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Brussels, 15 October 2015

12 years with global university rankings - a panoramic (re)view and an update on recent developments


Global university rankings are “here to stay”, as some higher education experts predicted more than a decade ago when the first global university ranking was launched by Shanghai Jiaotong University in 2003. In the past 12 years, not only have pioneers like ARWU (Shanghai Jiaotong ranking), THE and QS stayed in the scene of (global) higher education, we have also seen many more rankings, global and national, enter the ranking arena. As of 2014, ten global rankings were identified, with US News & World Report’s Best Global Universities being the latest addition.

The proliferation of global and national university rankings implies that higher education institutions (HEIs) can no longer turn a blind eye to rankings. In one way or another, HEIs have to either make use of rankings or minimise the damage caused by others using rankings to outshine them at home or abroad.  

On October 15, ACA’s 47th European Policy Seminar will present a panoramic (re)view of rankings. We will look at rankings used as information tools, rankings used as marketing tools, the mutation and multiplication of rankings in the past few years, and the latest methodological changes in the production of global university rankings. 

Knowing that many HEIs by now must have had their own experience in responding to global rankings, either proactively or reactively, a specific timeslot is reserved for the participants in this seminar to share their experiences from the HEIs’ point of view. Together with the Q&A time following each presentation, this intensive one-day seminar is promised to be an interactive platform for HEI practitioners, ranking providers, independent researchers, and higher education consultants to exchange the latest information and diverse views on all matters related to (global) rankings. 

Since 2003, ACA’s European Policy Seminar series has gradually established itself as one of the highly-valued open fora for stakeholders in higher education to exchange their knowledge and insights on hot topics in the field. Each of the seminars welcomes around 100 participants coming from all around Europe. We look forward to welcoming you as one of the next 100 to the rankings seminar!    


Wednesday 14 October 2015

18:00    Free guided tour (The Secrets of Brussels)

19:00    Seminar dinner

Thursday 15 October 2015



Registrations and coffee

Opening keynote


The changing world of rankings
Bernd Wächter, Director, ACA (Brussels, Belgium)


Research-only rankings of HEIs: Is it possible to measure scientific performance?
Ludo Waltman, Researcher, CWTS – Centre for Science and Technology Studies, Leiden University (Leiden, The Netherlands)


What do rankings inform users of the quality of teaching? A comparison of national rankings and global rankings
Gero Federkeil, CHE – Centrum für Hochschulentwicklung, Coordinator of the U-Multirank project (Gütersloh, Germany)


Coffee break


Group session: What´s your rankings story? 




How are global rankings used in marketing HEIs and study programmes?
Nelson Furtado, Analyst, Illuminate Consulting Group (San Carlos, USA)


How are national and global rankings used for marketing a national HE system?
Bianka Siwinska, Executive Director, Perspektywy Education Foundation (Warsaw, Poland)


Coffee break


From ranking to profiling: more data collection for what?
Duncan Ross, Director of Data and Analytics, Times Higher Education (London, UK)


The proliferation of regional and national rankings and its implications on national HE systems: Russia’s Project 5-100 as an example
Shivleta Tagirova, Director of International Relations, National Research University, Higher School of Economics (Moscow, Russia)


Closing keynote
Barbara Kehm, Professor of Leadership and International Strategic Development in Higher Education, Robert Owen Centre, University of Glasgow (Glasgow, Scotland)





Bernd Wächter

Bernd Wächter is the Director of the Academic Cooperation Association (ACA). He studied at the universities of Hull (UK), Giessen and Marburg (Germany). His career has been focused on international higher education. He worked for the University of Kassel, the British Council, and the Fachhochschule Darmstadt, before joining The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) as the head of their EU division. He subsequently became the director for Higher Education (Erasmus) in the Brussels Socrates Office. In 1998, he took up his present post as ACA Director.

Bernd Wächter has published and lectured widely on international higher education. He is the editor of the ACA Papers on International Cooperation in Education. He has been the team leader of ACA’s research projects and speaks frequently at major governmental and stakeholder conferences, in Europe and beyond, on the issue of mobility and internationalisation.  

Bernd Wächter has two children. He is married to Thora Magnusdottir, a delightful lady from Iceland.

Ludo Waltman

Ludo Waltman is a researcher at the Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS) of Leiden University. At CWTS, Ludo coordinates the advanced bibliometric methods (ABM) working group. Ludo’s research interests focus on methodological topics in the fields of bibliometrics and scientometrics, in particular the analysis and visualization of bibliometric networks and the development of bibliometric indicators. Together with his colleague Nees Jan van Eck, Ludo has developed two software tools for the analysis and visualization of bibliometric networks:VOSviewer and CitNetExplorer. Ludo also serves as Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Informetrics, the leading methodological journal in the field. In addition to his research activities, Ludo is involved in numerous contract research projects. He is the leading expert on rankings and the techniques of citation analysis in general in CWTS.

Gero Federkeil

Gero Federkeil is Manager in Charge of Rankings at CHE-Centre for Educational Development, Germany. His main activities cover: ranking, performance indicators, evaluation and quality assurance. Within the rankings domain, his focus has been on indicators related to the relevance of study programmes and indicators relating to the labour market. He is the coordination of the international expansion of the CHERanking. In 2010 he was elected as Vice-President of IREG Observatory on Academic Rankings and Excellence. 

Between 1993 and 2000 Gero was Assistant at the German Science and Humanities Council. His foci were on higher education planning, medical programmes at universities, evaluation of higher education institutions and non-university research institutes, development of the tertiary education sector (e.g. Fachhochschulen and technical colleges), and relations between the higher education system and the labour market.

Gero has a background in sociology. He graduated with a degree in Sociology from the University of Bielefeld and worked between 1989 and 1992 as research assistant at the Population Research and Social Policy Department of the University of Bielefeld.

Nelson Furtado

Nelson Furtado serves as a lead analyst with ICG with a specific focus on performance and trend analysis in international education.  He has worked on a number of rankings strategy projects for universities in Europe, North America, and Australia. Prior to joining ICG, Nelson worked for the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, where he supported the work of the Advisory Panel on Canada’s International Education Strategy.  He also worked for the Ontario Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities as a policy assistant on issues including academic credit transfer and access to higher education.

Nelson holds a B.A. with Honours in Communication Studies from Carleton University, with Minors in Law and Statistics. During his studies, He was awarded scholarships from Carleton University and the Government of Ontario. He contributed to the final report published by the Advisory Panel on Canada’s International Education Strategy, entitled International Education: A Key Driver of Canada’s Future Prosperity.

Nelson is fluent in English, proficient in French, and with capabilities in Portuguese.

Bianka Siwinska

Bianka Siwinska is Executive Director of Perspektywy Education Foundation, Editor-in-Chief of “Perspektywy” magazine, author and coordinator of national campaigns “Girls as Engineers!” and “Girls to STEM!” in Poland.  She also heads the “Study in Poland” programme.

Bianka publishes regularly on topics relating to the internationalisation of higher education. She is the author of “University over borders”, “Education goes global. Strategies of Internationalization of Higher Education” (2007), and reports such as “Women at technical universities” (2013, 2014, 2015), “International students in Poland” (2013, 2014), and “Polish market of international education” (2014). She is also a blogger of “” and a foreign correspondent “University World News”.

Bianka has a background in political science. She obtained her PhD in political science from the University of Warsaw (October 2013). She also studied or did research in: NIFU-STEP Institute, Oslo, Norway (2009), Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt University (as a scholar of Friedrich Ebert Foundation), and attended a summer course at Columbia University, New York (2008).

Perspektywy publishes a national ranking of Polish universities annually. 

Duncan Ross

Duncan has been a data miner since the mid 1990s. He is currently Director of Data and Analytics for Times Higher Education, where his team generates University rankings and related data products.

Prior to this he led Teradata’s Data Science team in Europe and Asia, where he was responsible for developing analytical solutions across a number of industries, including warranty and root cause analysis in manufacturing, and social network analysis in telecommunications.

In his spare time Duncan has been a city councillor, chair of a national charity, founder of an award-winning farmers’ market, and one of the founding directors of the Institute of Data Miners. He is one of the co-founders of DataKind UK, and regularly speaks on data science and social good.

Shivleta Tagirova

Shivleta Tagirova is the Director of International Relations at the National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE-University), Moscow Russia. Prior to her arrival at the Higher School of Economics, Shivleta headed the Department Europe at the Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia.

Tagirova received her degrees in Public Administration and Translation (French) from the same university. In 2009, she defended her dissertation entitled ‘Policy of Strategic Management in Higher Education: a Comparative Analysis of Western and Russian Experience (through the example of France, the United Kingdom and the Russian Federation).

Shivleta has worked as Coordinator of the Global Education Programme of the North-South Centre of the Council of Europe and the first joint Russian Master’s programme in human rights carried out with support of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. She also briefly led the Division for International Organizations and Programs of Russia’s Ministry of Education and Science. She has published on the topic of the market for educational services and management of innovation processes in higher education.

Barbara Kehm

Barbara is Professor of Leadership and International Strategic Development in Higher Education at the Robert Owen Centre for Educational Change (Glasgow University, UK). Before joining Glasgow, Barbara was Professor at Kassel University and was Managing Director of its International Centre for Higher Education Research (INCHER) from 2004 until 2011. She also created and coordinated an international research oriented Master Programme “Higher Education Research and Development” which was running from 2004 until 2010 at INCHER.

Barbara’s research interests are internationalisation in higher education, new forms of governance in higher education, and changes in doctoral education. In recent times she has also produced several book chapters and journal articles on global university rankings.

She was a member of the EAIR Executive Board, a chairperson of the German Society for Higher Education Research, and the Secretary of the Consortium of Higher Education Researchers (CHER), a European based but global association of researchers in the field of higher education. In addition she is a member of the editorial board of four international higher education journals. She has carried out several large-scale projects for international organisations such as UNESCO, the OECD, the European Commission, and the Council of Europe. Her publications include more than 25 monographs and about 200 journal articles and book chapters. She has given more than 250 keynote speeches and invited presentations in 45 countries around the world.


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