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CHE’s international ranking of universities: Extension to the Netherlands and Flanders

The Centre for Higher Education Development (CHE), Germany, has made a further step in its ranking of European universities by starting a pilot project to cover Dutch and Flemish universities and hogescholen. The project is financed by the European Commission and conducted in cooperation with the Centre for Higher Education Policy Studies (CHEPS), in the Netherlands. Its results will be available in 2007.

CHE has been ranking German universities since 1998. The new initiative is to enhance the Centre’s efforts in the internationalisation of the ranking, which started in 2004 with the inclusion of first the Austrian and then the Swiss universities. In order to take into account differences in higher education systems and academic cultures of the countries involved, CHE cooperates with competent partners in the participating countries.

Comparative information on European higher education institutions becomes increasingly important in the context of the Bologna process and the emerging European higher education area. Yet, up to now there is no European ranking to provide students with reliable information on higher education institutions within Europe. The existing world rankings (Shanghai ranking, Times Higher Education Supplement World Ranking) focus on research and are perceived by some as having severe methodological flaws. In its approach to ranking, CHE focuses on the information need by (prospective) students to find a university. It:

  • does not rank whole institutions but strictly relates to single academic fields/disciplines;
  • does not calculate one’s overall score out of weighted indicators but offers a multi-dimensional ranking instead, leaving the selection and weighting of indicators to the preferences of the users;
  • does not follow a league-table approach but orders universities in three rank groups for each indicator.

The extended project for non-German speaking countries/regions is a challenge. Swiss universities have opted out because they considered that the multi-cultural and multi-lingual environment was not sufficiently taken into account. Hopefully, the new steps will be more successful in this regard.

More about CHE’s ranking – in German
CHE’s ranking – in English