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U-Multirank reveals ‘hidden gems’ in the world’s universities

European universities are once again able to compare and contrast their activities with rivals around the world and demonstrate that research is far from being the only way of measuring what makes a ‘good’ university.

So says U-Multirank, the comparative global university ranking initiative funded up to now by the European Union’s Erasmus+ programme.

The fourth edition of U-Multirank (UMR) – which claims to have broken the mould of international higher education league tables – was published at the end of March and could be the last to be fully funded by Erasmus+ as the European Commission’s initial promise of ‘seed-funding’ for four years has now been fulfilled, writes NIC MITCHELL.

The European Commission is considering reducing financial support to half the annual costs, up to a limit of €600,000-a-year, and has called for proposals to take the initiative forward

Joint U-Multirank project leader Frank Ziegele

Joint U-Multirank project leader Frank Ziegele

Joint project leader Frank Ziegele from the German Centre for Higher Education (CHE) which has developed U-Multirank with the Centre of Higher Education Policy Studies (CHEPS) at the University of Twente and the Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS) at Leiden University since its launch in 2014 said he hoped his consortium’s bid to continue running UMR would be successful.

Although not a traditional ranking with overall winners, multi-dimensional web-based U-Multirank identifies universities with the particular strengths that users may be looking for. This could be a good performance for incoming and outgoing student exchanges and international joint degree programmes to appeal to students wanting to study abroad or a strong track record for co-publications with industry for researchers wanting to work closely with business.

To highlight the top performers in nine of the indicators used to create U-Multirank, the top 25 institutions in categories ranging from international orientation to regional engagement as well as research and knowledge transfer has just been published.

US universities dominate the rankings for research publications and citations, but European institutions of higher education perform strongly in many of the ranking areas.

French business and engineering schools took nine of the top 25 spots for student mobility – defined as a composite of international incoming and outgoing exchange students and students on international joint degree programmes.


Top performer for student mobility, IÉSEG School of Management

Among the most successful were IÉSEG School of Management, Toulouse Business School and École Centrale de Nantes, although the top spot for mobility went to Varna University of Management in Bulgaria.

German schools of management also performed strongly for the internationalisation of their programmes, with WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management and Munich Business School performing strongly. So did some of the country’s universities of applied science and German institutions took seven of the top 25 U-Multirank student mobility places.

Looking at some of the performance measurements, which U-Multirank says are exclusive to their rankings, including co-publications with industrial partners, the strength of European technical universities and universities of applied sciences comes shinning through.

A total of 16 of the 25 top performers in this aspect of industry collaboration are European, led by LUISS Guido Carli in Italy and Reutlingen University of Applied Science and the Institute of Technology Nuremberg, both in Germany.

Professor Ziegele said: “The Top 25 lists show that there are many different ways in which universities can demonstrate world-class excellence. Research is certainly an important one, but diversity of purpose is critical to the strength of higher education systems as a whole and U-Multirank identifies ‘hidden gems’ among the world’s universities.”

New this year is a UMR ranking for Applied Knowledge Partnerships, which showed Spain’s University of Deusto and Audencia Business School in France as the top performers for transferring academic knowledge and research into practical and commercial benefits.

A second ‘readymade’ ranking for Research and Research Linkages had a more predictable range of top performers, led by Rockefeller University and MIT in the US, but a number of small and specialised institutions scored ‘A’ grades for ‘citation rate’ and ‘top cited publications’, including the Hanken School of Economics in Finland and the Institute of Cancer Research and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, both in the UK.

U-Multirank claims to be the world’s largest university comparison site. Since its launch in 2014 it has almost doubled the number of institutions and increased the coverage of countries from 70 to 99, with 3,284 faculties and 10,526 study programmes examined for the 2017 edition.



Applied Knowledge Partnership ranking


Research and Research Linkages ranking

Top 25 lists