The U-Multirank project has slowly crept past the feasibility study stage. While any attempt to undermine the triopoly of the big three global rankers, ARWU (Shanghai), QS, Times Higher Education, is welcome, it does seem to be taking a long time. One wonders whether it will get going before the Eurozone disintegrates. Still the project does have its defenders.
"Jordi Curell, director of lifelong learning, higher education and international affairs at the directorate general for education and culture, conceded that there was opposition to its development.
"When we started working on the project of U-Multirank, many people from the higher education community were opposed to it,” he told an international symposium on university rankings and quality assurance in Brussels on 12 April.
But the system had intrinsic value, he said, because it would provide an evidence-based measure of the performance of European universities that would help them improve.
According to Curell, if higher education is to help Europe emerge from its current financial and economic crisis, the EU needs to know how its universities are performing and universities need to know how they are doing.
"Rankings which are carefully thought out are the only transparency tools which can give a comparative picture of higher education institutions at a national, European and global level," he told the symposium."
There are critics of course. One of them is a committee of the British House of Lords which has argued that U-Multirank is a waste of money. Four million Euros sounds rather a lot but considering what the EU has spent money on, it is trivial.
And as for wasting the taxpayer's money, well, the committee could look at the other house and think about a floating duck island, pantyliners, nappies, soundproofed bedrooms and so on and so on.