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On 9 June 2020, the 7th edition of U-Multirank was released showcasing, amongst others, that although the majority of participating higher education institutions recognised, even pre-COVID-19, the strategic importance of online teaching, and 60% of them reported online learning provisions in their strategic planning prior to the pandemic, only a minority were prepared for full online programmes. According to U-Multirank data, higher education institutions with a substantial focus on the fields of education, business studies (12%) and economics (7%), as well as larger institutions and those with a broad disciplinary scope are more likely to provide online programmes. Whereas in engineering and science fields, the share of programmes that are available fully online is fewer than 3%. In addition, the related data show that the availability of interactive learning tools and digital exams is still low, suggesting that online support on a large scale remains a challenge to address for many universities.
The 2020 edition of U-Multirank covers almost 1 800 higher education institutions (up from approx. 1 700 in 2019, and from 850 in 2014, when U-Multirank was first released), from 92 countries, including more than 5 300 faculties, and over 11 800 study programmes across 28 subject areas. The tool, although called a ranking, is not one in the typical sense in the field. Rather, it is a comparison tool, allowing to create interactive multi-dimensional comparisons across five performance dimensions – Teaching and learning, Research, Knowledge transfer, International orientation, and Regional engagement – and by grading the institutional performance from ‘A’ (very good) to ‘E’ (weak). The data included in U-Multirank are drawn from several sources: data supplied by institutions; data drawn from international bibliometric and patent databases; information and data from national databases; and from surveys of more than 100 000 students at participating higher education institutions.
In addition to multiple user customisation possibilities, U-Multirank also offers an interactive map of 100 top performing universities worldwide on the five different dimensions, including information on the experience of universities with full online programmes. A special feature of U-Multirank’s results is the Global Top 25 performing universities lists, ten of them in total, and showing that broadly speaking, well-known international research universities do indeed score high on research impact, but that less well-known insitutions perform well on other important dimensions, such as student mobility and open access publications.