At the end of April, the International Ranking Expert Group (IREG), the only independent international ranking organisation, held its annual conference in Tashkent. Such IREG events are of particular importance because they bring together global ranking compilers, ranking experts and representatives of many universities and government agencies. This year’s conference was also special in that it took place in a region relatively distant from the centre of higher education – and demonstrated the openness and connectivity of Central Asian universities through excellent organisation and very warm hospitality.
In terms of content, a significant development was that almost all the presentations marked a change in the world of global rankings. As they put it, nothing will ever be the same in the wake of geopolitical and academic changes. The directions of breakthroughs are now taking shape, but several points are already apparent: the declining importance of overall rankings compared to subject and regional rankings; the methodological problems of using publication databases need to be addressed; China’s political interest in the comparison with the Western academic world is declining.
In his presentation on the issue of data and in the subsequent discussion, our faculty member György Fábri, head of the Social Communication Research Group at ELTE PPK, discussed the contradictions of the domination of numbers, the totalisation of quantification, which also attracted a lot of attention. He also referred to the competition between AI-based information services and rankings.