The blessings and the curses of university rankings. The case of Slovak Academic Ranking and Rating Agency

Date: 
February 22, 2011 - 16:00 - 17:30
Building: 
Nador u. 9, Monument Building
Room: 
Gellner Room (103)
Event type: 
Event audience: 
Presenter(s): 
Juraj Barta, Co-founder and Chairman of Governing Board of Slovak Academic Ranking and Rating Agency

Discussant: Matyas Szabo, Director of Curriculum Resource Center, CEU

Moderator: Renata Kralikova, PhD candidate DPP CEU

The university rankings are among the most popular, as well as most controversial, topics in higher education – globally, as well as in particular countries and systems. In Slovakia, the Academic Ranking and Rating Agency (ARRA) provides the ranking of Slovak universities since 2005. Juraj Barta, the ARRA’s Chairman of Governing Board presented a short history of ARRA and the motivations of its founders for starting the rankings of universities. He will introduced the methodology behind the ranking, evaluation principles, criteria and data sources as well as activities and achievements of ARRA. During his presentation Mr. Barta also opened several questions: Is it possible to have an objective ranking? Is there a need for rankings? Do ranking agencies reduce the apparent information assymetry in the higher education system?

After the presentation Matyas Szabo raised several issues related to rankings such as whether if the ranking measures inputs it can say much about quality of outputs. He also asked how should surprise cases be treated. Finally one can also ask whether once a ranking is in place the universities will not try to increase their quality, but they will rather try to fulfill the criteria of the ranking. Then we can ask whether the ranking still measures the quality of university or it simply shows the compliance of university with its criteria.

The following discussion covered further issues such as that the ARRA ranking is mostly about research and it does not say much about the quality of teaching. Related problem is that the rankings usually do not reflect different types of quality.

Juraj Barta holds MA degree in physics and management from the Comenius University in Bratislava. In 2004 he co-founded the Academic Ranking and Rating Agency (ARRA), an independent NGO and became the Chairman of ARRA’s Governing Board. Since 2007 he works as chief economist and head of market research at Slovenska sporitelna, leading Slovak bank, member of Austrian-based Erste Group. In 2008 he fullfiled the criteria to become a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) charterholder.