Covered areas

The project presupposes the analysis of the four prestigious academic rankings (”Big-4” Group) from the point of view of the needs and possibilities of the Polish Universities. These are: Shanghai Ranking – Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU); Times Higher Education World University Rankings (THE); QS World University Rankings (QS) and US News Best Global Universities Rankings (US News).

The above rankings – prepared on a regular basis by prestigious ranking organizations from China, Great Britain and the USA – have transparent methodologies and publish at least 1000 universities in their lists. That makes them a perfect tool for the monitoring of the effectiveness of the Polish universities’ activities, at least those 17 of them that could be found in Top-1000 ranking lists in 2018. Additionally, other ranking systems’ indicators may be taken into account, including CWTS Leiden Ranking and U-Multirank.

As part of the “University Ranking Audit”, there will be specially indicated and analysed the areas of HEI’s activities, reflected in the criteria and indicators of major international rankings (“Big-4” Group and others) or having direct and implicit impact on these indicators. They are:


It covers both the structure and procedures in the context of rankings at a university (including dedicated university units, data collecting and checking, spreading the ranking results within the HEI and in its environment, raising the knowledge on rankings among the staff and students) as well as the organization of the cooperation process with ranking institutions in Poland and globally. First of all, the contacts with the key global rankings’ authors, the data and information about the university reported to them will be analysed.


Reputation of a HEI is reflected in the rankings directly, through surveys carried out among its academic staff and employers (THE, QS, USNews), it can also be measured with the help of such related indicators as international cooperation. While analysing this area, special attention will be given to identifying systematic promotional activities, undertaken by the university in the international dimension, both within the country (e.g. by organizing prestigious international conferences) and abroad (promotional campaigns, international alumni clubs, presence of the HEI’s key-note speakers at important events abroad). Particularly, the focus will be directed to the participation of the university staff and its partners in international university reputation surveys, and the HEI’s skills to use social media for promotion.


Academic achievements of the HEI, mainly publications and their citation, are present in the methodologies of all the analysed domestic and international rankings. The Audit in this area will be based on the fundamental scientific data from Elsevier and Clarivate Analytics databases. The analysis will be concentrated on the correctness of the publication affiliation, existing regulations and procedures in this regard. The indicators reflecting the quality of the publication will be indicated and analysed, including those prepared in international teams. In particular, the analysis will be spread on how well the university identifies its priority research area, having the future impact upon the university rankings (institutional), as well as rankings by subject.


The quality of education is examined in rankings with the help of indirect metrics (by proxy). As a rule, this area is diagnosed using basic numbers and characteristics related to the academic staff and students as well as the accreditations obtained. Simultaneously, other forms and measures of quality confirmation are being intensively searched, for instance, by introducing new forms of education (Problem Based Learning and other). They will also be identified during the Audit. Another measurer reflecting the education quality is successful performance of the HEI’s students at international contests, olympiads and other competitions – this will also be analysed during the Audit.


In the field of internationalization, the analysis will cover both the internationalization of didactics (foreign students, incoming and outgoing exchange, study programs in the foreign languages, internships abroad) and the internationalization of science (lecturers from abroad, joint scientific publications, common research programs). The following aspects will also be taken into account: the current state of the internationalization processes at the HEI, increase dynamics (since 2015) and plans for the future, support for the conduct of scientific research within international cooperation and the efficiency indicators adopted in this regard (Key Performance Indicators).


Due to the increasing inclusion of the of indicators related to the so-called “Third University Mission” in the ranking methodologies, which means analysing its innovation, transfer of knowledge and the social role, the Audit will also refer to the set of indicators in the field of patents, obtaining financing from external sources, cooperation with industry, activities supporting the local community, etc.


Keeping in mind, that ranking methodologies will be evolving in the following years – to keep up with the changes of their roles and structures as well as horizontal and vertical university mission diversification – it is important to collect the knowledge on how the analytical facilities of the HEI are organized and on how well the university is prepared to build and adapt its development strategies, as well as monitor its implementation.