University Politehnica of Timisoara and the Romanian Technical Universities Alliance
dispute the methodological hierarchization of Romanian universities
The publication of “The report of the National Exercise of Universitary Metaranking 2016” done by the High Level Experts Group called through the Ministerial Order no. 5665 from 27.10.2016, has drawn a special interest and diverse opinions.
Having as it’s declared objective the knowledge of the Romanian universities position in international rankings, but actually, following the proposition of additional and varing financing using an own methodology which has to integrate these rankings into a metaranking, the report starts from a set of principles which do not assure a proper evaluation of the education’s quality and universitary research.
A series of aspects like the transfer of knowledge and cooperation with the industry, the employment of students etc are on a small scale reflected by the rankings included in the metaranking, or presented, at least on a conversation level in many cases through some low-level criteria, without any relevancy. Therefore, it’s surprising the complete rejection of the U-Multirank classification, a global promoted ranking by the European Union, in which an important number of Romanian universities are involved.
The principle of producing such a ranking, based on the 9 international rankings which were present in the report it’s wrong from the beginning, because the majority of these rankings only follow the first 700 or 800 universities in the world. By this, the top 10 Romanian universities are ranked on the 700-1100 positions, some of these are not followed by this classification. This explains the fact that two of these universities (UBB and UB) can be found in more rankings than those 8, which has no connection with the real peformances of these entities. Anybody who is slightly familiarized with these international rankings knows that a difference of 100-200 positions is absolutely irrelevant, this is influenced by the size of these universities, by the profile (generalistic or specialized university, like the medicine university and technical universities), by a certain condition of financing the research through grants etc.
Also, it can be noted the absence of the Google Scholar International classification. This rankings has done, based on the recently introduced profiles in the search engine, o ranking of universities (number of citations, top 10 places public profiles). In the data base exist approximatively 5000 universities.
The principle of equal consideration of the 9 rankings is also arguable. For example, the big share that it has in the QS-Top Universities (QS) and Times Higher Education World Universities (THE) classifications, the “reputation” of these institutes (50% and 33%), evaluation built on an international study of whose accuracy regarding Romania we cannot be sure of.
In general, plenty authors criticize the ranking systems from a content point of view (unidimenstionality, the neglenct structure of input-output of the university), and also from a methodological point of view (statistical accuracy, elitism, university dimensions dependence etc). It can be also said, that these ranking, are in some extent, the reflection of the economical status of these countries and this is the reason that the allocated resources is based on a wrong decision, the development’s priorities are not automatically resolved by the resource allocation to the bigger universities positioned in the international rankings (C. Daraio et al., European Journal of Operational Research, 244, 918-930, 2015).
It can be said, without hesitation, that between the first 10 to 12 univeristies from Romania there are no significant differences of value and performance, some occupying better positions in varied international rankings, depending on the methodology used for the hierarchization and the limits and deficiencies of this classification.
We consider that this endeavour regarding “the analysis of the Romanian universities position in international rankings in 2016, by integrating them in a Universitary Metaranking”, is, sadly, subjective, incomplete and deficient.
The impression is that this exercise brought on the conclusions then the arguments, which could have been discussed and in some cases are truthless, which should have shed a light of credibility on this exercise.
In conclusion, “The report of the National Exercise of Metaranking 2016” done by the High Level Experts Group, cannot constitute the establishment of possible propositions of additional financing of some universities, a radical review of this exercise’s methodology is needed.
Prof.Phd.Eng. Viorel-Aurel Serban
University Politehnica of Timisoara rector
Romanian Technical Universities Alliance president