Ranking Universities: Criteria and Consequences

Locke, William (2007). Ranking Universities: Criteria and Consequences. Centre for Higher Education Research and Information, London.


This Supplement to 'Higher Education Digest' Number 59 brings together a number of items addressing the issue of university rankings. The first piece explores some of the background to the debate: the impact of rankings, the main criticisms and broader issues of policy and principle. It arose from an initial review of the literature for current research on university league tables and their impact on institutional behaviour undertaken by CHERI and Hobsons Research, commissioned by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). A brief description of the various strands of this research project follows. One of the weightier volumes on university ranking that has emerged recently is editors Sadlak and Lui’s 'The World-Class University and Ranking: Aiming Beyond', and a summary of this collection of papers is also featured in this supplement. Many of this book’s authors are members of the International Rankings Expert Group (IREG) and one of the Group’s key contributions has been to draw up a set of 'Principles on Ranking of Higher Education Institutions', with the explicit aim of evaluating and improving ranking practice. The Principles are included here as one succinct statement of good practice. But many critics question the very principle of creating hierarchies of institutions, and Ulrich Teichler provides a personal reflection on this subject to conclude this Supplement.

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