Monday, June 19, 2017

Webometrics Ranking of Ten Thousand Universities

The "Webometrics Ranking of World Universities" by Spanish researchers has advantages over the better known ranking systems and produces a few surprises. Webometrics ranks more than ten thousand universities around the world, which is many more than other measures provide. For Australia 199 institutions are listed, whereas other rankings mostly cover the 43 accredited as universities, not colleges which also issue Higher Education qualifications.

Webometrics uses four measures: Presence, Impact, Openness and Excellence. While the weighted score of these measures gives a similar result to other measures, there are some surprises. For example, many ranking system give a similar result to the the Times Higher Education University Rankings with the "Group of Eight" first:
  1. University of Melbourne
  2. Australian National University
  3. University of Queensland
  4. University of Sydney
  5. Monash University
  6. University of New South Wales
  7. University of Western Australia
  8. University of Adelaide
Webometrics lists the same top Australian universities , but in a different order:
  1. University of Melbourne
  2. University of Queensland
  3. University of New South Wales
  4. Australian National University
  5. University of Sydney
  6. University of Western Australia
  7. University of Adelaide
  8. Monash University
The ANU slips two places due to low Presence and Excellence scores. Monash drops three places to eight position, due to a very low Presence score.

The Presence measure is unusual in university ranking systems, in that it measures the quality of the university's website. Ranked by presence, the top eight Australian universities are:
  1. University of Queensland
  2. University of Melbourne
  3. University of New South Wales
  4. Australian National University
  5. RMIT University
  6. Edith Cowan University
  7. University of Western Australia
  8. Macquarie University
Sydney, Adelaide and Monash are replaced by RMIT, Edith Cowan and Macquarie. This effect of the Presence is more pronounced with world rankings, where the usual US and UK prestige institutions rank first in Webometrics, but for presence the University of São Paulo and  Fundação Getúlio Vargas (Brazil), at 6 and 7 in the world, outrank Clatech and the University of Oxford. 

Another interesting result is that universities with "open" in their names do not rate highly on the Webometrics openness scale (the Open University UK ranks highest at 403). Similarly those with "virtual" in their name do not rate highly for web presence (Tamil Virtual Academy, is highest at 1172).

The institutions I have studied at most recently rank as follows on Webometrics:

1242Athabasca University1256116913621879

This is much as I would expect, with ANU being a leading research university, USQ and Athabasca teaching universities and CIT a vocational college. However both USQ and Athabasca score poorly compared to ANU on presence and openness, despite their emphasis on e-learning and access to education. USQ claims a "commitment to open education" and Athabasca describes itself as "Canada's Open University", but neither rates in the top one thousand.

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