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U- Multirank’s third global university ranking – bigger, broader, more mobile

The multi-dimensional ranking system, funded by the European Commission, that aims to alleviate traditional ranking systems’ discriminatory pitfalls, adopting a variety of disciplinary indicators, has recently released its third, annual and most extensive ranking to date.

Outsizing previous editions, results deliver insights into 1300 universities, representing over 90 countries, 3250 faculties, 10700 study programs and 13 subject areas.  Significantly, the current edition now incorporates the fields of social sciences and humanities and allows for a fairer comparison of a wide variety of subject areas.  The opportunity to now globally compare across an extended spectrum of 31 performance indicators and 39 subjects levels, which were in part generated by one of the world’s largest student surveys, provides users and students with a comprehensive and unique tool for creating meaningful assessments. Doing away with league tables, U- Multirank banks on a unique web comparison tool allowing users to build customized rankings across numerous criteria and performance dimensions - it now complements its innovative and user centred approach with the launch of a mobile version enabling compilation of rankings and data exploration on demand.   

The ranking reveals that European universities place at the global top in terms of regional impact. These findings are affirmative for ambitions embedded in the Agenda for Modernisation of Higher Education, that aims  to give central importance to the role of universities as drivers for regional growth and social cohesion. The effectiveness of universities in advancing national and regional innovation often does not go far enough though – a consultation by the Commission showing three-quarters of respondents supported increased EU level cooperation in this field, but only a small proportion identifying universities to play a strong role in regional impact.

Taking a closer look at U-Multirank’s readymade rankings and its 10 lists of top 25 higher education performers, the category ‘Research’ illustrates the ranking systems ability to incorporate diversity - showing the US to lead in research when applying indices as ‘top citations’, but failing to keep up in comparison to European and Asian universities in the category of knowledge transfer, measured by interdisciplinarity in research. The lists show for ‘student mobility’ performance, when going beyond geographic metrics, business schools place at the top and the most supportive learning environments, signified by student-staff ratios, are found in the EU in Belgium, Germany, Italy, Poland and Spain and further in Brazil and Japan.  

U-Multirank, commencing activities in 2014, now not only provides the world’s largest global ranking for universities but exemplifies a fair chance to reflect comprehensively on excellence beyond linear league tables – yet this does not assume a reconciliation of criticisms and pressures for higher education to rise to the top of the ranks on a stage of global competition. 

U-Multirank, press release
European Commission