Victor Sadovnichy: “University rankings are important and necessary”
Victor Sadovnichiy, rector of Lomonosov Moscow State University Rankings should not be an instrument of pressure on a university and its members, because each ranking assesses only a particular dimension, particular parameters. Of course, one can say that if a certain measurement is correct (assuming it is correct), then universities can be ranked according to such parameters. But if the parameters are different, universities will be ranked differently. The QS ranking has chosen 6 invariables. Given the Soviet heritage of Russian universities, these invariables are sensitive points for them. Among these invariables is the number of foreign students, the number of foreign professors and expert community opinion. It is a very important aspect, which depends on how you identify this expert community, how integrated it is, what its core is – therefore it is a good idea to apply mathematics to the concept of an expert community. Of course, citations in English language journals are also a problematic issue for us. We try to work on it, but it is clear that we are not in equal our starting conditions here. Our universities are in fact very diverse and cannot be assessed in a simple way. There are national universities, including those in the Caucasus which are located in very good regions and have very important functions, their own “face”, they are unique and there is a high level of education there. In general, I believe that judging by the quality of education, our universities are unlikely to be placed far away from the first places. We really have a good quality of education. To conclude this theme, I think that all ratings are necessary and important, just as mothers are, but surely the mood starts to fluctuate from one extremity to the other. I assume that the system of university education should ignore this – we have our own special role. Once again, we teach young people and everything which is not related to the quality of education, the quality of research, should not affect us. It is important for the rating agencies to understand this as well, and they should have no attempts to have influence in this direction. I still think that there should be a lot more globally recognized rankings that are actually acknowledged by the global educational community. I believe that our education system is very well established and I continue to advocate for the development and support of rankings which have already proved themselves to be good: the rankings of the Expert magazine, Echo of Moscow, Interfax, which in fact have a very good approach to the assessment. These are different parameters and I would not confront rankings with each other. They simply assess different parameters.