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Marzo-abril de 2021, vol. 30, núm. 2
Imágenes y verdad/ Images and truth

Moscow International University Ranking: critical review and geopolitical effects

Enrique Orduña-Malea; Carmen Pérez-Esparrells

This article is available in open access

Abstract: The Moscow International University Ranking (MosIUR) is a global university ranking launched in 2017 with the intention of evaluating universities by considering three essential dimensions (education, research, and knowledge transfer). This ranking was designed and developed by the Russian Union of Rectors following a direct request from President Vladimir Putin. The objective of this work is to perform a threefold analysis of this ranking. First, a methodological analysis is carried out, focused on describing the nature of the indicators and sources employed. Second, a geopolitical analysis aims to determine how countries are represented in this new global ranking. Third, a webometric analysis is done, focused on the online visibility of the ranking. The results reveal MosIUR to be a ranking with an outstanding number of webometric indicators and clearly oriented towards transference to society. However, some methodological concerns arise regarding a few metrics. The geopolitical position of developed countries is similar to that in other global rankings, but slight differences emerge, such as the stronger presence of Russian universities. The cybermetric analysis confirms that, despite being international, this ranking is strongly limited to Russia. It can be concluded that, except for the palpable predominance of the USA, each ranking tends to place universities from their own country in a better position. The creation of MosIUR by the Russian government can thus be perceived as a political strategy to improve the reputation of Russian universities, increase funding, and accelerate their transformation into world-class universities.

Keywords: World-class universities; University rankings; Higher education; University missions; Informetrics; Russian Federation; Comparison; Analysis; Weaknesses and strengths; MosIUR; ARWU; QS; THE; SCImago Institutions Rankings; Leiden Ranking; Webometrics Ranking (WR).