These days, the mass media renewed the news about the publication of the so-called Shanghai list of the best universities in the world. From the journalistic circles, the news spread across the academic community to the wider public. Parallel to the presentation of information, messages are also posted that should influence the political awareness of the recipients. Criticism is expressed because of the absence of a Macedonian university on the list of the top 500, as well as the best 1,000 universities in the world. Dissatisfaction is most often illustrated by the absence from the list of our oldest and best university – St. Cyril and Methodius (UKIM).
Therefore critical points are mainly supported by reactive statements by representatives or by ordinary members of the academic community of UKIM. In their statements, the country’s poor financial support for higher education and, above all, for scientific-research projects is highlighted as the main alibi. And, as an example, the money is important points to the improvement of Belgrade University’s ratings after receiving state financial support from the state.
Yes, money is important for the development of science. But the amount of state money for science, research and, in general, higher education is not the only and most important factor. At a time when the world is headed by “knowledge societies”, the university and academic institutions are at the forefront of key players and promoters of the national strategy for the development and establishment of the nation on a global scale. Macedonian universities are not part of such a strategy. In our country, such a strategy does not really exist. Instead, there are plus two strategies, partisation of national interests and the mission of public universities.
A good example of this is the few political endeavors that in the past decade strongly influenced the mission of the university in our country, which are in effect after the change of power. Here, I take into consideration, above all, the purposes and ways in which the available funds are used or the recruitment of available human resources. For example, what is the effect of the millions spent on the project translating 1,000 books on the placement of our universities among these one thousand best universities in the world? Or is the question of the effect of the increase in the number of universities in the country on the chances of placing a Macedonian university on that list especially interesting?
In response to these questions, due to the current issue of the university’s place in the implementation of national strategies, as an indicator I will take the placements of our universities not on the Shanghai list but on the ranking list of world universities of Webometrics (http: //www.webometrics.info/en). This list gives a better opportunity for a more coherent comparative assessment of the place of our universities, first of all regional (in the Balkans), and then on a global scale.
Unlike the Shanghai list that ranks only the top five hundred, or the top one thousand universities, Webometrics is the world’s largest academic ranking. Its base for 2018, for example, involves over 26,000 universities around the world. Twenty universities from Macedonia are included in this database. The highest ranked on this list is the University of St. Cyril and Methodius that occupies the 1,624th place. The second-placed Macedonian university is located 1,818 places below the scale – Goce Delcev University in Stip, which is placed on 3,442. Thereafter, the University of South East Europe (4,124th place), the University of St. Kliment Ohridski from Bitola (5,387 places), State University in Tetovo (5,642 place), and the other fourteen Macedonian universities are placed between 8.805 and 22.235.
Compared to other former Yugoslav republics, Macedonia, along with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro, does not have a university in the top 500 category, nor in the category of top 1,000 universities. Slovenia has one in the top 500 category and another one, like Croatia and Serbia, in the category of top 1,000 universities.
From the neighboring Balkan countries, however, the highest ranked universities come from Greece. Four of its universities are ranked among the top 500, and eight of them in the top 1,000 and thirty-one in the category of top 5,000 universities. Pointing Greece as a neighbor is interesting not only because of the fact that the world’s best-ranked universities from the neighborhood come from there, but also because of Greece, that is, the Greek national strategy, the noun “Macedonia” appears four times on the list of world universities.
The noun “Macedonia” is not included in the name of any Macedonian university. Also, in the latest edition of the list of world universities of Webometrics, the Republic of Macedonia is no longer listed with the provisional reference but as North Macedonia!
In addition to this nominal aspect of the contribution for affirmation of the name Macedonia on the world list of universities it can be seen through the number of quotations of authors and works of Top Google Scholar profiles. According to this criterion, the four Greek universities in its region of Macedonia were quoted 41,945 times, while the four universities from the Republic of (North) Macedonia 24,795. In addition, the most relevant for the quotations from the Macedonian universities are UKIM and Goce Delcev (UGD). They account for almost four fifths of the total number of quotations. While on the Greek side, the University of Macedonia from Thessaloniki and the University of Western Macedonia are the most deserving. The first produced more than half the quotations of Greek universities in Macedonia. The latter, himself, produced (12,023) quotations, approximately as much as UKIM (12,501).
Accordingly, money is important for science. However, the dedication and strategic orientation of the university community to the scientific and academic affirmation of a certain political, or national strategy, is also important. In this regard, it seems that UKIM, in comparison, not only with the mentioned Greek universities in Greek Macedonia but also in comparison with UGD from our Republic of Macedonia, acts more as an old and pragmatically motivated business actor than as a young and passionate researcher, eager for self-certification and proving its national relevance.