Nieuws - 3 november 2011

Top 100

It is raining and it is November, wrote Dutch poet J.C. Bloem 80 years ago in one of his most famous verses, a verse literally dripping with gloom

. The summer seems long ago and the dark days of December loom ahead. November, slaughter time, is a bleak month. It is also the month when annual reviews and a wide range of prizes and rankings are published. Golden calves, literature prizes, and the footballer or table tennis player or fierljepper [a Frisian form of pole-vaulting] of the year... And of course, the university rankings.
‘Wageningen shoots up Times rankings', read a Resource headline three weeks ago. We are the second best Dutch university and in 75th place worldwide, a full 69 places higher than last year. If we read on, we discover that in the Shanghai index we have gone down fifty places, but never mind that. ‘If you reach the top 100, you are really somebody', is the satisfied conclusion of information specialist Wouter Gerritsma in the closing paragraph. I don't know, I wonder what the figures are worth.
‘Comrade Khrushchev comes a respectable second, while Kennedy is second to last', writes a Russian paper. Not mentioning that there were only two competitors. Perhaps we shouldn't take too much notice of these sorts of lists and should concentrate on the important things: high quality research, appealing education and an inspiring working environment in which everybody flourishes. And if we still feel the need for rankings, then could we please first have a ranking of the rankings? Are the Times rankings above the Shanghai ones or the other way round?