University rankings are designed to ensure quality and prospective students Orientation offer. But unfortunately that is not always the case. What should prospective students pay attention to when dealing with university rankings?

university ranking

The great confusion

If Boy High school graduates go in search of their dream degree and comb through various rankings fast confusion up. Which ranking is relevant and above all credible?

Universities are an American phenomenon. There the rank lists have a long tradition. In the 90 years the ranking wave then spilled over the large pond to Germany.

Each publisher has its own ranking

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Unusual until now in this country, numerous publishers soon brought out their own university rankings, including Der Spiegel, the Focus or the Handelsblatt. Meanwhile, a ranking clear enforced:

The CHE ranking, which was created in cooperation between Zeit Verlag and the Center for Higher Education Development (CHE), is ahead in terms of awareness and reputation. But the Methods of the CHE ranking and its American role models are not without controversy.

Which rankings help in choosing a course?

Especially international rankings place emphasis on publications, mentions of the publications in other publications and scientific awards, which a university can show.

In the famous QS World University Ranking, formerly known as the Times Ranking, 20% of the number of citations is included in the evaluation. In the equally well-known Shanghai Ranking, the research performance of the lecturers and graduates is decisive, for example how many Nobel Prizes the researchers have received.

A question of relevance

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But are these criteria really important for prospective students? For prospective students, a good one is usually much more likely Organization the university or supervision by the Professoron.

Moreover, in the international rankings, so few German universities are represented that they hardly help in the selection of theCourses.

The Excellence Initiative of the Confederation and the Länder

In Germany, the evaluation of the universities could help with the excellence initiative of the federal government and the Länder in the choice of study.

This funding program distinguishes 11 universities as so-called elite universities, including, for example, the universities of Bremen, Cologne, Tübingen and Heidelberg.

Elite university no decision criterion

With its funding program, the German Excellence Initiative primarily evaluates the research of the universities. The title “EliteUni” is therefore hardly a helpful decision-making criterion for students.

The German CHE ranking takes a different approach. It interrogates Professoren and students in various categories, for example, the study situation, international orientation or practical orientation.

The care is important

In addition, facts such as the caring ratio and the number of students who are studying in regular study time play a role.

These criteria are significantly closer to the actual interests of the students. But also the CHE ranking is always in the Criticism. The methodology, in particular, annoys some university rectors. However, the ranking has special features in Germany Significance: I would like to take a closer look at it and possible Alternatives show.

Thorn in the eyes of university rectors

Everything could be so simple: The German CHE ranking already questions Professoren and students in various categories, it collects data on care, overall on the study situation or - increasingly important - on practical orientation.

But the CHE ranking is a thorn in the side of not a few university rectors Eye. Why actually?

The CHE ranking in the criticism

The CHE-Ranking works with a traffic light system. In the various categories, the universities are divided into the final group (blue), midfield (yellow) and top group (green).

The grade actually achieved by the university is irrelevant, only the comparison to other universities counts. Many criticize this representation critic as overly simplistic and confusing.

Questionable methods

The methods with which the CHE raises the data for the ranking are also criticized. For example, for reasons of data protection, the universities carry out surveys of the students themselves, sometimes even the Professorafter your own lectures.

That's why the suspicion of manipulation in the room quickly came as a surprise. Furthermore, it is not known how many students actually participate in the surveys.

Surveys are not representative

The surveys are therefore not representative. A further criticism of the critics is that the CHE does not disclose the data base. The surveys are therefore not verifiable.

At first the critics protested. Then, entire disciplines were closed against the surveys, above all the historians.

Some have dropped out altogether

In the meantime, some Unis have been completely exhausted from the ranking, for example the University of Cologne - which previously ranked as the final group in the CHE ranking.

Whether hurt pride led to the exit or not – the fewer universities that take part, the less meaningful the ranking is. Students who are in front of decision stand for or against a certain university should not only rely on the CHE ranking.

Are there alternatives?

Many students only apply in the course of their studies or at the career entry determine whether the course is really the right one. So if you are about to choose a course, it is best to ask the students and lecturers on site.

who not that Money or has the time to visit every possible university or does not dare to do "field research" on site, you can also find in the Internet valuable opinions.

Real experiences on the internet

In forums and blogs, many students exchange ideas and opinions, assess their studies, write reviews and experience reports, and award grades to categories such as organization.

Through such experiences, those interested in the program get a more authentic insight into the study situation on the ground. However, the internet also risks manipulation.

Combine different orientation aids

So who is interested in a course decide needs can fall back on various orientation aids. University rankings give a first impression, especially when it comes to the reputation of the university in research.

However, those interested in university studies should critically question university qualifications, as the categories are not always relevant and meaningful.

Combined with the experiences of real students, the academics are well prepared to finally make the right decision in the course of their studies.

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