15 June 2011 | Report

Global University Rankings and Their Impact

Andrejs Rauhvargers

EUA commissioned this report in response to the growth in international and national rankings, as a result of increasing questions from member institutions requesting information and advice on the nature of these rankings, because of the interest shown by national governments in ranking exercises, and finally in light of the European Commission’s decision to develop a ‘European ranking’.

The purpose of this review is to inform universities about the methodologies behind the most popular global rankings, and about their potential impact. The EUA review of global university rankings has been produced following some agreed principles:

  • It addresses the most popular global university rankings as well as some other attempts to measure performance (rankings, ratings, classifications) that are relevant for European universities. However, the review does not cover national rankings.
  • The review is not aimed at ranking the rankings themselves, but at providing universities with an analysis of the methodologies behind the global rankings.
  • Only publicly available and freely accessible information on each ranking, rather than surveys or interviews with the ranking providers, was used in the survey. Such an approach was used in an attempt to demonstrate how transparent each ranking is from a user’s perspective.
  • Efforts were made to discover what is said to be measured, what is actually measured, how the scores for individual indicators and, where appropriate, the final scores are calculated, and what the results actually mean.

We believe that this ranking methodology analysis will provide useful information to the universities in times when rankings increasingly influence higher education policies and public opinion about them.


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