UOCThe Universitat Oberta de Catalunya organises the 1st International Seminar on Higher Education Rankings and e-learning, which will take place in Barcelona at Caixa Fòrum, Spain, on 22–23 September 2011. For questions on this event, please contact Universitat Oberta de Catalunya directly.
University rankings have been around for at least a couple of decades now, with some sources making a case that they go as far back as the XIV century, implicit in the recognition of the Universities of Prague, Paris and Oxford as the sole of university textbooks of the time. Be that as it may, higher education performance evaluation tools have since proliferated, both at the regional and international level.
No matter what the criticism levied against the various rankings now being produced, it is undeniable that they provide, in one form or another, useful instruments for benchmarking. 
Rankings, nonetheless, have so far not kept abreast of the profound changes in higher education brought about by the opportunities offered by the ICTs, and have not – with counted exceptions – included online education in their studies.
Today most universities have, to varying degrees, adopted the Internet as a delivery mode to complement their traditional teaching.  A few universities actually teach exclusively online, and there are staggering growth perspectives in the online student population as internet-based education gains legitimacy and is being identified as a rigorous, viable and economically sustainable alternative to residential universities.
Are rankings likely to focus on eLearning in the near future? If so, what parameters will be employed and who will be defining those? What impact will they have on online education?  If not, are present rankings of any use to online education institutions for benchmarking purposes?