Event Reports

Rankings and Benchmarking in Higher Education: Understanding and exploring new perspectives

The BTC's fourth international conference, organized in cooperation with the Konrad-Adenaeur-Stiftung, Israel office, took place on Monday June 15 in Jerusalem. The conference dealt with the issue of rankings and benchmarking in higher education. This issue is drawing extensive interest around the world and in Israel in particular, as higher education is increasingly characterized by competition between institutions and national systems.

The conference began with greetings and introductory remarks by Dr. Michael Borchard, Director of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, Israel office and Mr. Moshe Amir, Director of the Bologna Training Center. Following the greetings, Prof. Zvi Hacohen, Rector of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, discussed the implications of the 'rankings game' and challenges deriving from it from BGU's institutional perspective. Prof. Jan Sadlak, President of IREG Observatory on Academic Ranking and Excellence, followed with a comprehensive overview of the ranking mechanisms describing the motivations behind them, the methodological approaches used and an overview of their strengths and weaknesses. A focus on one particular ranking mechanism- the Times Higher Education Ranking- was then provided by Mr. Phil Baty, editor at the Times Higher Education Magazine.

Mr. Christian Hemmestad Bjerke, Stimula Research Laboratory, discussed diverging perspectives of the ranking scene by emphasizing the EU multi-rank system. Before explaining divergent methodologies, the presentation related to the shortcomings of current ranking schemes for institutions. Finally, Mr. Dima Kudrova, presented the National Union of Israeli Students' perspective on rankings in higher education. The significant role of students in determining higher education policies was emphasized. The central focus of this presentation was the claim that social responsibility should be incorporated into the ranking and benchmarking schemes in higher education.

The conference included participants from a wide range of Israeli higher education institutions including faculty and management as well as government representatives. Representations of both the National Union of Israeli Students and the European Students' Union were also present and contributed to the vibrant discussion which followed the presentations.