What I Learned in Taiwan

A rankings trip to Taiwan proves to be a valuable experience.

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I have just returned from the International Conference on World University Ranking and Quality Assurance of Higher Education 2009, which was held in Taipei and Pingtung, Taiwan. The conference was organized by the National Pingtung University of Science and Technology and by the Higher Education and Accreditation Council of Taiwan. There were participants from many universities from all parts of Taiwan.

I spoke on U.S. News's America's Best Colleges rankings and the impact those rankings have had in the United States in terms of prospective students and of the colleges themselves. I also discussed some of the implications of the U.S. News ranking experience for universities in Taiwan. In addition, I talked about the reasons behind and implications of the current phenomenon that has led to college rankings being published in over 30 countries around the world. Finally, I discussed in great detail the recently launched second annual U.S. News World's Best Universities rankings, explaining why U.S. News is doing global university rankings and how global university rankings differ from rankings of the colleges in just one country.

The Taiwan conference provided a forum to discuss the pitfalls and challenges that result from the worldwide spread of university rankings. My presentation and others at the conference enabled representatives from many colleges in Taiwan to understand the methodology and impact that college rankings can have on students and higher education policymakers.

In addition, I was in Taiwan for the launch of the College Navigator in Taiwan, which was released on October 21 and was produced by the Higher Education Evaluation & Accreditation Council of Taiwan. The College Navigator in Taiwan is the first personalized college search engine in all of Asia. It will guide prospective college students from Taiwan and other countries to select Taiwanese colleges using a highly developed, interactive, Web-based process. The College Navigator in Taiwan also allows prospective students to do personalized rankings of schools in Taiwan by selecting their own weights and variables in order to determine the school that best fits their needs.

These international gatherings serve a very positive purpose: They help those using rankings better understand the problems and limitations of rankings. These conferences also enable those who produce rankings to talk with others in their field to develop better and more reliable rankings.

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