The Times Higher Education Rankings are considered to be one of the best university rankings in the world. So we might take it seriously when they announce that Dutch universities are doing particularly well.
According to the Times Higher Education (THE) Europe University Rankings 2017 the UK is less of a pacesetter than generally thought, and the Netherlands a real knockout.
What stands out is the exceptional performance of the Netherlands’ 13 main research-intensive universities – every single one of which makes the top 100 of the Europe ranking. On research reputation, citation impact and research productivity (papers to academic staff), the Netherlands has a clear advantage over the European pack compared with Germany and the UK.
The key to succes
According to Karl Dittrich, president of the Association of Universities in the Netherlands, the key to this succes it’s the strong awareness among the country’s institutions of their “public function”, which “has allowed them to view each other not primarily as competitors, but as partners”. Dittrich and others draw attention to its quality system as well, which in terms of research is in the hands of universities through what is known as the “standard evaluation protocol”. This governs how assessments of research at Dutch universities and other institutes – which take place every six years – should operate.
Autononomy is important
Anka Mulder, vice-president for education and operations at the Delft University of Technology, says that academic quality 'encompasses a much broader set of criteria' than metrics such as research productivity, reputation and income. ‘Ensuring that universities work for students also plays a role in the country’s research success,' she explains. 'The contents of the study programmes, the quality of the student experience, the opinions of independent review panels and accreditation organisations and the employability of our students are all indicators of academic quality.' She also draws attention to another vital ingredient: autonomy. 'It's important to note that the Dutch universities are relatively autonomous, which makes it possible to take the right decisions.'
Read the full report on the European ranking here.
Text: Manon Sikkel Daelmans