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France tops U-Multirank for internationalisation

France had the highest number of top-performing institutions in a new ranking produced by U-Multirank based on international orientation.

Supported by the European Commission, U-Multirank is the new higher education rankings system that claims to reflect both the diversity of higher education institutions, or HEIs, and the variety of university excellence in an international context.

The latest rankings use a range of ‘international orientation’ indicators. These include student mobility and international academics to international joint publications and international doctorate degrees.

While U-Multirank argues against simplistic league tables, the latest results in what they describe as ‘readymade rankings’ produce a list of 27 universities achieving all-round top scores, or four A-grades.

Surprises at the top

The top scorers include some surprises, with many of the big university brand names missing!

The leading 27 institutions are located in 12 different countries, all of them EU/EEA nation states.

Among the top rankers for international orientation are two universities which hosted recent EUPRIO conferences: Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden (2012) and the University of Innsbruck, Austria (2014).

From a national perspective, France tops the list with 6 institutions followed by Austria, with 4.

Belgium and the Netherlands both have 3; Switzerland, Sweden and Ireland have 2, while Denmark, Hungary, Norway, Slovenia and the UK each have 1.

Weak data from UK and US

Only two of the 12 countries are English-speaking, but U-Multirank says not too much should be read into this as U-Multirank representation varies by country and is not particularly strong in the UK and USA in terms of institutions that supply data to them.

There are currently over 500 HEIs participating in U-Multitrank; but the latest rankings only compared the performance of 237 PhD-awarding institutions with a student body comprising more than 7.5% international students to make their rankings compare ‘like with like’.

Frans van Vught, one of the U-Multirank project leaders, said: “Achieving four ‘A’ scores for international orientation is a significant achievement. Not many institutions are ever likely to accomplish it.

“And it is not necessarily the institutions you would expect that perform best: these rankings identify high-performing universities not captured by other rankings with their heavy research focus.”

His fellow U-Multirank project leader, Frank Ziegele, said: “Strong performance on internationalisation is not only found in comprehensive universities, but also in institutions with a thematic focus such as Wageningen Agricultural University in the Netherlands, business schools like HEC Paris, or technically oriented institutions such as EPF Lausanne and Chalmers University in Sweden.”

Photo: University of Innsbruck, Austria – venue of EUPRIO’s 2014 conference * For more about the Readymade Rankings, see here * The complete U-Multirank listing for international orientation is here * Also see ‘A tale of two international university rankings‘, a blog by Nic Mitchell (@EuprioNic) on his website.