New Recognition & Rewards e-magazine

Ready to embrace the impact?

The new Recognition & Rewards e-magazine is entitled Embrace the impact. The magazine is full of interviews, blogs, articles and good practices relating to developments around our joint Recognition & Rewards programme at the various institutions. From the contributions, it is evident that Recognition & Rewards is increasingly being put into practice, including in terms of detailed new career paths, different assessment criteria, reflective leadership and much more. That makes us very happy!

In the e-magazine, the ambitions and progress of the Recognition & Rewards programme are communicated as comprehensively as possible through (in-depth) articles and video clips. This involves sharing good practices, providing information about international and other developments and presenting personal stories.

Examples include interviews with PhD candidate Britt van Belkom and her thesis supervisor Remco Havermans about her PhD track. Marieke Adriaanse discusses culture change and the role language plays in this. There is also an interview with Matilde Galli, Rinske Vermeij and Sarah de Rijcke about the question how to define quality. In addition, institutions share various good practices, such as in terms of career paths and leadership. And three lecturers speak about their passion for teaching.

The e-magazine is in English and is accessible to everyone. This is the second edition of the e-magazine of the joint programme. The first edition was published in 2022. All affiliated institutions have contributed to the articles.

We invite everyone to read the e-magazine and to share their thoughts about it with each other. If the articles raise questions or inspire ideas, please feel free to discuss them in the Recognition & Rewards working group at your institution, or contact the national programme team at

E&W broad meeting – November

On Monday November 6th we had another ‘E&W broad’ meeting. This meeting is designed for project leaders, committee chairs, and others directly involved in the Recognition & Rewards programme to come together. During today’s meeting, we focused on scientists at the beginning of their careers. What is happening in this area at institutions? Colleagues from different institutions shared what they are doing for postdocs and lecturers.

Dagmar Eleveld, for instance, presented the approach from Radboudumc towards postdocs. What is needed to give postdocs a visible place? After that, Anna Roodhof (PNN), Max van Haastrecht (PhD student, Leiden University), and Marjan van Hunnik (KNAW) facilitated a workshop around the ‘proeve van bekwaamheid’ of PhD students. What should that be if we look from an E&W perspective at their multi-year journey to becoming ‘full-fledged academics’?

Robert Grem (University of Amsterdam) then presented the UvA’s new lecturer policy. Lecturers perform a substantial part of educational tasks, making them an important and inseparable part of the university. The policy aims to reduce the number of short-term appointments of lecturers, increase the job security of lecturers, and offer more career prospects.

The concluding presentation came from Julius Smit and Laurette van der Woning (University of Twente). In their presentation, they discussed recognising and rewarding OBP and the importance of good leadership in it. These were all interesting and important topics that prompted many questions and reactions. Concrete results? That’s not what this session is about. Exchanging experiences and developments is the aim, so that we can learn from each other. If you have any questions or suggestions, please let us know!

Key considerations for the use of rankings by higher education institutions

The European University Association has published a very important briefing on the use of rankings. With these ‘key considerations’, EUA aims to raise further awareness and encourage reflection of some of the potential pitfalls of rankings and provide its members with guidance towards their responsible use.

With this text, the European University Association (EUA) presents a set of guiding considerations to support universities in using global rankings responsibly.

University rankings have become a fact of (university) life. Since their emergence several decades ago, they have come to feature prominently, and often controversially, in discussions about demonstrating university performance and measuring quality and excellence in higher education.

While rankings may have had some positive impact (for some institutions), they continue to face sustained criticism for their choice and use of indicators, data collection methods, promotion of a single model of excellence, and lack of transparency on what they can – and cannot – tell their users about institutional quality and excellence. With this publication, EUA aims to raise further awareness and encourage reflection of some of the potential pitfalls of rankings and provide its members with guidance towards their responsible use.



Dutch universities to take different approach to rankings

Dutch universities will take a more critical stance towards global university rankings. These ‘league tables’ have methodological shortcomings and their assessment of the research achievements of universities is too one-sided, being based on the number of publications and citations. This is at odds with the Recognition & Rewards programme, through which Dutch universities emphasise quality rather than quantity. So concludes an expert group advising the Board of the Universities of the Netherlands. UNL President Pieter Duisenberg: ‘Universities are ambivalent about university rankings. It’s important to be able to determine our place among the world’s top universities, but the current approach does not do justice to the breadth of work that we do. As a consequence, we’ll be using these rankings less frequently, contributing instead to the development of alternatives.’

What are rankings?

University rankings come in different shapes and sizes. The expert group’s advice focuses specifically on league tables. These are rankings that try to capture a university’s performance in an overall score of accomplishments in research, education and impact. In doing so, they claim to reflect the overall performance of a university. However, there is no universally accepted criterion to quantify a university’s overall performance. In addition, league tables emphasise research achievements, which are largely determined by the number of publications and citations.

Universities believe it is important to perform well in these international rankings, as many students, scientists, businesses and governments use them. However, the methods by which these league tables are drawn up and the value assigned to them is at odds with the principles of the Recognition & Rewards programme. As part of this programme, institutions actually want to give more weight to different qualities in science, rather than looking at a single quantitative dimension to measure quality. UNL therefore asked an expert group for advice on how universities can best deal with the league tables in relation to Recognition & Rewards.


What will change?

The expert group has indicated that the use of league tables can undermine Recognition & Rewards. It offered a number of recommendations at the institutional, national and international levels. In the coming period, Dutch universities will work together to implement these recommendations. Universities will make changes regarding the use of league tables at both the national and institutional levels. For example, universities will contribute to alternatives to league tables, such as multidimensional rankings. They will also no longer use the league tables for internal evaluations or budget allocations. In addition, the data supplied to league tables will be made public. At the national level, UNL will work to increase awareness about the limitations of league tables. It will also try to discourage the use of league tables by the government.

Furthermore, UNL will engage with international partners to bring about change at the European level as well. As a first step, UNL has taken the initiative to explore a joint guideline with European university umbrella organisation EUA and experts from Germany, France, the Republic of Ireland, Poland and the UK.

The expert group’s advice focuses specifically on league tables. There are many more rankings. These include topical rankings, subject rankings, regional rankings and rankings for universities that have existed for less than 50 years. The advice limits itself to league tables because they serve the largest group and unfairly claim to capture the performance of universities in one-dimensional rankings.