Forum: National University Rankings on the Rise
Background, context and objectives
Rankings have became an inevitable part of public life because universities have moved to centre stage in all modern societies. Simon Marginson, Professor of Higher Education, University of Melbourne.
University rankings and their growing importance has become a feature of our times. Along rectors and higher education institutions managers also politicians, businesspersons, students and their parents, journalists and analysts take interest in rankings; they are debated, discussed and written about. Academic rankings have become a recognized and efficient tool helping improve the quality of higher education and research.
While rankings were first prepared and published on the national level (starting with the US News & World Report) debates and conferences have concentrated on international rankings. The national rankings, however, in spite of their local range and influence, they do influence prospective students and are as important to the future of higher education as international rankings are.
National rankings relying on data provided by a unified higher education system in their methodology, may use a rich spectrum of criteria and provide a more precise picture of ranked schools and allow for more reliable comparison between institutions.
The emergence and growth of international rankings have not replaced or slowed down the development of national rankings. In some countries, rankings have been just started recently. At the same time, the existing national rankings have implemented new methodological solutions and expanded set of criteria they use.
In spite of the growing number of national rankings, there exists a generally lack of knowledge on their current state, methodology and about the ways, rankings evolve. This is in contrasts with the needs of stakeholders not only in given countries but with the needs of stakeholders world-wide. Among the latter group of stakeholders are international students seeking in-depth information on higher education.
We invite authors, publishers and analysts of rankings to the IREG Forum: National University Rankings on the Rise in Bratislava, Slovak Republic which will be held 10-11 October, 2011. The Forum will concentrate on issues related to national rankings and impact rankings make.
Here are the three main aims of the Forum:
- to present the current trends in national rankings,
- to discuss relations between rankings and national higher education systems (their impact  on the national higher education systems and choices made by students).
- to build bridges between national and international (world) rankings
The Forum, we expect, will gather many authors and publishers of the leading national rankings and main world rankings. The organizers also welcome active participation of university leaders and authorities responsible for the future of higher education both on national and international levels.
Proceedings of the Forum will be published (on the IREG Observatory website), to present the main national rankings and the trends prevailing in the field. This way the Forum will fill in the gap regarding knowledge about national rankings and their specific aspects. It will also provide context to international rankings.
 IREG Forum: National Rankings on the Rise is organized by the IREG Observatory on Academic Ranking and Excellence and the Slovak Academic Ranking and Rating Agency (ARRA) in cooperation with the Comenius University in Bratislava.
See also on the blog: IREG Ranking Audit Rules adopted, International Group Announces Audit of University Rankings, Conference on university rankings, The Academic Rankings: From Popularity to Reliability and Relevance.