U-Map is a university profiling tool. It maps the diversity among higher education institutions in terms of the different activities that they are engaged in.

As the Carnegie Classification has done in the USA since the early 1970s, a profiling tool creates substantially more transparency within, across and beyond higher education systems. A range of different stakeholders – students, academic staff, university leaders and policy makers – have an interest in greater transparency in higher education.

General guidelines and design principles

U-Map is:

  • based on different users’ needs and interests and on multiple areas of higher education activity
  • non-hierarchical: one activity profile is not more desirable than another
  • relevant for all higher education institutions irrespective of the mix of activities they are engaged in
  • descriptive and not prescriptive
  • based on reliable and verifiable data
  • parsimonious regarding data collection

Methodology overview

U-Map profiles of higher education institutions illustrate what institutions actually do in terms of serving different student populations; the educational programmes they offer; and their involvement in research, knowledge transfer, regional engagement and internationalisation.

Higher education institutions are active in these different dimensions of activity to different extents, depending on a range of factors including, for example, their institutional mission, or the mix of disciplines they offer. A technical university will have a different profile to an art school: U-Map is a tool for both to make their different profiles transparent.

U-Map develops activity profiles based on 29 separate indicators, which together cover the six dimensions just mentioned: student population, education, research, knowledge transfer, regional engagement and international orientation.

Each indicator has four possible values: in most cases these indicate major, substantial, some, or no involvement in the activity in question. The exact cut-off points between the four values depend on the type of indicator and on the available set of data. The cut-off points are determined empirically and will be revised periodically. As a general rule, the cut-off points are set to place about 25% of the institutions in U-Map in each of the four categories ranging from the higher to the lower end of the indicator’s values.

An overview of the dimensions and indicators can be found in the PDF below:

A detailed description of the indicators and their underlying data-elements can be found in the PDF below: