CU appreciates that Slovak Government Office analysts show interest in international rankings of Slovak universities
Bratislava, 21 September 2023: Analysts of the Institute for Strategy and Analysis of the Slovak Government Office analysed the position of Slovak universities in international rankings. Comenius University Bratislava understands the effort of the analysts to develop support for the programme elements promoted by the Slovak Government Office. However, the assumption that our university "increasingly falls behind" is misleading and incorrect. On the contrary, despite an increasing number of universities being ranked, Comenius University succeeds in continuously improving its relative position in the rankings.
By: CU External Relation Office
Comenius University is the only Slovak university that appears in all relevant rankings of world universities every year. In their text, the analysts of the Office of the Slovak Government focus on three rankings - ARWU, QS and THE.
- In the ARWU ranking (the Shanghai ranking) CU was ranked in the 801st-900th place band in 2021, in the 701st-800th place band in 2022 and in the 901st-1000th place band in 2023. This means that last year CU’s absolute ranking improved from 2021, but this year it deteriorated slightly. Between 2017 and 2023, the number of evaluated universities in this ranking increased from 1,300 to 2,500. In 2018, Comenius University was among 46.73% - 53.33% of top-ranked universities, this year it is among 36.04% - 40.00% of the best. This representation indicates an upward trend.
- In the QS WUR ranking, CU ranks 771st-780th. Since 2016, it's position has been fluctuating around approximately the same placement in this ranking. It is currently at the same position as in 2019 or in 2020. In 2016, the QS world ranking evaluated 900 universities while currently it covers 1,500. In 2016, CU was in the top 70.9%, today it is in the top 45.8%. This figure also testifies to the continuous improvement of CU’s position among world universities.*
- It currently ranks 1001st-1200th in THE WUR ranking. Its position has been improving in all absolute scores of this ranking since 2016. In 2016, the ranking evaluated 800 universities while today it covers 1799. CU’s overal ranking improved from 75.13% - 81.63% in 2016 to 55.64% - 66.70%. Once again, these figures illustrate a trend of continuous improvement of Comenius University’s position among world universities.
For the sake of completeness, we present the ranking of Comenius University in a number of other world rankings, ordered from its best ranking to the lowest:
- The Three University Missions (MosIUR) – 286th place
- RankPro – 454th place
- Round University Ranking (RUR) – 589th place
- Best Global Universities (US News) – 639th place
- The Center for World University Rankings (CWUR) – 661st place
- University Ranking by Academic Performance (URAP) – 739th place
- National Taiwan University Rankings (NTU) - 851st - 900th place
Three important points need to be made regarding the rankings:
- Some rankings significantly reward universities for Nobel Prize or Fields Medal laureate staff. In rankings like ARWU, this indicator has a weight of as much as 30%. At present, however, it is unrealistic for a Slovak university to offer a staff position to a Nobel Prize winner.
- Academic reputation is sometimes an important part of the score and is established by the ranking services through their own surveys among researchers. In some rankings, this parameter has a weight of up to 50%. However, most Slovak universities only have a very small or non-existent budget for international marketing and investments in targeted advertising, which is sold by the publishers of the rankings themselves.
- Many rankings continuously change the weights of various criteria and continuously add new evaluated countries. Therefore, data from different years are only indicative.
CU appreciates the interest that the analysts of the Slovak Government Office show in international rankings of Slovak universities. The Government of the Slovak Republic is our largest customer and consequently we welcome its support in resolving the numerous issues we are facing, e.g. delayed payment applications in major projects, access to international databases, excessive bureaucracy in public procurement or insufficient funding of student dormitories, which will likely necessitate a gradual closure of some Comenius University premises in Mlynská dolina. Unpredictable funding, however, is our major issue. Usually, we only find out at the beginning of the current year what our budget will be for that year, making long-term planning impossible.
Another issue is the financing of higher education in the countries with which we compare ourselves. According to Eurostat, Slovakia spends 0.6% of its GDP on higher education, while the Czech Republic spends 0.7%, Hungary 1.6%, and Poland 1.2%. The budget of Comenius University is approximately 140 million euros, and the total budget of all 20 Slovak public universities together is about 600 million euros per year. The budget of Charles University alone is around 500 million euros, and the budget of the University of Vienna is more than 700 million euros per year.
In conclusion, we would like to repeat that the international ranking of Comenius University is continuously improving year-on-year once the increasing numbers of evaluated universities are taken into account. And if universities in neighbouring countries do even better than us, we see this as an invitation to rethink the support that our universities are receiving from the state.
* Yesterday, on 20 September 2023, the QS ranking of European schools was published for the first time. In this ranking, Comenius University was ranked 298th in Europe and 20th among Eastern European countries. However, it is still too early to evaluate these data, as this is the first edition.