A few days before the start of the new academic year, some online media in the country reported the drop of 200 places of the University of Tirana in the ranking of one of the most serious organizations. Rector Artan Hoxha denied the news with the argument that the published list included UT for the first time, in the ranking for Southern Europe and the drop of 200 places makes no sense. Faktoje verified these claims and asked Migen Qiraxhi from “Civic Resistance” (Qëndresa Qytetare) and Shezai Rokajn, former rector of UT, who give different arguments. However, Rokaj does not exclude that the spread of incorrect news may be for competitive purposes.
The public university of Tirana was ranked 677 (in the list it appears 682, since the ranking at the top of the excel material starts from number 5), published by ” QS World University Rankings ” for Southern Europe.
Screenshot from the ranking
“The University of Tirana reaches the bottom, it falls by 200 places in the ranking” – reported a media.
“UT goes downhill, falls by 200 places in the classification of ….. was written in the title of another media.
Regarding these claims raised in the media, the rector of the University of Tirana, Artan Hoxha, stated on October 2:
“It is not true that the University of Tirana has fallen 200 places. This is because Albanian universities are included in this ranking for the first time. When you enter for the first time, there is neither higher nor lower”, said rector Hoxha.
Migen Qiraxhi from “Civic Resistance” opposed this argument of rector Hoxha:
“We are dealing with the University of Tirana, which has been in the ‘QS World University Ranking’ for 3 years. In 3 years in the ‘QS World University Ranking’ it has been positioned last. I think it is unfair to consider it as a new ranking, or different rankings, when it comes to the same methodology and we cannot say that we are dealing with a ranking every time a university is added or removed from the ranking..
From 2020 we lost 50 places, because more universities were added in 2021. More universities were added in 2022, we still lost places, New ranking places were added again, we still lost 156 places. Due to the global context in which the top-ranked Russian universities should be placed, they have now changed the name of the vase. I think that this is clear and we are dealing with the same universities that have been ranked and with the same characteristics in the three years that the University of Tirana has been in this ranking,” Qiraxhi told Faktoje.
Faktoje did a verification on the official website ” QS World University Rankings “?. Referring to the information published on September 20, 2023, it is noted that Albania is included in this ranking for the first time.
“QS includes 106 newly listed European universities, which have not been ranked before. These countries are: North Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro and Albania” – explains ” QS ” on its official website.
Screenshot from the ‘QS World University Rankings’ page
Also, we did a search on the ‘QS World University Rankings’ page if the University of Tirana was previously included in this type of ranking. From the check made for the years 2020, 2021, 2022, it does not result that UT was included in the ranking.
The ranking, which the media refer to when making the comparison, is actually the one that included ” Eastern Europe and Central Asia ” and this was reported in 2021 by the media in our country, but it was also included in the draft strategy for education for the years 2021-2026.
“One of the few reliable international rankings that includes Albanian higher education institutions is the QS-World University Rankings, which, among others, draws up a special ranking list for the 350 best HEIs in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. From 2020, the University of Tirana also appears in this list, as the only Albanian HEI and is ranked 301-350” – it is emphasized in the document of the Ministry of Education.
A deliberate misrepresentation?
Regarding this ranking, Faktoje contacted Mr. Shezai Rrokaj, head of the department of Albanian Language and Literature and former UT rector.
According to the professor, this is a war of numbers that occurs for certain reasons:
“There is a very wrong media coverage, because in my opinion we are on the threshold of an offer for the arrival of students in universities. I don’t want to point at public-private relations, but what is happening is also part of the competition.
There are three serious international agencies that deal with the ranking. It is ‘QS World University Ranking’, ‘Times Higher Education’, and ‘Academic Ranking World Universities’ otherwise known as ‘Shanghai Ranking’.
In the first one, ‘QS World University Ranking’, of the 42 HEIs that Albania has, only 4 of them have entered the ranking and the universities are: University of Tirana, Polytechnic, Agriculture and ‘Aleksandër Moisiu’ (of Durrës).
It is about a ranking that was made in 2020 and a ranking that was made these days. In 2020, the University of Tirana was ranked among 130 universities, taking into account universities in the Western Balkans. It was ranked 350th, but taking into account Eastern Europe and Central Asia. So in this ranking we ranked 350th, an average.
What has happened now is that Universities have been ranked over 600. It’s like we’re 200 places below. It is wrong, because now it is neither the Western Balkans, nor Eastern Europe and Central Asia, but it is more or less the EU, which includes countries like Spain, France, so it is Europe.
In the 3,300 universities that the European Union has and the 4,000 universities that the whole of Europe has, including us, we rank over 600″.
Furthermore, Rrokaj also shows the criteria that were used in ranking the universities.
“The first criterion is employment, how prepared students are to be included in the labor market. Second, what is the academic ‘output’ in research, what do we produce with our projects. Third, what kind of partnership exists between universities and business. Regarding research, UT and the Agricultural University with research output are ranked in what they say is ‘average’, while the University of Durrës and the Polytechnic are ranked in what is called ‘Low’, argues Mr. Rrokaj who also lists some of the problems that Albanian universities are facing today.
“ What universities suffer in my opinion are issues related to their funding for research, a closer connection of universities to the labor market.
I think that the universities should come out of their closure in relation to the national and local market and on the other hand the governments themselves should consider the universities not as vassals, but as partners in development.
Universities have very big problems with outdated curricula. There is repetition and information overload, a deep structuring of all university curricula is needed to relieve them from outdated information on the one hand and from the repetition of unnecessary information”, says Mr. Rrokaj.