Why are the criteria and methodology used in rankings often controversial?
The UNESCO Global Forum “Rankings and Accountability in Higher Education: Uses and Misuses” (16 -17 May 2011 at UNESCO Headquarters, Paris) will address University rankings in light of their impact on policy and decision-making at institutional, national and regional levels. Organized in cooperation with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the World Bank, the Forum will contribute to the on-going debate by providing a unique opportunity for representatives of the most widely observed and influential University rankings to engage in an exciting and vibrant exchange with policy-makers and key higher education stakeholders on the merits and shortcomings of rankings and the uses made of them.
University rankings will also be discussed in the context of accountability tools intended to sustain and enhance the quality of higher education. Participants will examine accountability tools that draw on a variety of criteria and expertise such as quality assurance frameworks; benchmarking; assessment of learning outcomes; accreditation, licensing and evaluation.
The Global Forum will convene representatives of the Academic Ranking of World Universities (more commonly known as the "Shanghai Jiao Tong World Rankings"), the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, and regional and national ranking initiatives such as US News and World Report in the USA and U-Multirank in Europe as well as high-level policy-makers, academics, representatives of the media, students and employers.
Participation in the Global Forum is by invitation only. A publication based on the presentations and discussions will be widely disseminated following the event.