University Camilo José Cela organises a workshop to reflect on the influence of rankings on the reputation of universities

University Camilo José Cela hosted and organised an international workshop entitled ‘The 3Rs of the future in Higher Education: Reputation, Responsibility and Ranking ‘with the objective of reflecting on the impact and influence that rankings, quality evaluations and social responsibility have on the reputation of universities.

The workshops featured the participation of leading international entities and personalities, with a range of profiles, from academics and researchers to executives and professionals from different sectors, all of them experts in issues such as reputation, knowledge transfer, responsibility, rankings or quality assessment.

The Rector of University Camilo José Cela, Samuel Martín-Barbero, opened the event that he himself described as an “intellectual marathon”. According to the Rector, a joint reflection is necessary by both academic and non-university actors on the reputation and social responsibility of universities, as well as if the rankings correctly reflect both the activity of the universities and the demands of the 21st century society. Martín-Barbero advocated for a new direction, more focused on “quality than quantity”.

During the day there was a debate on the importance of rankings in the search for excellence and in the trust placed in universities and the efforts universities should make to appear in rankings or improve their positions. Furthermore, additional aspects that students value include things like “the sustainability of the campus or the quality of the teaching faculty”. Internal assessments or self-assessments have been carried out to achieve the vision and goals defined by each university.

Reflection on how higher education impacts society is also important, but, above all, what is essential is how it will impact society in the future. The concept of “sustainability” has been recurrent during the debate, intermingling with those of financing, research, employment, knowledge, social impact, or the “positive footprint” of its students through soft skills.

In the panel discussion entitled Rankings and their influence in moulding universities, decision-making and regulation’ featured the participation of Francesc Solé, Vice President of the Knowledge and Development Foundation; Vanessa Bourkaib, Director of Quality and Reputation of University Camilo José Cela; Theodore Luque, professor at the University of Granada; Nicolas Cletz, General Manager at Times Higher Education; Leigh Kamolins, Director of Evaluation at QS; José Manuel Torralba, General Director of Universities and Superior Artistic Teachings; Christo Joseph, Director of Strategy and Planning at Garden City University.

The second panel discussion, entitled ‘The role of accreditation and quality assurance agencies: changes and challenges’ included the participation of Maria Kelo, Director of ENQUA; Miguel Ángel Pérez Nieto, Dean of the School of Education and Health of UCJC; Fiona Crozier, International Director of the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education; Federico Morán, Director of the Madri + d Foundation for Knowledge; Annie Soisson, from Tufts University.

In the third round table discussion, called Social and responsible entities: thinking and growing in a sustainable mode included the participation of Baltazar Ojea, Executive Director of the Social Responsibility Union of Latin American Universities -URSULA; Sonsoles Escribano, General Director of Transformation and Organisation; Manuel Lencero, co-founder and CEO of UnLTD Spain unlimited; Simón Menéndez, Director of Educational Strategy at ASHOKA; Maximiliano Alonso, General Director of Conexx-Europe; and Sara Cebrián, Science and Innovation Attaché at the British Embassy in Madrid.

The final round table discussion, ‘Reputation in Higher Education: Perceptions and experiences from stakeholders’ included participation from Sandrine Belloc, Managing Partner in Emerging; Carlota Tovar, Vice Rector of Innovation and Research at University Camilo José Cela; Sara Bieger, Country Manager at AltoPartners; Juan Cardona, Global Director of Llorente & Cuenca; Senén Ferreiro, CEO at Valora Consultores; David Moreno, Dean of the School of Technology and Science of University Camilo José Cela and Mathias Bouckaert, Policy Analyst in the OECD.