Introduction

Rankings are commonplace across all dimensions of society: restaurants, hotels, companies, scientists… and universities.

For universities, statistical data began being collated in 2003 with the Academic Ranking of World Universities, more commonly known as the “Shanghai Ranking”. Since then, university rankings have proliferated and can be found on several internet sites.

It could have been an innocent, harmless or even productive process. However, the management of universities and/or the politicians entered the game with a view of indulging public opinion and funding bodies. In the process of attempting to increase the ranking of universities, often well-established common protocols can be compromised. It is said that universities are here to produce and distribute knowledge and therefore, attempts to improve a ranking at any cost may seriously harm these objectives.

More than ever before, academia is tasked with making sense of our interconnected and global world driven by information. Universities shape the future of humankind and embody values that are universally recognized such as integrity, knowledge and ethics. But the current frameworks that are applied to game university rankings are now having an impact of the direction and scope of research and teaching, and on the education system.

It could be said that the primary objective of some universities has shifted from making breakthroughs in science, to the mundane activity of publishing papers, irrespective of the quality. Similarly, it is no longer a question of delivering quality teaching but to maintain an ‘acceptable’ ratio of professors/students that favors a good score in rankings; it is not to make your students effective in their future jobs but to beg the companies to quote you the day the ranking organizations contact them; and it is not to hire the best possible staff and recruit the best students, but to hire and attract non-nationals or scientists from a given list of “highly-cited researchers”. This enumeration could continue endlessly, but most academics may relate to one or several of these issues.

So what can be done? Well… A new ranking! You may think “Not one more!” You got it right. But our team decided to create the framework of a new ranking system where the only way to progress is to make what was called a “good job” a couple of decades ago: the focus in on high impact research and quality output. This ranking is designed to be resilient and separate from management, political or economic strategies.

It is necessary to state that the authors do not like university ranking systems. They are like horoscopes: we look at them, we believe them only if they are positive and you may interpret them as you wish. Rather than attempting to argue that horoscopes rankings are an unreliable means of measuring university performance, we decided to construct an alternative model.

All the data available on this website are Open-access; we simply invite you to use appropriate referencing if you need to use any data.

WARNING: There is no correlation between the quality of teaching (or students) of a university and its rank in the A3 ranking. This ranking should be considered for comparing research impact only.