Teaching excellence gets ranked – finally

Posted on Sep 5, 2018

More success for World 100 members in a new ranking from Times Higher Education, this time seeking to measure teaching quality – a long overdue innovation, given the lack of education-focused metrics in the traditional global rankings.

The THE Europe Teaching Ranking measures universities on 13 performance metrics covering different elements of the teaching mix; but due to challenges to accessing comparative data in different countries, it is confined to only 8 countries:  UK, Spain, Germany, Italy, France, the Netherlands, Portugal and the Republic of Ireland.

50% of an institutions’ score comes from the results of a survey of students, covering their engagement with their studies, interaction with teachers, opportunities to develop skills and views on the quality of services at their institution.

Other metrics cover resources, outcomes and teaching environment, and THE have been open about the challenges of accessing comparable data, describing this as a ‘pilot’ ranking, and seeking input from universities to make improvements.

UK universities perform best in the Europe Teaching Rankings, claiming 100 of the 242 places with Oxford and Cambridge predictably topping the table, and 8 of the top 10. THE reflect that this is in part a recognition of the availability of relevant data (itself a reflection of political focus on student experience and outcomes).

World 100 members perform well in the ranking, with 5 institutions in the top 10 and 12 in top 25. A notable performer is the University of Navarra, which ranks 8, reflecting very strong scores for student engagement.

Joining Navarra in the top 10 are UK World 100 members Warwick, Manchester, Newcastle and York.

The new rankings are an interesting move, given the clear dichotomy between the use of the existing global rankings by international students to support choice of institution (as evidenced by W100 research) and the lack of effective measures of teaching quality.

Indeed, our Rankings Influencers project last year found that academics who fill in reputation surveys which feed the rankings felt that they were unable to determine the quality of teaching in an institution unless they had direct experience.

It remains to be seen whether more global measures of teaching excellence can be developed, but credit should go to THE for taking the debate forward.

 

Mark Sudbury
Head of Global Network Development