UNESCO discusses unsolved questions in university rankings

08:35, May 17, 2011      

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As higher education becomes global, university rankings are more and more popular, but this trend should be applied and weighed carefully as it still has limits, UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova said Monday in at a global forum opened at its headquarters.

As higher education boomed globaly both in quantity and quality, the two-day annual forum is scheduled to discuss unsolved questions in comparing different institutions and putting them in order, which has become a trendy method to encourage universities to pursue high quality education.

However, "on the issues of rankings and accountability, the questions abound," Bokova said in her opening speech at the forum - - Rankings and Accountability in Higher Education: Uses and Misuses.

Listing problems on the drivers behind the proliferation of the rankings, the impact and scientificity of rankings, and the merited goal of this method, Bokova said comparisons between universities sometimes focus more on quantitative rather than qualitative aspects of education, and called a quality higher education with balanced research, teaching and community service.

According to UNESCO, university rankings were first used as "an information tool" to satisfy public demand for transparency and as time went on, international university rankings are widely regarded as lists of quality, evoking intense competition between establishments.

How to sensibly analyze and apply the ranking results would be a key debate during the forum, according its program.

The forum gathered hundreds of participants from all over the world, including Qian Tang, Assistant UNESCO Director-General for Education, Jamil Salmi, the World Bank's Tertiary Education Coordinator, and Barbara Ischinger, the OECD's Director for Education, along with leaders of the international rankings community and education stakeholders.

Source: Xinhua
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